SACRED 3 is an entertaining game which, at its best, feels like a throwback to the classic arcade era, with hack and slash combat set in a fantasy isometric world.
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Playstation 3 / PC
Score: 7.0 / 10
It is also entirely out of sync with the series it purports to be part of. Whereas its roots lie in vast open worlds and RPG elements, its latest iteration dispenses with such traditions in favour of an all action brawler.
For fans of Sacred expecting an involving and complex sequel to the world of Ancaria, the third game might come as something of a shock. The narrative is largely cosmetic, with smatterings of humour poking fun at po-faced expectations. Other deviations from the formula, unfortunately, are not so successful. Conquering enemies rewards the player not with loot that can be stockpiled to improve your inventory - a staple of any RPG - but rather health orbs and gold that has only a limited influence on bolstering skills.
There is no real sense of character upgrading - players can choose between a warrior, an archer, a lancer and a Seraphim - and the game suffers a result. The gameplay remains by and large the same throughout and there is no sense of an epic journey with all its ebbs and flows. The open world of Ancaria seen in previous titles in the series is also hemmed in for the third instalment, with barriers restricting progress until every foe meets a bloody end.
Conversely, meting out justice is a fun way to while away the time, especially when you rope in a few friends for co-operative play. The combat system could never claim to be innovative, but there is a certain pleasure in its retro-inspired crudity, with button mashing and special attacks coming to the fore when the screen is cluttered with an army of enemies.
Sacred 3 can at times be a mindlessly enjoyable action title that revels in its own frivolous gameplay, and there is no doubt that a sizable audience exists for this type of game. The problem, however, is that it is being marketed as something entirely different - imagine a new Burnout game being sold as a new Forza, for example - and its critical and commercial reception will no doubt suffer as a result.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
1) The secondary missions in Sacred 3 are a good way to amass gold quickly, but the survival modes are best tackled with three other players, otherwise you will find yourself dying quickly.
2) The roll action is a key defensive strategy in the game, particularly during the boss battles. These enemies may be large in size, but they use tried and tested patterns familiar to most gamers.
3) Spamming attacks will only get you so far. A far more fruitful approach is to chain lots of smaller strikes together, resulting in fearsome combos that inflict damage.