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Sacred Underworld
(hx) 08:30 AM EDT - Aug,01 2005

Sacred Underworld is the first official expansion pack for the popular role play game, Sacred (review 86%). It continues to tell the story of the kingdom of Ancaria, which is now facing a dreadful threat coming from its very depths. After Shaddar's demise, you are drawn into the depths and face a completely new, bizarre, bright and vast underworld. After many adventures above and below the world's surface, you will finally stand before the Portal of Hell, in an intense and dramatic climax.

There are no real surprises here, at least not to anyone who has played the original. Sacred Underworld adds new items, monsters, quests, bonuses and another campaign, the Underworld campaign, to undertake. The expansion also adds two new characters - Dwarf and Daemon (in addition to the existing six of Dark Elf, Wood Elf, Gladiator, Vampiress, Battle Mage and Seraphim), so you can decide if to start from scratch, with the original Ancaria campaign, building up your character from the start, or go straight into the Underworld campaign, with either imported characters you've built up already, or else a pre-created level 29 Daemon or Dwarf. Both characters offer new game play features and a host of new skills and abilities. The dwarf is a small, fat warrior with a good close range ability, as well as an arsenal of ranged weaponry including hand held or back mounted cannons (grenade launcher, flame thrower), whereas the Daemon a very good close combat fighter with a few demon skills and demon magic and also shape shifting abilities that allows her to shift into various elemental forms (fire, poison- and flymode)

The gameplay is fairly entertaining and addicting almost like the original. Only the annoying monster respawn is extremely overdone here. Sometimes you can't help be frustrated since the game sends you backtracking for the several times across the same terrain, fighting the same monsters over and over again. From a different angle, in Plus once you hit Plat you were almost immortal unless lag got you. In Sacred Underworld there are plenty of ways to get killed and that's just what the game needed probably. Besides, the monsters are more challenging, dragons are scary and the new regions are just down right lethal for the ill prepared.

If you were a hard-core fan of Sacred then Sacred Underworld is highly recommended. The main reasons to buy this expansion are things like the extra quest areas, and two new characters classes.

related links: homepage, Sacred review (86%), Sacred CDROM, Sacred Underworld CDROM (will be released on August 9, 2005)

System requirements:
Minimum: PIII (or compatible) 800 Mhz Processor, 256MB RAM, 16MB 3D Graphics Card - DirectX 8 compatible, DiirectX Soundcard, 2GB free HDD space, Windows 98SE*/ME/2000/XP ; Internet Connection/Network Card required for Multiplayer modes
Recommended: P4 1.4Ghz Processor or higher, 512MB RAM or higher, 64MB 3D Graphics Card - DirectX9 compatible with DirectX 9 drivers, 3D Soundcard with DirectX 9 Support, 2.5GB HDD space, Windows 2000/XP

*Sacred is NOT COMPATIBLE with Windows 98 First Edition

Note: An original copy of SACRED or SACRED Plus is required in order to play SACRED Underworld.

snd: 4/5 - good, catchy music, mediocre voice-acting
gfx: 3/5 - almost the same as Sacred - a little dated compared to today's standards
playability: 4/5 - still pretty addictive, new campaign, two new character classes, new monsters, new items and armour sets, improved multiplayer (co-op and hack and slash modes), even more linear than the original, annoying monster respawn, pathfinding issues, some glitches
genre: action RPG
release: August 2005 (already out in Europe)
developer: Ascaron
Overall: 75%

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