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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Interplay

 

Developer

Shiny Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Amazing graphics

- Exceptional audio

- Tough AI

- Very unique gameplay

- A load of replay value

 

 

- Very minor camera issues

- Not enough phrases for unit types

- Need an alternative to the depressing Surrender option when quitting the game to go have dinner

 

 

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Sacrifice

Score: 9.0 / 10

For the longest time it looked like everyone was jumping on the Warcraft / Starcraft bandwagon when it came to real-time strategy games: 2D art with an overhead view, technology trees, and letís not forget the fog of war. Thankfully that has started to change over the last few months as these types of games have taken the plunge into 3D gaming with titles like Shogun: Total War. Sacrifice has taken the 3D route as well, and it looks amazing. But this game isnít just a pretty face, the deep gameplay and replay value catapult this title head and shoulders above the crowd.

 

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The visuals for Sacrifice are almost beyond words theyíre so beautiful. Character design is some of the most interesting to come along in a while. Instead of going with more traditional character classes for a fantasy setting the game gives players a wide variety of unusual, abstract, yet charming beings to command into battle. From the almost bat-like Brainiacs with their bulging, larval-shaped bodies, to the unconventional appearance of the gnomes the character design brings some fresh ideas to the game. What are really amazing are the environments of Sacrifice. While the settings are traditional Ė deserts, snow fields, forests, and such Ė the presentation of these places is second to none. Players can see right up to the vanishing point where objects are out of range of the human eye. As such itís possible to stand on a tall hill and look over a sweeping valley, while being able to see all that is within it as well as what lies on the other side. Better still is the sky with its rolling clouds and little rays of light shining through. Speaking of rays of light, there are some mighty impressive lighting effects to appease gamersí graphical sweet tooth. Be it electrical bolts while souls are being offered at the altar, to your wizard casting a spell, or one of the gods pointing something out, the lighting effects just make Sacrifice that much more of a graphical wonder.

 

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It isnít just the visuals that are amazing, the depth of gameplay is equally impressive. When first starting out the game can be a shade overwhelming as it moves at a quick pace, but once the basics are understood it becomes simply a matter of strategizing. It is very easy to assign groups to hot keys for easy army management, deploying them without any hassles. Players simply choose how they want to divvy up their forces, then when it comes time 

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to strike call up this or that unit and tell them to attack. There are plenty of different air and ground units, as well as melee and ranged units to choose from, each with the usual mix of strengths and weaknesses. An interesting feature is that if your wizard, who is the character you control directly and the star of the game, loses all of his hit points he does not die, he simply takes on an ethereal form. Unfortunately while in this form players cannot cast spells, nor can they retrieve the souls of their fallen soldiers. At this point they must hustle back to their altar to regain mana in order to regain their corporeal form. The only way the wizard dies is if the enemy desecrates his altar; of course this rule also applies to the enemy wizard.

While in battle the AI is surprisingly good, and can make mincemeat out of you if you donít think fast on your feet. Itís not out of the question for some of the enemy troops to keep your forces occupied while another pack makes a beeline for your altar and desecrates it.

 

Even the audio is of exceptional quality. The music is very surreal with a mix of gothic chanting and some electronic tunes that play off of each other very well to add to the mood of the game. Sound effects have plenty of zest, whether it is lightning bolts or shouts from your beasts. Very nice to see is that the voice acting is especially good here. The gods all have great voice acting that fit them perfectly, James being of particular note, and your imp sidekick, Zyzyx, has some very funny comments. The only downside is that there arenít too many phrases for the different unit types so their expressions get old fast. However this isnít nearly enough to hurt the overall quality of the gameís aural experience.

The story is setup in a very interesting way. It is the same overall story no matter what, but depending on the path that the player chooses they will experience it in different ways depending on which god they are working for at the time. A player could choose to do something for Pyro, but while there the tasks that the other gods asked of you are being taken care of, doing their part to progress the story. If you want to experience them all youíll have to go back in the game and play them, which adds a ton of replay value to the title. Also of note is that after working for certain gods for a period of time, others will eventually not allow you to work for them anymore, either because you did something for another god that went against their interests, or simply for snubbing that particular god for a while.  With each different god your work for you get that many different creatures at your disposal, so choosing who to work for becomes yet another factor to consider while playing.

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A couple other minor quibbles with the game that should be addressed, first the zoom feature on the camera can be a shade troublesome. Zooming in and out can be done by putting the pointer at the extreme top and bottom of the screen, however during the heat of battle, trying to grab certain characters in the distance to issue specific commands to them can cause the camera to zoom in, limiting your field of vision. The other minor annoyance is how to quit games. Thereís no Quit Game option, itís simply Surrender. Upon choosing it your wizard and all of you beast die and Zyzyx says, "Your creatures are dying". Sheesh! I had to go eat dinner, give me a break!

Minor complaints aside, Sacrifice is a great game. Itís easy on the eyes, plenty challenging, and thereís still lots to do even after finishing the game the first time.

- Mr. Nash

 

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