Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Worlds 2

A long jump forward, a few steps back...

The original Two Worlds was an RPG that actually had a decent amount of hype, but fell short on pretty much all of it. Yet I still played the ever-living hell out of it. Given all of its shortcomings, bugs, terrible voice acting, low framerate and overall clunky and mostly broken system, I loved playing it. It had a certain charm to it, and I really, REALLY like 3rd person, open-world RPGs. I think I'm one of the few people in the world that legitimately liked it.

Now take the original game, with all its failures, and improve almost damn near everything... almost. That's Two Worlds 2. Its name is a bit silly, but my, how it has grown. They learned their lesson and actually made the sequel into something really worth playing, if you like RPGs, that is. Do not make the mistake of calling yourself an RPG fan and then compare it to Elder Scrolls... it doesn't work like that. I hate that criticism, "oh it's no Oblivion, so therefore it sucks". They're on completely different ends of the RPG spectrum, with the only thing linking them is that they are fantasy games.

With that out of the way...
In Two Worlds 2, you are once again the main character from the original game, except the story or the landmarks in the original didn't matter. Your sister and you (the nameless hero) are imprisoned by the evil emperor Gandohar (funny names in this game). Apparently you've been in prison for somewhere around 5 years, so there's enough excuse to make you have to relearn all your combat skills over again. You get busted out by some friendly orcs and get sent on your epic quest to learn Gandohar's weaknesses and free your sister. It doesn't sound as epic to start off, but later in the game, things build up to where there's more than just the rescue of your sister at play.

Almost everything about it is better than the previous iteration. They actually throw in an existing story, hired some decent voice actors, and made things interesting. There's a decent tutorial right from the get-go this time around. The character models are kind of iffy-looking but the environments look absolutely awesome. A lot of the original game got a major overhaul as far as functionality and customization goes. You can still stack "cards" to increase your magic power, but it's even more customizable. Almost everything can be broken down into raw materials to upgrade weapons or armor with. That's one thing I loved about the original Two Worlds, that I'm glad they kept around... the sheer amount of customization and upgrades. This version of the game is much deeper - there's a lot more to do - it definitely feels like the kind of game you'll spend a ton of time on. There's even a good bit of humor in the game, often making pop-culture references or poking fun at how campy the original game was (see videos embedded at the end of this post).

As for your combat, you can deal in magic, melee or archery. I recommend choosing 2 of the 3 for at least a small portion of the game, so you can adequately defend yourself as a mage in close-quarters, for example, by also having some melee until you've improved your spellcasting. You'll want to choose what you focus in wisely for awhile until you start earning extra skill points as you level up. But beware... one thing that I found strange was that not all the skills you can master are actually useful. For example, I might have used alchemy once, but never found a reason to use it again. And I had no real reason to allocate precious points into stealth or armor-crafting. Just go with what works for you and don't venture too far from your set skills.

There's also a multiplayer, which I've honestly spent a decent amount of time on, where you can play a few matches against other players, build a village, or do a secondary campaign with friends. I like this option because instead of importing your solo character, you create a new online character that you can choose more focused and specialized stats in. It's fun to mess around with the different builds you can use and it's actually a good tool in learning what you might want to use in single-player as well. Village mode is like RPG meets RTS meets crack. I check on my village daily and make sure that I build a new building or save the villagers from spiders when needed.

Even though it's wayyyyy better than the original, and more than I could have hoped for, there's still some issues I have with it. For one, and this was something the original was criticized for as well... the horse-riding still sucks. Ok, well they improved on it, but it's still just useless. You're better off walking. The inventory is still clunky and the interface is see-through, so depending on where you are or what's in the background while you're browsing your latest loot, it can be kind of annoying. One thing I liked about the original that is pretty much non-existent in the 2nd game is dragons. NO DRAGONS?! WAAAAAAT?! I loved going dragon killing in Two Worlds and they took it out.

So that about sums it up... I might add to this already-too-long post if I think of anything extra to love on or bitch about. Overall, I love the hell out of Two Worlds 2 and I'm glad TopWare & Reality Pump have my money for it. Well worth it if you like RPGs. And now, for some humor...

(Making fun of the voice acting & general abuse of language in the original Two Worlds)

(A tribute to Monty Python...)