Two Worlds II Review [Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

jmaltz@pnosker.com February 6, 2011 0

When it comes to the original Two Worlds people are generally in one of two camps: people who never played itbecause they heard about how bad it was and people who played it told their friends how bad it was.  With that in mind, it’s a little bit surprising that Reality Pump and SouthPeak have gotten together to create a sequel.  Nonetheless, the companies have done just that.  The result defies all expectations and turns a once maligned franchise into a game which is well worth your time and money.

 


Right from the menu screen, it becomes obvious that Reality pump has stepped up their game tremendously for this sequel. Where the first game looked like it could have been running on an N64, Two Worlds II looks like a next-gen game; draw distances are vast, textures are detailed, and the environments show a variety that transcends your typical fantasy tropes.
Improvements alone do not make a graphical masterpiece though, and Two Worlds II still sports numerous visual issues. public enemy number one is the camera and its overuse of motion blur, resulting in a dizzying feeling whenever you quickly turn.  When complimented by the numerous bugs and stuttering framerate, there are more than enough moments which pull you out of the world of Antaloor.

In spite of these issues, Two Worlds II still has plenty to offer gamers. Just from a sheer size perspective the five landmasses of Reality Pump’s game give you plenty of ground to traverse by foot, horse or teleport.  More importantly, the world is literally stuffed to the brim with things for you to do.  Challenges like horse racing are present to compliment the usual assortment of guilds, city dwellers, and main story members who are around to give you quests  When taken together with a deep alchemy system and plenty of dungeons to explore, Reality Pump has put plenty of meat on Two Worlds II's bones.

All that's great, but tons of games give you pretty graphics and a vast world to play around in, what makes this one special? Well, I’m glad you asked.  Quite simply, Reality Pump gives you unheard of customization across many parts of the game.  This starts with character creation, where you can change over 25 physical features on your in game avatar.  Not since EA Sports’ Gameface have I seen something give you such control over your personal appearance.  

One thing that you won't be asked to decide right away is your class, and for very good reason: Two Worlds II has no classes.  Instead, it presents you with four attributes and over 30 skills that can be leveled as you see fit.  Always play super burly melee characters?  That can be done. Not a fan of physical combat and want to be an archer/mage combo? Runaway to your heart’s desire.  Want to make a thief who uses only fire and ice magic in all parts of combat?  Check.  You can even bind armor sets to the d-pad and hotswap between them as you see fit.  By allowing you to change between your mage gear and warrior armor at a moments notice the game makes it incredibly easy to be a jack of all trades or just a master of one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxDBQkry9VI

Although the only limit placed on character design is your imagination, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't play as a mage and experience the superb spellcrafting system.  Much like the first game, you aren’t be given specific spells to learn; you will build your own spells instead.  Throughout the game everything from dead enemies to honest shopkeepers will give you spell cards which, once added to an amulet, can do everything from summon an undead army to fire a simple ice bolt.  Between the numerous different elemental cards, modifier cards, and the ability to put up to three sets of spell cards on one amulet, the amount of freedom given to mages is simply unmatched by anything else on the market.

Continuing the trend of massive improvements over the original, Two Worlds II deepens the crafting system has been deepened significantly.  No longer do two items simply magically stack on top of each other and create a powerful item. Instead, they can be broken down into their component parts and in turn upgrade other items.  The crafting system not only minimizes the need to continually buy new weapons and re-bind your armor but also it helps thin out your overly cluttered inventory.

Although Two Worlds II is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, it’s still woefully lacking in others.  The dialog in particular is still awful while voiceovers still range from god awful to laughably bad.  The writing certainly doesn’t do you any favors and is about as deep as an above ground pool; just press all the face buttons and you've seen everything there is to see with that character.
 

While the dialog is bad, it can be overlooked as nonessential.  What can’t be overlooked is the horrendous melee combat.  The theory of combining proper timing with well used skills is sound , but it is betrayed by a terribly unresponsive blocking mechanic. Time and time again you'll attempt to bring up your shield only to have the broadside of a sword connect with your head as our hero stands motionless.   The inability to effectively block causes melee combat to degenerate into a snoozefest of trigger pulls and running in circles.

The saddest part of Reality Pump's effort is the attempted inclusion of multiplayer.  Online play comes in a couple of forms: deathmatch and mission-based.  Unfortunately, your character doesn't carry over from the main campaign, resulting in some seriously unfun level disparity.  It's respectable that the developers tried to do something different, but the execution simply isn't present in this case.

So, now we arrive at the big question, is Two Worlds II worth your time?  The answer is, unequivocally, yes.  Sure, it's a game with plenty of flaws, any of which could cause you to not buy the game.  However, once you sit down and step into Antaloor, you'll discover that Reality Pump has crafted a game which rises above all of its technical and design problems to become an immersive and gripping on par with all but the best games on the market.  So, unless you are a stickler for perfection or hate RPGs head on out to your local games emporium and pick up Two Worlds II, just be ready to merrily say goodbye to 40 hours of your time.
 

[Two Worlds II]-$49.92(PC), $52.50 (Xbox 360), $48.99(PS3)

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