Published on May 12th, 2013 | by David Guild0
Review: Sacred Citadel
Only problem with this video … dubstep :/
Looking at the trailer for Sacred Citadel, I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The game was a side scrolling beat em up which I just adore, plus it just looked great visually. I spun on my chair round and round waiting for the download status bar to hit 100% but before the download could finish I flew straight on to the godly site of information that is Wikipedia just to find out any information about the game and to see why it escaped my gaming radar!
Seemly Sacred Citadel is part of the “Sacred” series, now between me and you I know of the Sacred series but never played it or ever hand any interest. The series is an action RPG and when the first one was released I already loved Star Wars Galaxies then when the second game was released back in 2008 I was quite heavily in to World of Warcraft. So when the Xbox made its ping telling me the download was completed I got worried that I was already going to get my heart broken.
Sacred Citadel is developed by Southend Interactive which acts as a prequel to Sacred 3 which should be coming out this year. The game adds a little of the Sacred series RPGness (don’t really think that’s a word) in to a side scrolling brawler. The story is like most fantasy type games, the World (Ancaria) is endangered by an evil empire (Ashen) and some hero’s are put together to save it (you). I would love to tell you more about the story but my damn skip button kept being pressed as I wanted more monsters to slaughter!
At the start you have four heroes to choose from; The Warrior, The Ranger, The Mage and The Shaman. For most of the gameplay I went with the class that matched me well … The Warrior, I felt his amazing 6 pack and pecks looked close enough like my own and his great facial hair was to die for, plus usually Warriors can just rush straight in to battle with little to no thinking and kill everything, which is very much like me. So now you know my class, the basic storyline and my knowledge of the series let’s dive in to the gameplay shall we?
In the past couple years on XBLA we have seen quite a few side scrolling brawlers from the retro years, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage to the flamboyant remake, Double Dragon Neon. The gameplay is pretty simple then, you usually start on the left and make your way through the level by progressing right. Mobs of enemies in this case trolls, orcs and zombies appear and it’s your job to dish out the punishment as you see fit. The controls are also pretty simple as they come, light attack, power attack and a special attack when you have enough power to do so, just like the potions in Golden Axe. You also get a block and dodge buttons, so with all of that ya get some pretty neat combos, but button bashing is your friend. As a warrior, I would shout “Leeeerrrrroooooy Jenkins!!!!” then light attack, light attack then hold power attack and release to perform “Stop, Hammer Time” on their faces. Once you get the grasp of the simple control system and stop the button bashing the battle can become quite fluid. This is needed for those boss battles.
This brings me to the monsters, one of the things that annoyed me the most are the enemy models, every Orc will look like the other 20 orcs ya just smashed through and same for any other enemy type. Even the bosses get recycled after defeating them; you may see the last stages boss in the next level as just a harder normal mob and maybe a different shade to the model. In this day and age there is no excuse for lazy skinning of NPCs. Plus that isn’t all that’s wrong with them, I know in some games orcs and trolls are portrait as idiots but in this they are beyond stupid, the AI couldn’t even figure out how to navigate around certain objects in the environment. While others just didn’t have the energy to move and waited to get hit. But apart from these wee nags the game still was exciting to bash through.
Further in to the game you will notice more likeness to 1989s Golden Axe where you will encounter a mount in some creature or mechanical form. Where you can jump on and dish out the carnage, they only appear every so often and most the time they appear when they aren’t needed. Though I do have to admit the tank is quite overpowered.
Oh yes, let’s not forget the game also has some RPG elements. The most important thing in any RPG is the levelling system, killing the mobs and finishing the level in a certain time will give you experience and once you get a certain amount of that experience then “DING” you have levelled up. Levelling up will allow you to assign points to certain stats, so you can customise your hero to suit your fighting style. Along with levelling and stats you can also find armour and weapons that will increase certain abilities. I’m not sure if it’s my dislike for RPGs but I found this all rather useless and just found myself upgrading my weapons if and when I can and spreading out my experience points evenly.
Between levels ya can nip down to the local town and grab yerself a bargain, well maybe not. Killing enemies and breaking crates will usually drop some coins but I found it will take a bit of grinding to buy any decent armour or weapons. But with the amount of gear dropped in game I never found this to be a problem and instead just made sure I was stocked up on potions.
With all this being said, the best part of this game is the co-op. But instead of the usual two or four player co-op it went with three players instead. Now don’t get me wrong I find any co-op great in a game especially in a genre like this but the game has four classes so why not four players? My own guess is the developers didn’t want to fill the screen with players and enemies; the playable space is less than half the screen at the best of times so with the amount of enemies this game throws at you and then adding players to the mix, I bet it can be quite hectic. I didn’t get the chance to play with three players but enjoyed it a lot with a friend helping me out. Especially when your co-op partner can bring you back if you run out of health, it just makes the game flow a lot easier. I did mention it was online and local co-op plus leader boards didn’t I? No? Oh well it does.
As mentioned near the start I just loved the look of the game, it’s a unique style. I wouldn’t say its cel shading but it’s pretty damn close but I could be entirely wrong. While graphics aren’t my area of skill, and I find myself more in to gameplay over graphics, I just loved the look of this game. What got me was when it came to the big battles you see enemies in the background looking on to the fight, and you would think they are just there for decoration then BAM! Out it comes and makes a full charge at you. While visually the game was great, the sound could have been improved on with the basic hack and slash sound effect, I found the music forgettable as it just seemed to be on a loop. Instead of feeling like I was on a deadly adventure to Mordor, it instead gave me a trip through my local forest feeling bored.
Sacred Citadel has its problems with silly AI and overused skins, it’s a totally different approach to the series but if you’re like me and never played any of the games this shouldn’t be a problem. As mentioned time and time again in this review, it like an up to date Golden Axe, not like the monstrosity that came out in 2008 (damn you Sega). The game can either be a weekend play, rushing through or can be a 20+ hour game to net you an easy but long 400 gamerscore. Plus the game already has DLC which arrived on the games release, and there is word that more maybe on its way. I feel 1200 MSP is a bit steep for the average gamer but maybe if it went on DotW it may tempt a few gamers to get it. Anyways why not check out my “Lets Play” and if ya fancy what ya see why not try the demo here!
Always always I thank Mr Toe Knee giving me the chance to review the game, and of course the publisher who gave us the code to review.
Summary: Modern and retro put together to make a Golden Axe clone, which isn't such a bad thing. Anyone who loves Side Scrolling Hack and Slash games are in for a treat!