Sacred 3 Previews

A few previews for Deep Silver's recently announced Sacred threequel have been released, and we've rounded them up for you reading pleasure.

Official Xbox Magazine:
Gone is the PC-style interface and vast overworld of Sacred 2, replaced by a more responsive action-RPG type battle system and focused linear level progression (narratively explained away with a handy teleportation artifact). During our hands-off demo presentation, two playable character classes were used a beefy Safiri berserker and a typically scantily clad Ancarian lancer although as in previous Sacred titles we were assured more classes would be available.

If you're familiar with isometric console action RPGs (like Activision's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series), Sacred 3 won't be hard to grasp. Our look at the game began with the berserker and lancer moving their way through a dry desert outpost area, working together to dispatch large groups of large beetles and goblins. This time around, combat has been designed around co-op play, with players' actions working in tandem on the battlefield; attacks have been streamlined as well, allowing for a greater number of moves and special abilities at the cost of only having one weapon equipped.

Sacred 3 is quite the looker, as well, with detailed effects and character models that make the action pop. As the heroic duo moved beyond the dusty canyons and villages, the camera swooped in to provide a sweeping vista of a glowing spire in the distance a nice touch to help spotlight the game's crisp visuals.

The action RPG can be played cooperatively with up to four players. The Safiri Berserker (a ripped beast of a man) and the Ancarian Lancer (a scantily clad pixelated wet dream) character classes were showcased. The two playing showed off the benefit of using character classes with complimentary skill sets as the Lancer stunned groups of enemies and, when timed correctly, the Berserker wreaked havoc as it charged through them. Often this combo instantly destroyed enemies or, when travelling an area on narrow paths, knocked them off to their deaths.

While the game seemed to stress co-op there was a bit of a competitive edge to the game as the two players racked up their scores. The more combos the player executed, the more points they seemed to get. Co-op bonuses were also achieved. In the end, the Safiri Berserker utterly dominated in terms of overall score (probably since it made the finishing move). Obviously you want to save the land of Ancaria before it is enslaved by the most horrible of evils but you want to be the hero who does it best.

The Gamers Hub:
The teams desire was to bring the hack '˜n' slash RPG genre back to life, delivering (expressive gameplay) and letting (the art of gameplay) be brought right to the players fingertips with powerful and beautiful moves that can be executed throughout the game. At the forefront of those powerful moves are the games races, of which two were on show during our behind closed doors previews: the Safiri and the Ancarians. The former are your warrior types, having come from across the ocean to put their feud with the Ancari aside so they can help defend the world; the latter are more magic based in their attacks as they've long been guerilla fighters and so utilise the elements of the earth to aid them in combat.

To create these expressive and artistic moves, Combat Arts have had a slight revamp and have become (more than just spells) according to our lovely presenter. Just like in Sacred Citadel you can now combine Combat Arts with your co-op partners for some devastating damage, and the more paired moves you perform the more powerful they'll become thanks to a reward system that celebrates allegiances between players and races. It's thanks to the fluid combat that these Combat Arts also look ruddy beautiful when they're being performed that and the fact that Sacred 3 just looks really rather incredible for a game in this stage of development.

Usually in isometric games the camera is fixed in it's isometry, however with Sacred 3 they want to be able to use the environment to tell a story, and so at key points an (active camera) as it's been dubbed swoops in to show scale and scope. Also in an effort to bring more immersive gameplay, the world itself can also be used as a weapon, with many environmental traps and triggers that can be utilised against your foes who also have multiple damage zones, meaning you've got to go in tactically against enemies instead of wading in willy-nilly.

The Sixth Axis:
Borrowing from the squad mechanics which are often seen in shooters and strategy games, groups of different types of enemies that you come across will be working together in sensible ways, rather than rushing right at you.

For example, I saw the hero come up against a large group of Grimmocs, a mixture of the standard rush attack variety and others with large shields that throw grenades. Whilst the standard Grimmocs came straight at the player, the ranged ones would actively stay a certain distance away, hiding behind their huge shields to protect them very effectively from a head on assault.

Each enemy class will have its own specific job and you'll have to apply a bit of thought as to how you handle some of them. A Grimmoc Shaman that backs up the standard troops via healing and boosts has to be separated from the group, because if he's killed too close to other enemies they'll become enraged, boosting their stats for a period of time and attacking much more ferociously.