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Sacrifice Review

publisher: Interplay
developer: Shiny Entertainment
genre: Strategy

PII-300, 64MB RAM, 650MB HDD, 8MB 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T

release date: Nov 05, 00
» All About Sacrifice on ActionTrip

November 17, 2000

During the past few days, ever since I've written my first impressions of the game, my workdays have been spent playing Sacrifice. Hell, I was so diligent I even brought my work home, and kinda continued to research the review material in order to please my bosses and feel a sense of accomplishment from a job well-done. I take my job very seriously you know, and when the boss says - play Sacrifice! I obey... OK, I should probably stop being such a lying bastard and tell you the truth. I loved every minute of it, and even if I weren't a "hardened professional" I'd probably pester Dave Perry into sending me a copy of the game claiming I'll "pay for his next game, honest!" After all, I am a cheap bastard.

Even though I may be biased when it comes to Sacrifice, being that I've followed its progress with great interest from the day it was announced, it doesn't in any way diminish the fact that I was pleasantly surprised by the level of creativity and influence that some of the game's unique concepts had on my final opinion. To tell you the truth, I wasn't really thrilled with Messiah, especially because the code seemed kinda rushed, and I must say I took Dave Perry's statement that Sacrifice will be released around October with a grain of salt. Usually, I can spot a potential hit when I see one, and that's exactly how I felt about Sacrifice. As it turns out, my initial thoughts were for the most part based on just a fraction of the big picture. During the E3 presentation I got carried away by Joby Otero's (Art Director) excellent designs and by the spectacular appearance of some of the spells, but I generally had no real sense of what this game could offer outside of spectacular graphics and all the press hoopla... I must say that Sacrifice is one of the first games this year to kinda surpass my initial expectations based on the initial hype, which is the best thing about a game that can happen to both the gamer who bought it and the developer who put time and effort into making it.

Sacrifice casts players in the role of a fallen tyrant, now a wizard who has to manipulate, sweet-talk, and muscle his way in order to appease the Gods. He is one of Gods' Champions -- a kind of a Semi-God among mortals... Our wizard is not a good person, but he is not an anti-hero either. He is what you make of him, as his actions don't really fall into either of the ethical categories. It's the same with the Gods -- there aren't any good or completely evil Gods. Sacrifice story definitely dwells into the regions of grayish morality in which certain actions that are defined as evil have to be taken for the greater good, or as it turns out, prove as genuinely evil actions since they were a product of somebody else's manipulation over your character. I was a bit surprised to see such literary views applied to a game. The best comparisons I can think of are Theseus and Hercules, heroes and Semi-Gods from the Ancient Greek mythology. The power of a God is derived from the strength of belief of his followers, and matter is never lost, it simply takes another form (converts) as there always is a pre-defined number of souls used in a mission.

Arrggh, I'm really starting to annoy myself. I'm going into stuff that far exceed the scope of this review, but there are just so many genuinely different concepts in Sacrifice...

The actual Sacrifice gameplay is best described as a Battlezonish (Caesar's view of the battle) action strategy with a strong RPG influence -- RPG in a sense that you select, create and develop your character and that your wizard uses spells, acquires levels, and gets more powerful as he progresses through the game.

Two of the greatest innovations in the RTS field are: the constant number of units (i.e. predefined number of souls) -- meaning you can't make another unit by simply gathering Mana, you actually have to convert it from a dead enemy, and the introduction of the chess like Altar (i.e. King piece). Simple enough, once your Altar is destroyed, your wizard is no more, and if you're smart enough and use defensive spells properly, you can even skip the entire battle-it-out action RTS concept and just look for that check mate by being evasive and cunning (looking to desecrate the enemy Altar while sustaining speedy movement). RPG elements are amplified by the spectacular appearance and the effects, as well a wide variety of differing defensive and offensive spells the combination of which is largely influenced by your character's relationship with different Gods. Now wrap that whole thing up into an action-packed combat environment and some rather non-linear branching of the plot, present the entire thing in a narrative fashion (retrospective - narration of the past events), and what you get is a game that is very different from the usual stuff we're constantly bombarded with. Sacrifice features a more mature Shiny concepts and is spiced up with some novel gameplay ideas which are brought to life in their recognizable surreal comic-like art style...

Phew, if that doesn't sound like something that's just DIFFERENT, I don't know what does.

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9.2   Excellent

Incredibly creative, fantastic design;

SP campaign could've been a tad longer.


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