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The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Being a man of science, and to some degree mysticism, I must admit the whole
"one god" idea never really flew with me. Indeed, all those years
of Catholic school failed to convince me that the human civilization is only
1200 years old and that our wonderful planet was a gift from some long haired,
love-starved old Caucasian guy who is all-knowing, all-powerful and always in
need of money. You’d think the guy would learn how to balance a checkbook, or
at least be eligible for a Discover card! As a matter of fact, the only really
good thing Catholicism has done for me was point me in the direction of some
good old debauchery. No offense to all you catechumen
out there…(I wouldn’t go to sleep tonight, Shawn…or should I say…blasphemer!
Click to enlarge!
The idea of a pantheon of deities has always been more appealing. Gods for
the natural elements and gods for the seasons makes some archaic sense around
which I can more easily wrap my mind. Well, lucky for me our preview copy of
Sacrifice, Interplay’s upcoming 3D Action/RTS, has arrived. Thank the
wood nymphs, indeed!
In a distant realm, soothsayer Mithras has prophesied that a great evil has
arrived. Unfortunately for you, this is the same evil that destroyed your previous
home world, resulting in you fleeing to this realm to save your neck. Now it
seems the evil, which was thought to be left behind, has resurfaced to lay waste
to yet another plane. Your task is clear, but first you must make yourself known
to the local powers on high. They must view you as a capable and efficient master
of the arcane arts, if you are to enlist their support for your endeavor.
Sacrifice is set in a fanciful world overseen by 5 deities. There’s
Persephone, benevolent and beautiful mistress of peace and love; James, lord
of soil, dirt, rock and other earthly matter (his resemblance to Earthworm Jim
is no coincidence); and Stratos, deity of the air and somewhat disputed ruler
over the heavens and the elements. These are the celestials of right and often
share the same ultimate intentions.
Pyro and Charnel have an altogether different agenda. Pyro is the god of his
namesake and the bringer of flaming destruction and chaos – though Pyro will
argue that he is the spark of industry and the bearer of light. Charnel is evil
personified. He is the appointed lord of slaughter and champion of death. Not
a fuzzy bunny.
Each deity has their own special brand of spells and creatures which will be
bestowed upon any capable and obedient wizard (namely, you). Spells range from
prosaic projectile explosives to topography altering volcanoes and storm-spitting
flying abominations. And for the most part, they look amazing. The particle
effects and light-sourcing for these mystic delights is downright jaw-dropping.
As I removed my mandible from the floor, I noticed the incredibly beautiful
skies and clouds (most notably Pyro’s areas). The graphics are just stunning
and truly define "next generation."
The single player campaign has you completing missions for the different gods.
But in a killer design twist, it’s not really linear. You can align yourself
with one god for one mission, then switch gears and help out an opposing god
in the following mission. Want a few of Pyro’s spells and creatures to accompany
those that, say, Charnel betowed in the last mission? No problem – just choose
to do Pyro’s bidding on your next mission. Each deity has 9 missions, totaling
49 single player missions in all (including 3 tutorials). Tack on 5 different
endings (1 for each god) and the ablity to save your wizard and beef him up
even further by playing the campaign again or choosing a multiplayer game, and
we’re talking about a tremendous amount of replay value. Unprecedented, to be
Click to enlarge!
Sacrifice is a fully polygonal, fully 3D RTS, much in the vein of Ground
Control or Dark Reign
2. Controlling your character is not unlike the Tomb
Raider series or any other third-person adventure game. This means you’re
in charge of dodging and maneuvering in and out of harms way – not a mouse click.
This is perfect for gamers who like RTS titles for the impressive battles and
intricate spells, but do not appreciate the pulled back, tiny and distorted
camera views. With an over-the-shoulder camera that can zoom in and throw you
face to face with a snarling Flummox, players take complete control over their
mage. The camera can also be moved along the X and Y-axis for a better view
at what is happening on the battlefield.
Sacrifice further deviates from the RTS norm in its resource management.
Your two resources are mana and souls.
When you begin a mission, you need to find a mana fountain, a geyser of mystic
energy that supplies mana to any wizard within range. However, you may build
a ‘manalith’ over the geyser to claim it as your own. Much of the gameplay revolves
around the protection/destruction of manaliths.
A manahore is a direct conduit to your manaliths. These creatures are completely
unskilled in fighting and will perish shortly after joining the fray. This could
mean the difference between appeasing your god or earning their ire. No manhores
results in no mana, which in turn means the inability to create anything or
cast any spells.
In order to create any units, you must have a certain number of ‘souls’ at
your disposal. When a creature dies, its soul will float above its decaying
carcass. Gather up these souls to create more units. Recycling certainly has