reviews\ Aug 25, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Sacred Gold - PC - Review

You know, there is a lot of competition for your gaming dollar when it comes to RPGs. And when one catches on, it almost is a given that, in order to keep you adventuring in these fantasy world's, an expansion pack (or two) will inevitably come out. Followed closely by the always popular "Gold" edition, that typically has all of these expansions and maybe a little something extra. 

For those of you who may have missed it, Sacred came out last year to generally decent reviews. The game, while firmly rooted in the fantasy realm, featured a selection of six characters like the Mage, the Gladiator and the Dark Elf. Players selected a character and went forth on various missions. What made this a little different from the similar Diablo, was that the game was truly open ended. You could choose to go on one mission, or go somewhere completely different and find other missions. Sure there are lots of RPGs out there with non-linear gameplay, but this one really had that feeling of freedom that some other, ahem ...  titles seemed to miss.

The gameplay that Sacred features is fairly nifty as far as the leveling up of characters goes. Each character has a ton of unique attacks that boost up as the characters level up. And of course the items and weapons that only some classes can use. The upgrading of skills can be a bit long in the tooth sometimes and using these newly acquired skills requires that you use additional skill points if you plan on using your new abilities with any sort of frequency. My favorite character is easily the Daemon with her shape-shifting abilities, once you become really powerful you literally start changing colors as related to your new attack. Nothing like a blue-haired electrified Daemon laying waste to the enemy to get your blood pumping.. Plus there is an awful lot of NPCs to talk to and if you play your cards right you can darn near have an entourage following you around as you quest for items and more experience.

The game is not what I would call graphically demanding, and it will certainly gain favor with you folks who are trying to avoid spending $300 bucks on a new graphics card. But still, the game has decent visuals. The game is viewed from a distant 3/4 view, although that view can be zoomed in or out. Now, making the best of the graphics, the locales that this title features make sure to look wildly different and surprising. Enticing the player to get out there and really explore. With it's non-linear design, the game practically begs you to stray off the beaten path and start completing some of the hundreds of side quests. And with the Underworld expansion you can add around 300 more quests.

Since the anchor on this title is the Underworld expansion, the game now includes two new character classes, the Daemon, a demon driven from hell and charged with doing good deeds despite the horrific appearance. And the Dwarf, the short-in-stature, big-in-heavy-hitting character we all know. Like the other six classes, these characters possess unique attributes that help in their battles and adventuring. It's these unique abilities that are somewhat surprising and lend some original weight to the game. Plus, as I was enticed to explore, adding the Underworld expansion now adds 40% more world to the game. For those of you out there that may have missed Sacred last year, that means for a nominal price, you are potentially getting a hundred hours of gaming here.


Now it's only fair that I give this review a good overview and that includes talking about the game's weakest feature. The hit-and-miss combat system. You see, while playing, you kind of have to pay a bit more attention to the little things than what you are used to in an RPG. Characters feel almost uninterested in fighting as it appears they are swinging at thin air. And in some cases they are since combat on horseback raises all sorts of other problems.

 Since online games are all the rage now, you can also hop online and adventure with others who want to roam the vast areas with co-op gaming in mind. There is a mode for player fighting for those who feel the need to do battle against other human players. I personally like the co-op mode as it reminded me of a evolutionary version of the old arcade game Gauntlet. Plus this is the kind of game I can play with my father who's 700 miles away since it has some qualities that both he and I like in our games.

Review Scoring Details for Sacred Gold

Gameplay: 7.0
It's nifty moving around all those wildly different locations, but I'm still not 100% on the combat.

Graphics: 7.2
A bit dated, but still more than acceptable. Looks to me like the Underworld expansions graphics are a bit more sharp then the originals but that's Ok. The more-than-friendly graphic demands are easy on most computers so that the game can be played on the most possible computers.

Sound: 6.0
I can't say that I was thrilled to death about the voice acting. It's a bit on the drab side. And the action sounds aren't much to write home about. Let me say this, I was playing and the sound was off and it didn't mean a darn thing to me. 

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
I always give games that are as long as this one a bit more of a hard score because quite frankly you need to put some time into it. Characters should be around level 25 before attempting to invade the Underworld expansion. Plan on playing for a long time if you really want to see the end.

Concept: 7.0
It's clearly borrowed from other games. The hack and slash of Diablo, the open endedness of Gothic, with a generous splash of Baldur's Gate thrown in. It works, in some places better than others, but it works.

Multiplayer: 8.0
Yes, I like the multiplayer functionality of this title. There is a lot of fun to be had playing the co-op portions of the game and I feel it's one of the game's selling points.

Overall: 7.4
Sacred Gold is actually a pretty good purchase. You get a lot of game for your money and quite frankly there are some really good features, namely the strong character development that can be had and the multiplayer aspect; you just need to weather the couple of bad ones.


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