November 17, 2000 | Andy Largent
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Owners of the very first revision of iMac might remember an odd little game called MDK was included in their bundle of software. This distinctly 'different' take on the first person shooter from Shiny Entertainment was a combination of fun gameplay and very original graphics and characters. To continue their pattern of thinking differently, Shiny's latest title combines elements from strategy and role-playing genres, adds five quirky gods, and mixes everything together with amazing graphics to produce Sacrifice. As of this writing, the game has just been completed for the PC and will be heading to the Mac under the newly-revived MacPlay banner.
Sacrifice most closely resembles a real time strategy game, but unlike other RTS titles you may be familiar with (like Starcraft or Total Annihilation), it takes a different direction with the genre. In fact, the genre itself is changing, as companies begin to switch from 2D worlds filled with sprites to 3D engines that rendering everything in real time. There are obviously pros and cons to both, and some gamers could easily get into a religious war over which is better. Regardless, a large problem with 3D is that even with the relatively powerful hardware in many computers today, rendering as many units as 2D games are able to produce in real time can prove a difficult task. The way around this is to shift the gameplay from fighting with many, perhaps hundreds, of units to a fewer and more micro-managable number of characters. This increases the importance of each, and much like Blizzard is planning with Warcraft III, Sacrifice gives the player a hero to identify with and control.
In Sacrifice, this hero is a wizard with which you can cast powerful spells to summon an army, launch an attack, or change the landscape. The camera is always focused on this character (much like 3rd person games FAKK2 or Rune), so if you want to see what's happening someplace else on the map, you need to move your wizard to the action. Unfortunately, as a lifelong practicioner of magic, your character is physically weak. Moving away from your home Altar is not recommended unless you have some sort of protection. Your best defense is to summon a sort of personal guard of creatures to aid in your quest. Summoning help isn't free, though, and you need to utilize the game's resource efficiently in order to succeed.
Unlike other RTS titles, in Sacrifice you don't have to worry about getting peons to continually harvest resources of lumber, gold, gas or crystals to build up an army. All you require to summon a character is a soul and a bit of mana. Souls are easy enough to find, thanks to the war-torn battlefields which lay before you. Once a creature is dead, their soul hovers above the body, waiting to be snatched up. If the dead was an ally of yours, reusing the soul isn't a problem. If the creature was fighting for your enemy, though, it must be blessed at your Altar before you can use it in a new creation.