Although this type of game is normally played with a mouse and keyboard, Ascaron managed to find a way to get the most out of the Xbox 360 control. Each of the game's attacks are mapped to the four face buttons, so you can set it up in whatever way is most comfortable for you. At first you can do just about everything you want with the basic four face buttons, but after a few hours you will begin to amass special abilities, extra weapons and a few powerful magic spells. Because there are so many different spells and abilities to keep track of, the developers have added eight more face button slots. To access these you can hold either the right or left trigger, allowing for a total of twelve possible slots. What's more, you are also able to map potions and other items to the D-pad.
All this may sound complicated at first, but it's a breeze switching between slots and performing the right task. It may not be as sleek as just pushing a button on a keyboard, but this is about the best you can hope for when it comes to a console port. In fact, I would argue that this is the very best example of how to port a Diablo-style dungeon crawler to a home console. I can only hope that if Blizzard decides to port their upcoming Diablo III to a console, they pay close attention to what Ascaron was able to accomplish with this release.
For the most part the weapons and items are traditional fantasy fair. You are given swords, hammers, hatchets, spears, and a whole host of other items you would see in just about any game in the genre. The difference here is that you aren't necessarily stuck using only one weapon at a time. In so many role-playing games you have to go into the menu and equip a new weapon when you want a change, in Sacred 2 you are able to switch weapons on the fly. This quick switch reminded me of what Fable II did last year, how you can go from hacking somebody up with a sword to shooting them with your gun. In my case I had highly advanced ninja throwing stars, a weapon that made taking out long distance enemies a breeze. However, if for some reason I missed the bad guys and they advanced, then I was ready with my sword to finish them off. All this is done at the touch of a button, making the control and feel of the game very streamlined.
Like the weaponry, the enemies and bosses you fight are straight out of every fantasy MMO you've ever played. Expect to hack and slash orcs, spiders, dragons, zombies, skeletons and a whole host of other baddies. In fact, outside of having a masterfully done control scheme, there really isn't a lot that feels brand new about Sacred 2. Now granted, few adventure games are this large and of such quality when they hit the console, but it's not like this game is breaking new ground or anything. Fans of the genre will feel right at home here and if you're somebody who generally doesn't like this kind of game, then chances are Sacred 2 isn't going to change your mind. Still, there are very few adventure games as good as this on the Xbox 360, so it's worth putting up with some genre cliches here and there.
Unlike something like Final Fantasy XI or World of Warcraft, Sacred 2 is a perfectly enjoyable experience for a solo player. There comes a time in most MMO games where you need a large group of people in order to beat a dungeon or particular boss. That's not the case here. With the right weapons, armor and magic, you can kick just about any bad guy's butt. And if you can't, then don't worry, because all it will take is you leveling up a few more times and buying better equipment. The bad guys scale to your experience level, but not in a way where you never feel very powerful. It was around my tenth hour that I realized that I'm a force to be reckoned with, and from then on I felt like I was able to take down any enemy that got in my way. Unfortunately that cocky attitude ultimately got me killed a few times, but even then I felt a sense of power that is missing in Oblivion and other similar games.
While you can go through the game by yourself, the real fun comes when you and a friend team up to take on Ancaria. Sacred 2 can be played co-op both online and off, with up to four players going through the quest at once. The game is clearly built around the communal nature of the game, since even when you're playing by yourself you are still technically online. With friends the idea of having more than 600 quests to complete doesn't feel as daunting. And if you're the type of gamer who wants to get their money's worth out of every game they buy, then you can't go wrong with Fallen Angel. Completists will be hacking away at this game for months ... if not longer. I cannot stress enough how much there is to do in this game; this is a massive, massive game that I feel like I only touched the tip of. Did I end up beating all 600 missions? Of course not, but I look forward to jumping back in and helping each and every person I find out.
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