by Kazlo

So I was looking around on the $5 bargain shelves at the local Liquidation World, shuffling through the usual crap, when I spotted a little surprise: Sacred, a little-known but generally well-received Diablo II clone from 2005, with a sequel on the way. The computer-edited screens and uninspired character portraits on the box didn't really draw me in (an ugly Valkyrie who's topless except for two apparently sticky "nipple shields"? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP!) I've kinda been clamouring for PC RPGs this summer, and God knows I've spent more money on shittier games, so I decided I'd snap it up. Little did I know my epic quest was only beginning!

My computer hasn't been running too well in the summer heat, so I'm not gonna hold that against the game, but it's still a pain when an installation involves more decompression than actual moving of files, cause it means I'm gonna have to wait an hour for it to finish while my computer whirrs and blows more hot air than a jet engine. Add to that a hour-long wait to download and install patches and I'm really starting to expect much. Finally, after a final settings check, I'm ready to double-click and start my adventures in... uh... "Ancaria".

Man, this disc check is taking a long time.

What the hell do you mean "disk verification error"? I just installed the fucking game! I haven't even taken the disc out of the drive! Well, great. Now I'm downloading a no-cd crack so I can play the game I just bought. And people ask why I play console games.

This is more like it! Rousing music, a sorta-cool menu, and a fair number of character classes with some... well, okay, crappy voice acting. Let's see. Dark Elf? No thanks, I have enough brooding gay characters in Final Fantasy. Seraphim? I'd rather not be wasting all my skill points in "whoring" just so I can afford more hair extensions. Vampiress! Seducing and biting young maidens to form a harem of the undead. That's what I'm talking about. I hit "OK" with my ass-kicking boots and threw away my last package of bubble gum.

SHIT ON A SHINGLE. Pictured right is what I was greeted with a second after starting the game. The game starts up as normal but the screen almost immediately fades to black, with "gameplay" and audio continuing as normal. It's not a bug, either. I finally decided to do some research and check a few help sites, and everywhere I come to the same answer: copy protection.

Fair enough, I was using a no-CD crack at the time. Ahhh! But what about when I was using the actual disk? Well, Ascaron Entertainment, in their infinite wisdom, added two layers of protection into their game. While most companies would be content to use software that detects their disk being used in a virtual drive, Sacred blocks users that have virtual drive programs on their computers at all by tossing up a bullshit "disk verification error" message. That wouldn't be so bad if they would just say "VIRTUAL DRIVE DETECTED: FUCK YOU" instead of bullshitting me. And if you bypass that? You get the infamous "fade-to-black" problem that makes the game unplayable! And if you decide to uninstall your virtual drive programs? TOO BAD! No amount of reinstalls will make the game work on your PC.

I'm kinda pissed. The game may have only been five bucks, and for all I know it sucks, but thanks to Ascaron's overzealous copy protection, I just wasted an afternoon installing, patching, and troubleshooting their goddamn game only to find out I'll never get to play it unless I format my PC. And forget me, what about people who paid 40 bucks for this game back when it was new only to find out they bought a phony "disk protection error" in a five cent jewel case? They got the same thing this game gets:


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