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[LoD v1.09x] Sancturay in Chaos v2.0b by JBouley
Title [LoD v1.09x] Sancturay in Chaos v2.0b by JBouley
Description Reviewed by Maxx Power for the Phrozen Keep.
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It had to happen eventually. Somewhere along the line I would run smack into a mod created by one of the members of the Keep. It’s one thing to slate mods from hosted sites, it’s another to do it to one of my fellow “work-mates”. Probably the worse part of this scenario is that I’m reviewing the very mod made by the main man at the Keep, Mr. Jeff Bouley. His metaphorical hand of god could strike me from this earth, or at least from Gamespy’s mailing list. Thankfully, however, I don’t have to worry too much about that happening. Sanctuary In Chaos is a mod with a lot of merits to its name, and a lifesaver for my career as a writer. Until I have to do this again. I digress.

What Works
To be honest, not a lot has been radically changed gameplay wise when it comes to Chaos in Sanctuary. Then again, if a mod like that came along, then I would expect the words Blizzard to come in tow. Despite this, SiC is definatly a top class mod, one which changes the Diablo experience enough to warrant another play through, from the lowly, tedious level one character whacking rats, to a level ninty god with the power to smite Baal with one hit. Let’s face it, that’s the main reason why we play these mods in the first place.

Firstly, the new myriad of items to play around with. The usual new uniques and sets to go with your items, as well as a few interesting new inclusions into the mix. There are armors which can be equipped as a shield, a feat of modding ingenuity, if slightly annoying that these shields have no blocking on them. Still, it’s quite unusual to be holding a cloak on your arm for protection. As well as this, many new class specific items have crawled up from the depth’s of Jeff’s mind. These included new weapons for the barbarian, a rather unusual pair of gloves/gaunlets, a nice inclusion, seeing as though Blizzard neglected to add class-specific weapons for most of the characters. Also, there are a few new cube items, solely for the purpose of transmuting for the continuing trend of item customization. You would think, though, that all of these new items would cause confusion after a few seconds of looking at them. You would be wrong.

Do you remember way back when I reviewed New Dawn X? There I mentioned how an effort had been made to change what was said my the characters, a nice new inclusion, if not directly affecting the game in anyway. Well, SiC also continues in this style, if only adding new text to the proceedings to give clues to the player as to the brand new recipes available. It’s certainly more original than the usual tactic of telling people to ‘go to the site’ for cube recipes, and avoids sitting with sheets of paper with the new recipes written down.

Speaking of which, SiC brings about renewed life into the item known as Scrolls of Knowledge. These items, originally designed for the LOD expansion pack, were cut at the last minute. Jeff proves to us all how these items could have been used to great affect within the game. Scrolls can be dropped at random, or in some cases bought, giving the player a few insights into the idea of rune words, cube recipes, and so on. Also included on these scrolls is the occasional piece of advice to the Diablo player. Who said this game wasn’t educational?

I’ve dwelled on the items long enough, so let’s have a look at some of the monsters. The new beasts to be found are varied enough from their original Diablo counterparts, surprizing even the most hardened of mod or Diablo veterans at every opportunity. Also, most of the normal enemies have had quite an overhaul in terms of power and resistances. Imagine the first time you played Diablo, thinking you have the game figured out, then something comes charging towards you and slaughters you before you have a chance to react. Just consider yourself a “newbie” again, and you’ll do alright

What Doesn't Work
For all its good points, like everything in the world, SiC has it faults. Firstly is the usual problem that haunts many mods and that’s overcrowding. On several occasions you mind find yourself so overwhelmed by the amount of monsters around you that, after the tenth time of dying, you lose the will to live, punch a hole through the wall, and end up watching T.V. for several hours later to “calm down”. Also, the amount of unique monsters and Champion classes has been drastically increased. This is alright for higher level characters, but not so good for a new character, which you must start to play many mods.

Also, some of the new changes to the skill system will raise an eyebrow to some players. The Sorcerres class has here whole skill tree changed, and trying to understand the new magic spells in an frightening task, and until you’ve play through about three times, finding yourself as useful as a wet tea-bag against the horrors of Act 5, the Sorc isn’t as easy to play as before. Also, the inclusion of Aura based versions of the most used skills out of the Barbs warcries tree may avoid the use of mana, but the time limit is still there, meaning your health will suddenly drop down, before raising again. However, Whirlwind is one skill that cannot be useful on the left hand skill box. And seeing as though Whirlwind is the only skill that can get a Barb through Hell, it is another class that may become impossible to play later on in the game.

And, for all its worth, SiC is another one of those mods where total innovation of the game isn’t a strong point. Sure, the new monsters, weapons, and cube recipes add to the longevity of Diablo, you get a strong feeling of déjà vu whilst playing the game. SiC is still Diablo, be it packed to the brim with new features to keep you guessing and playing right through the end.

Conclusion
SiC feels a lot like an outstanding version of many of the ‘lesser mods’ out there. It expands on the ideas of not only Blizzard, but also of fellow mod makers, squeezing every little piece of quality and usefulness from them, throwing them in the mix, to produce a mod which is certainly a notable example of how it should be done. The new trinkets to try and test within the cube and in other scenarios are of the high quality expected out of a man who has been part of the Diablo modding community since bread was sliced.

However, for all its good features, SiC still presents the usual problem that a few mods possess, being the lack of any strikingly fierce originality, as mentioned above, taking the ideas of others and creating something new. Not that this is a bad thing, as Jeff has made these inclusions in Diablo his own. Still, the search for the truly original mod still continues, though SiC gets more than just a honorable mention. It receives a concrete headstone, standing tall amongst the other mods of the proverbial wilderness of the Diablo mod community.


Anyone wishing to check out the Sanctuary in Chaos mod can do so by visiting the official website at http://sic.d2mods.com.


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