I've only put in about an hour so far, just getting it going, but already I can tell it's going to be an enjoyable game. A few quick things to point out, for those curious.
1) I've heard the game described as an open world RPG, which obviously brings Bethesda games to mind. Do NOT be fooled by this. The game's design has far more in common with BioWare's mechanics than Bethesda's. While the world is one continuous area, it isn't open like an Elder Scrolls game. There are roadways to follow and forests and cliffs blocking your movement, so you can't just pick a direction and start moving forward. The camera is also sort of isometric, looking down on the character from above. Very Baldur's Gate/Neverwinter Nights.
2) The controls are terrific. You have twelve skill/attack slots - four bound to the main face buttons, and another eight that can be activated by holding the left and right triggers. Very effective for quick access. Using the D-Pad for potions isn't terrific, but it does work.
3) I very quickly came across an H2G2 reference. Score!
4) The voice acting is so, so bad. Why does a creepy, eyeless old monk sound like a warlord?
All in all, it seems like a throwback to older PC RPGs, which isn't a bad thing. The transition to console seems to work very well.
June 12, 2009
I'm really not sure how I feel about this game so far... On the one hand, the actual gameplay is surprisingly addictive. Traipsing across the match to complete quests and kill hordes of kobolds and undead is plenty of fun, and lots of loot drops to sift through and find upgrades. Likewise, character development is a lot of fun too.
I'm playing a Shadow Warrior, which is sort of like a cross between a fighter and a necromancer. I'm good in melee with a sword, but I can also summon minions to do my bidding. For this character, I'm focusing on a handful of skills: two attack skills, Demonic Blow and Frenzied Strikes (or something like that), a resurrection spell that lets me revive fallen enemies temporarily, and two buffs, one that grants me more HP and quicker regeneration, and another that summons permanent undead allies to fight with me. Normally you can only have one active buff, but there's a passive skill I've learned that lets me use two. There are other passive skills I'm learning, but for the most part they aren't terribly exciting. However, the ones that are specific to the different combat skill branches allow me to modify and improve the base abilities of the skills I'm focusing on, which is awesome. My Demonic Blow strikes multiple targets now, and my undead ally buff summons four instead of just two.
With that said, I'm a bit annoyed at how the game is laid out. It's pretty much an offline MMO - in fact, anyone who's ever said that Final Fantasy XII is an offline MMO needs to play Sacred 2 and then shut the hell up forever. Of course, you CAN go online with Sacred 2, but it's a matchmaking system similar to games like Diablo. Only a limited number of players in a game at a time. I'm also ignoring it completely (for now, anyways).
To be more specific, the game is set up remarkably similar to World of Warcraft. When you visit a town, there are NPCs with question marks over their heads. They give you quests, which you go out and complete for a reward of experience and gold. The thing about this is that the story, so far (to be fair I haven't delved very deep into the story yet) is all told through the quest text. In fact, I really can't say anything about the quality of the story because I really don't know what the story is. The quest text tends to be unnecessarily lengthy and also fairly dull. Like in World of Warcraft, everything the people here say is pretty much irrelevant, and it has a way of disconnecting you from the game world.
Wow! FINALLY a quest reward that was actually worthwhile! I just completed a quest chain and was rewarded with an awesome 4 or 5 minute cinematic of a medieval metal rock concert
! I was not expecting that, and it was totally awesome!
Here it is on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_EZ-u1V68g
After the concert, they give you their instruments, all of which are unique weapons. You can also watch the video again any time you want by talking to them. If you're playing the game and you get to a little town called Clearview, make sure you complete the chain that involves finding this bands' instruments. It's well worth it.
I decided to change things up a bit. Continuing the way I was going, completing every quest I came across, was getting me nowhere fast. I think, from here on, I'm going to accept
every quest I come across, but I'll only complete the ones that happen to be on my way to my next main destination. Hopefully that will speed things up so that it doesn't take more than a hundred hours to beat the game.
With that in mind, I also restarted my campaign on the Silver difficulty, and am in the progress of speed-running back to where I was, which isn't actually taking that long since I'm ignoring all the quests in my way. I have to say I'm very glad I did it. You get more experience from killing enemies and, although it's still very easy, at least now I actually have to use potions
. The game recommends starting on the Bronze difficulty, but I would say to anyone starting the game, if you have any experience with WRPGs like Diablo or Neverwinter Nights at all, don't bother. Start in Silver difficulty, you'll have more fun.
Something nice about the game is that when you restart your campaign, you don't have to start with a new character. You just start a new campaign with the character you already have. So I was able to bring my lvl 20 Shadow Warrior into the new game with all his equipment and skills in tact. Definitely a nice feature.