STAFF REVIEW of Sacred Citadel (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Sacred Citadel Box art From the title of this Xbox Live Arcade game alone your mind wanders and reminisces about the last Sacred game on the Xbox 360, Sacred 2. For those who haven't had the chance to enjoy Sacred 2, you are missing out on a fantastic, dungeon crawling, sandbox action RPG game. Inside Sacred 2 you will have six different characters to choose from with their own unique mounts to ride and with each of these characters you can chose to be light or dark. Being that it's a dungeon crawling, action rpg game you will find yourself neck deep in a sea of amazing weapons, armor, and loot and will draw you back for hours and weeks and months on end looking for better gear. With this, Sacred 2 packs a tremendous amount of character customization and when you factor in the different modifiers, the number of customization options seems limitless. The reason we just told you a very brief synopsis of Sacred 2 is because you will find almost none of this in the latest Xbox Live Arcade game, Sacred Citadel. 1200 MS points is a lot to ask for when it comes to arcade games, and with other heavy hitters in the genre such as Torchlight, will Sacred Citadel rise up to conquer or cower in shame and disgrace? Let's find out.

While the name of the world is the same (Ancaria), there is little to no similarities between the Ancaria of the retail games and the one found here in Sacred Citadel. There are more dramatic differences as well. For instance, the retail game Sacred 2 is a top down view of the land where you observe, direct, and command from on high. Here in Sacred Citadel each level is a pseudo 3D side scrolling environment where the action is up close and personal. That isn't the end though for the dramatic differences by any means. Gone are the six classes of characters to pick from and instead you have a group of four generic styled classes to choose from such as warrior, archer, shaman, and mage. Also gone are the individual classes of useable mounts and instead we get some generic mutant that looks like it was cross bred between a chicken and a triceratops then armor was put on it and a saddle. So far these dramatic changes have greatly altered from what makes Sacred such a great series, but maybe the gameplay and content will make up for this?

Sadly no it won't. Sacred Citadel's gameplay blueprint is something that one would find dating back to the 16 bit days of Golden Axe, and while some would think that to be a good thing, always remember that not everything ages well over the years. Your character will already start out with basic combo system, and when we say basic, we're talking about simple X, Y button presses. The X button is your basic attack and, yeah you guessed it, the Y button is your strong attack. Combos are initiated by pressing X first, then either up, down, left, or right on the LS and the Y button. There are more advanced combos that you can learn but they only involve more presses of the X or Y button. These combos can come in handy when you're faced with a bunch of enemies, but thanks to their dimwitted intelligence, you can run around, grouping them together in a bunch, then wail away on them until they all drop. While this gameplay is good in theory when you talk side scrolling action games, the whole movement and combat system feels over 10 years old with little to no refinement thus making it almost feel like a chore to play rather than a grand adventure, and that makes us melancholy given the wealth of potential and yet none of it used.

Now we know what you're thinking, Sacred 2 has tons of loot to collect so is it the same with Sacred Citadel? Yes and no. There are various types of weapons, which range from swords, axes, maces, hammers, bows, and more and each weapon carries a bonus attribute. For instance, swords can increase your chances of critical hits, while axes are unblockable and will always land an attack. There are other elemental bonuses that can be found attached to certain weapons as well and each of them provides another unique trait. Fire damage, as expected, will burn your enemy and cause damage after the initial attack lands, while spells such as lightning will stun enemies and keep them vulnerable to a second attack. There are also multiple armors to be found throughout the game and each as well provides different boosts and stat enhancements, however, after all this there is a lingering problem. Sacred 2 allowed you to customize multiple pieces of armor and unfortunately that is not something found in this game. This is a huge black eye given that Sacred has always been about customizing your player with new amazing gear and weapons, and that isn't found in this game. What a shame.

There are other aspects of this game that don't seem to fit the feel of the Sacred series. Aspects such as the poor attempts to knit humor into the plot or the fact that each of the four acts in the game are broken down into multiple, very short, side scrolling levels instead of one big world. While there are some similarities to be found, such as potions that can be collected and used in battle, or the distribution of character points after each time you level up, the differences you will find in Sacred Citadel amount to nothing more than a side scrolling hack and slash title instead of a dungeon crawling, loot hunting, action rpg game. Should you spend 1200 MS points on this latest entry into the Sacred series? Undoubtedly no. If you're looking for a generic side scrolling hack and slash game, then there are better ones to choose from, and if you're looking for a dungeon crawling experience that will keep you hunting for long periods of time, then again, there are better games to spend your hard earned points on.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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