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Sacred: Is Not Nothing, But Nothing Is

Ah, so begins another week between me and Fall 2008 semester. The temp agencies have been informed of my availability, and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt they're going to contact me this week. All that remains is figure out how to burn time.

Yesterday (Monday) I finished off Beyond Good and Evil, right down to the last collectible, and now I've no longer an awesome game to play. GameFly is sending me Phantom Brave and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, but they're not here yet. I'm not in the mood for MMORPGs, or else I might be playing EQ2 and Vanguard's free trials. In the end, I turned to the fairly reviewed Diablo clone, Sacred: Gold. (Complementary as part of my GameTap offerings.)

The trailer for Sacred. Includes a pretty accurate look at the gameplay.

Developed primarily by German Ascaron Entertainment, Sacred Gold is a re-release of the game that includes an expansion and patches. No Diablo clone has really managed to top the gameplay mechanic of the originals, and that's the heart of the game, but Sacred brings a lot of nice features regardless: a huge seamless world, 8 classes, mounts, the ability to zoom in and out with the scrollwheel, the ability to assemble "combos" of multiple attacks, and visible equipment on 3D characters rendered against its quasi-2D backdrop.

Sacred Gold manages to entertain, but I still have some big reservations about it. The foremost would be that the RPG mechanics are loosely balanced enough that I was able to easily tweak my Battle Mage into an neigh unkillable juggernaut in short order: it's too easy! Another issue is that I have to do a lot of walking across this huge world to complete quests (though there are a few shortcuts). Finally, the enemies tend to respawn, and that annoys me because I'd prefer them to stay dead as a sign of my progress (though I can see the gameplay advantage that having unlimited cannon fodder offers).

When you roll all those together and consider that this game has multiplayer support and freedom to wander wherever you're high enough level to survive, Sacred is actually a kind of a small scale MMORPG. As I already said, I'm sort of sick of MMORPGs, I'm no longer a gamer who can enjoy grinding for grinding's sake, I like to see results of my efforts beyond leveling up. Sacred has a bit in how I can restore core functionality of a city (merchants, smiths) during some quests, but it's not a game of truly dynamic content.

Failing a world that truly progresses to support a story, I'd accept simply being challenged, to play the game for the gameplay's sake. Maybe I should try turning up the difficulty from "bronze" to "silver" and see if that relieves some of the monotony of plowing through harmless mobs. According to a GameFaqs walkthrough I dug up, I should wait until level 20 to do that, but the game gets more interesting at that point because all the mobs are dynamically adjusted to your level in that mode.
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