In another world there was once a man, a wizard named Eldred. He was not a hero, he was more a villain in truth. Wanting to destroy his enemies he summoned a creature that had a hard time differentiating enemies from everything — perhaps it was a cruel bit of irony as Eldred saw enemies everywhere. In any event Eldred fled across the astral void to another world. This world had five gods vying for power and would appreciate the service of a capable wizard. But… history has a nasty way of repeating itself. Run, cast spells, endure death, and choose your deity wisely in this third person Real Time Strategy game.
Sacrifice was made by Shiny Entertainment, the makers of Earthworm Jim and MDK. David Perry directed the project with music by Kevin Manthei and creature design and modelling by Joby-Rome Otero. The total team was around 25 people. Sacrifice also had stellar voice acting. With performances by Brad Garret, Tim Curry, Jennifer Hale, Tony Jay, and Paul Eiding — this game has got a near dream team of talent voicing it.
Sacrifice used the same engine as their previous game, Messiah which drew a lot of fire from expectant fans and people who opposed its religious connotations. These attitudes lead Shiny’s director, Perry, to make Sacrifice in total silence only breaking it months before release to advertise the game.
Sacrifice was released on November 17th, 2000. It’s competition was Megaman Legends 2 (PS1), Banjo Tooie (Nintendo 64). and Tomb Raider Chronicles (PS1 and Dreamcast).
When I played through the game I was a goody-lil’-two-shoes 12 year old so naturally I chose to follow Persephone, the goddess of justice– justice spelled in all caps while decapitating something–, because I’m a good guy and that’s what good guys do. I played through the game and beat the big bad and felt accomplished because I saved the day but then I wondered what happens when I play someone else. As it turns out, the story is exactly the same but there’s so much more going on than any individual god is aware of. Playing through every campaign is the only way to get the full story. Some of the events and betrayals and backstabbing blew my mind.
Sacrifice is an odd game. It’s a third person real time strategy game and it’s just as weird as it sounds. Instead of playing an omniscient commander who has full knowledge of the battlefield who orders things around, you play as a spell casting ground commander with no combat capabilities — soooo you’re Gandalf without the swordplay. Every wizard serves one of the five gods of the realm except for a few who are freelancers or mercenaries.
Wizards can summon creatures, cast spells, and order troops.. A wizard can only produce as many troops as it — and there are some wizards that are ‘its’ and not ‘whos’– has souls. Wizards can purify souls captured from enemies in order to add more souls to their supply and some creatures are worth more souls than others. Contrary to popular adage wizards do not die when they are killed, they are merely rendered incorporeal and incapable of casting spells until they get enough mana shoved back into them. As such the goal of most missions is to desecrate your opponents altar which banishes them from the realm.
It should come as no surprise that the voice acting in this game is super good. Tim Curry’s voice is delightfully sleazy while Tony Jay’s is appropriately wise and yet off in some way. Everyone delivers an absolutely amazing performance — except some bit parts and peasants which sound like they were recorded from across the room.
The Good Old Games version of this game comes with a digital version of the manual and each of the sections concerning the gods is written in that deity’s voice. It also includes an abridged history of the world which sheds some light on situations in the game. If you get the game get it through Good Old Games.
The creature design is really great. Even the palette swapped creatures look incredibly different from their counterparts and it’s explained that all the palette swapped creatures are the same creature but raised in a different environment — nice save developers, nice save.
Everything in this game is oozing with character. From the gods and the wizards with their taunts and incidental dialogue to the creatures and their descriptions and actions in the game.
There are some situations where I wish so dearly that the wizard had a melee attack. No matter how weak or useless or utterly crappy it would be I wish they could do something besides getting punched in the face. Naturally, wizards have attack spells but the cooldown on them is so long that there’s usually not enough attack spells to go around. What really irks me is that some wizards even have weapons — the Hachimen have a sword — and they make no use of them.
Melee attacking creatures are typically not very good. It stands to reason that they’re meant to take out weaker ranged attackers but enemies can move out of the way and sometimes they do so seemingly out of reflex. The only thing Melee units are really good at is destroying structures but if they’re something guarding it then they’ll usually die before they can rush the gap.
The main mechanic of a real time strategy game is selecting units and ordering them around but the 3D environment makes this really difficult. It’s usually best or easiest to order a unit to guard you or a structure and let them make their own decisions.
This game has got multiplayer but I’ve never been able to get in a game. The community’s probably too small to support a multiplayer atmosphere. So it’s just this bizarre vestigial limb or redundant organ that no longer serves a purpose.
It’s really difficult to select and order units without using control groups. If you don’t keep on top of what creature is where then it’s really difficult to get things in order. The minimap is useless for controlling multiple units because everything on it is just a colored square. Are those my melee guys or my ranged guys? I don’t fucking know they’re all just white dots! This game demanded that I be more organized than ever and it was a real chore.
This game is rock solid. It’s well worth the ten dollar price tag. It’s an experience that wasn’t recreated until Brutal Legend did something similar. It’s got a compelling story and just enough character to keep me wishing there was a sequel.