Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sacred 2, Titan Quest, Impressions & Comparisons

(note: this is very long, read at your own risk)

Over the long weekend I grabbed Sacred 2 for the PS3 and put 10+ hours into it. I actually waited to get the PS3 version instead of the PC one as I heard the PC one had bugs and it's multiplayer community was small. Of course this is taking a huge leap of faith that the PS3 version wasn't going to have more bugs than the PC one ;) So far it seems to be OK.

Some thoughts on PS3 version vs PC version:

Pros of PS3 version of Sacred 2:
- Big-Screen TV. Plasma 16:9 HD looks great.
- PS3 controller vs. Keyboard/Mouse (this may be viewed to some as a CON). Using the controller seems a lot better for long gaming sessions, which Sacred 2 is going to offer alot.
- "Couch CO-OP*. Although I won't be making use of this feature :cry: it's a huge selling point for a lot of people. Play co-op on the same console, in the same room. Right now there's a missing "feature" of this mode where you can't trade items between each other. We're promised it's to be fixed in a future patch.
- PSN Friend List: Yay .. I have some ppl to play with that I know already. Now I just need them to get a copy of the game.
- Leaderboard: Shows the top player's by level, xp/level, filtered by all classes or by a particular class. Pretty cool stuff, shows number of deaths too. Now how hard is it to cheat this list? Not sure yet.

Cons of PS3 version of Sacred 2:
- PS3 Controller. Yeah I put this as a PRO too as I think it's more comfortable playing this way for a long time, but it's a bit more clunky when navigating menus, casting spells on the ground, or generally selecting the enemy you are attacking.
- No Movies to share with others. I love this about TQ playing on the PC, being able to fraps up some cool stuff that happens and share it. I think you can save PS3 screenshots but I'm not sure how yet.
- No Hardcore mode. I didn't even know the game had this mode until I started looking at Sacred 2's forums. Oh well, just like TQ we can all make our own version of the HC mode and delete our char if we want to apon death.
- No Full HD install. Argh. My poor PS3 HD is pretty full as it is, but there are certain towns when you go running thru and the game just waits while trying to catch up, steaming new data from the blue-ray player, putting a spinning disc icon at the top of the screen. I hear the PC version has(had?) some of these same kind of issues.
- Only 4 player online. (PC allows 16 at once I believe)
- $10 higher price on average than PC version.


Now to compare the game to Titan Quest a bit.

Performance: Winner by a large margin: Titan Quest.
Sacred 2 runs slower than Titan Quest. Chunky movements and scrolling of the screen make it seem like the PS3 is just barely keeping up, even when you are just running along the road with no monsters or anything else nearby. Combat sequences are also "chunky" where your attacks don't always look like they're hitting or you're swinging on the other side of your enemy. Titan Quest is awesome about making everything feel "right" when it comes to collision between weapons and the enemy. I'm sure it depends on your computer power but on mine, TQ performs wonderfully. Both games offer rag-doll physics of enemies rolling down hills, flying off walls, etc. S2 suffers from not being able to move over simple obstacles or change in elevation of terrain. It can be very frustrating.

Monster AI: Winner by a slight margin: Sacred 2.
Both games have some issues when it comes to AI. Monsters will seem to not want to fight you, stand still at times even when fairly close. It's not so bad that it gets in the way of gameplay, but it's noticeable. Sacred 2 does have monsters fighting amongst themselves at times, which is pretty cool. Kobolds fighting undead, for example.

Graphics: Winner by good margin: Titan Quest.
It's a bit hard for me to do a good comparison on the graphics. Although I have a nice HDTV to play Sacred 2 on, it still is only 720p and at times the objects of the game mesh together all too much. The poly count on S2 seems a bit lower as well. S2 does allow you to rotate the camera so the scenes don't have to be designed with a static camera angle in mind. TQ is just beautiful, however, and wins this battle fairly easily.

Loot: Winner by a good margin: Sacred 2.
Titan Quest has a lot of loot. A LOT. Sacred 2 seems to have more. This is just a perception from just getting to know the game, but it looks like a lot more mods and combinations are possible on S2 loot. Most people know that in TQ a Hale Eurubean Mace of Annihilation will do you well, and that the set and purple items typically fall short of the greens. This quickly makes a lot of the loot you find in TQ not very interesting. Depending on how much you know about the loot, the affixes, and what you're looking for, this may not be as obvious at first, when you're jaw is dropping at all the wonderful shiny loot dropping.

Quests: Winner by a good margin: Sacred 2.
TQ has a good amount of quests. Most of them are just there to move things along. There are some side-quests that give you additional gold, experience, items, and sometimes extra skills and stats. A lot of players will just do the side-quests if they give extra skills or stats. For some reason these other quests just "get in the way", although I tend to try and do all of them. Sacred 2 has an insane number of quests. It seems like running one quest will bring you to a new area where you grab 4-5 more quests, and so-on. They tend to be focuses on just giving you extra EXP and gold, which seems worthwhile so far. Variety does lack a bit, it's usually the same as any other quests, kill X number of these monsters, collect X number of this. Some are quite funny tho, if you can be bothered to read the text that accompanies them. Sacred 2 wins this category just because of it's sheer volume of quests it offers which looks like to me to be about 10x as many as TQ.

Longevity: Winner by a slight margin: Sacred 2.
Both of these games you could easily sink 1000's of hours into. They're both made that way. Even if you clear all 3 difficulties in TQ, you can start one of the other 35 class combinations and have at it again. You can play the XmaX or Uber mods to give yourself even more challenge. There is Lilith, a complete game in a TQ mod format. There's a lot to do in TQ! There are tools out there that can lessen the lifespan as well, at least for me anyways.

TQ Vault helps keep all the stuff you've found on any character, and easily trade it to another. You can even make duplicates of the item, modify them, or create the "perfect" version of an item. For example, the Archmage's Clasp can give -45% recharge or -47% recharge. Many builds will need that extra 2% to reach 100%. Of course you can just ignore the "cheating" features of TQ Vault, and that's entirely possible.. but if you are playing with others that don't ignore them, you are being affected by it indirectly. Want to know why nobody else is picking up the runes/charms that are dropping? Probably because they have a vault full of them and dupe a new one whenever they need it for a artifact or to socket a green item. So by them doing that, you are getting far more relics and charms then you would by having to split them up.. your game is tainted. THX GG ;)

And then there's defiler.. which allows you to do just about anything to your character. I haven't tried defiler personally, but it's a cheating tool to the extreme. Without using it, I can only go by what I see ppl saying about it on the forums, but there doesn't seem to be many limits. Players who use this to cheat on a constant basis must grow bored and quit the game very quickly.

Now to Sacred 2. There are 5 difficulties instead of 3. The land is just gigantic. It's not uncommon to be playing for 15 hours and only have 2% of the land discovered. A lot of this is simply because it can be difficult to move over terrain in S2. A simple change of 2 feet in elevation may be enough to deem an area impassible. It's a vast area which looks like it will take a very long time to explore. The level of your character can reach several hundred, opposed to a max of 75 on TQ. Now characters in each game do not level at the same speed, so this is not a great comparison. Right now the highest level on the PS3 S2 leaderboard is only 150 or so, and the game has been out a week or so, if this gives you any idea.

It may be because I haven't played the game enough, but I don't beleive you farm bosses for loot in S2 the same way you would with Diablo II (mephisto, etc.) or TQ (Hydra, Typhon, Hades, SP, etc). I think this is a good thing. Farming bosses gives you good loot too fast, and makes the game boring too quickly.

Overall Winner: Titan Quest by a slight margin
Both of these games are worthy as placeholders for a diablo-type game until Diablo III is released. They are definitely going to be worth the money you spend ($20 for Titan Quest + expansion, $50-$60 for Sacred 2). Titan quest is a much cleaner and more polished game. It's a sandbox that's been tweaked and catered to with a core gameplay that's extremely rewarding. Looking back at the original reviews of the game, I saw one of them where the guy actually said he thought the game was too long. (This was before the expansion, Immortal Throne). I can't help to think that this wasn't that reviewer's type of game. It's not that TQ is short, it's just that if you are having fun playing the game, wouldn't you want it to keep going instead of it just suddenly ending with a "You Win" screen?

These games need to be fun at the core so you want to play to level 300 or farm a boss 100 times in a row for some special loot. They need to be long, offering reasons to play the same content more than once with more challenges, more rewards. Sacred 2 has more stuff to do, but the game is not quite as good at the basic gameplay. You wont have dramatically different builds in a single class. Instead of making 6-7 characters and playing them to level 65 in TQ, you will probably stick with 2-3 and level them a lot longer in S2.

That's about it I guess. I wrote a lot of stuff, sorry if anyone suffered by reading it all =) The last thing I'd like to say about these games is: Play them multiplayer. They were made for MP and are a lot more fun that way.


  1. Very good article, I was just passing by looking for a nice comparison of the games. I wanted to see which game I should start with a group of friends as a multiplayer hack-and-slash campaign. Just to let you know, I am going with S2 as many believe the campaign is greatly improved by the multiplayer aspect, where TQ is as much fun to play by yourself.

  2. Facing the same debate myself.

    I just can't justify playing anymore Diablo the only thing I haven't done is winning a ladder and that's only because I have a job and don't smoke crack. However that's still my favorite style of game and there aren't a lot of good alternatives. Gauntlet on PS2 had fun co-op, Summoner was fun for a stint back in the day although I never tried the sequel, but nothing else really hooked me and there were some disasters. Raise your hand if you got a lifetime subscription to Hellgate and ended up paying $200 for a few months of multi-player without constant crashes and bugs or believed friends who said WoW starts at 70 only to find out after all the grinding raids and dungeons are just a new kind of boring unless frustration is your flavor of fun.

    Anywho, after trying and eliminating pretty much all MMOs and determining they all have the same basic turn offs I finally got around to playing the demos of both Titan Quest and Sacred 2 on PC today and I have to say I'm going with TQ.

    S2 seemed clunky and riddled with bugs the demo actually crashed on me twice I never even started it back up after the second time (perhaps this is not an issue on PS3?) In contrast when I got to the end of the TQ demo it left me wanting more and cursing them for putting a level 6 cap and finding myself out of demo material so quickly after only an hour or so.

    On the plus side S2 brings some uniqueness to the table. The quirky sense of humor reminded me a bit of Bard's Tale although it might get old after awhile but more importantly I liked the idea of balancing the leveling up of skills which are based on decreasing cooldowns while having penalties increasing by equipping items. Use more skills more often or have better gear? That might be oversimplifying but it seems to be a focus.

    Also they seem to have added in those "wouldn't it be nice if" features. Allowing multiple cameras, positional voice acting, NPC interaction without player input, etc. Case and point: tap Q key to pick up all nearby loot filtered by quality in your settings. It's hard to describe how awesome that is if you are going to invest any time into an RPG game. I've played other games which have a "loot all" option even though Diablo and TQ don't unless you count holding down alt but never one with such a large radius and the ability to filter what to pickup with the granularity of S2.

    Still TQ seems to be more solid and polished and delivers despite pretty much being a Diablo clone with only slight modifications just enough to remind you that you aren't actually playing a 3D Diablo. The biggest drawback seems to be the online community which is almost entirely comprised of cheaters which generally sucks the fun out of the game ... if I wanted a second job I'd be getting paid. That said the LAN play option with a few friends will probably be exactly what I'm looking for.

    You never know maybe just maybe Blizzard can stop getting distracted by their greed with WoW long enough to finish and release Diablo 3 before Activision gets their grubby paws all over it and causes the longest anticipated and largest disappointment of video game history.