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Two Worlds II

20:4215/02/2011Posted by D+PAD StaffNo Comments

We think it’d be safe to say that the original Two Worlds didn’t go down too well in the general gaming consensus. So bland, turgid and definitively ‘mediocre’ that it was, you’d be unwilling to have put your money on Two Worlds II coming through release with a modicum of integrity intact. But it has, and proceeding into its depths, it’s difficult to imagine that the development team behind this – Reality Pump – were at the hands of the former. While it still lacks the polish, imagination and originality of more progressive RPG’s, it turns out that Two Worlds II is quite the game.

A flexible and robust combat system is what immediately gives Two Worlds II leverage over the first game, with a fairly complex attribution and upgrade setup that RPG enthusiasts will revel in. So while the initial stats allow any of the four skill-sets to be ramped up (Endurance, Willpower, Accuracy and Strength), you’ll also be given chance to attribute skill points into more selective disciplines; whether improving the number of arrows that can be fired with the bow, or implementing the effectiveness of fire attacks in your Mage properties, for example. The new overhaul in character customisation works, and players will be free to try out any number of possibilities in the various talents. Working with magic is easily the most complex of the bunch, with skill cards having to be combined with a certain type of magic in order to have the desired effect. The more traditional routes are much simpler, especially if you opt for the metallic sheen of the sword in favour of the embroidered bow; unfortunately however, the stunted animations and slow reaction times between a press of the button and seeing your desired action on screen not entirely compensated for by the hack-and-slash mechanics, where ‘Block’ and ‘Counter’ ought to be dumped altogether.

Despite this though, the flow through levels and smooth sense of progression is always spot on, and Reality Pump seem to have removed much of the frustration of ‘grinding’ that can often become so tiresome in RPGs. Here, you’ll only ever be a few quests away from another flare of glowing orbs irradiating from your character to signify another level-up, at which point a certain number of points are attributed to the four main bases, and skill points to the more defined groups. This helps to create a sense of achievement that far outweighs the slog through the sometimes repetitive quests, where too often, Reality Pump settle for some arduous ‘find’ or ‘fetch’ mission for some ungrateful fool. At least they’re kept short and sweet then, and the tongue-in-cheek humorous slant on proceedings also goes down well.

Thankfully, Two Worlds II doesn’t take itself all that seriously, as a number of example quests can attest; whether uncovering the truth behind a teacher using students at a university as escorts to relieve them of their debts, accidentally offing a quest-givers mum with a concocted potion, earning rule of a small village by riding in a sweeping horseback time-trial through the countryside, and best of them all: a parody of Indiana Jones, with the ‘Last Crusade’ swapping Indy for your reluctant hero as he treads a fine line to discover the ‘Holy Grail’. This could be seen as Reality Pump conceding that their game is unlikely to match the quality of others in the genre. If this is indeed the case, it’s actually quite a neat trick, giving Two Worlds II enough to differentiate itself from the likes of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to stand on its own two questing feet, despite borrowing heavily from Bethesda’s much loved title. The expansiveness and sheer opportunity that the world presents is undeniably in debt to Oblivion however, as are the opportunities to join specific guilds or defining your character. This doesn’t diminish the fact that the size of Two Worlds II world is certainly credible and is filled with an extortionate amount of characters and quests that could well see you sailing right by the 30-hour mark.

The inventory system also allows for a good amount of tinkering of with items and weapons, with each found and useless weapon available to either be sold or ‘dismantled’ for its core materials, which can then go towards upgrading your main weapons. Each item’s effectiveness is also clearly defined against your current equipment, removing much of the tiresome and over-compensating complexity that plague some more ‘mature’ RPGs. Where it does make up ground is how unique effects can be granted to weapons or items of clothing using certain runestones, meaning that an equipped weapon is almost certain to be individual to the player and vastly different from that which you pick up.

Taking place five years after the events of the first game, Two Worlds II opens with our hero shackled in Gandohar’s dungeon and the world on the edge of an evil reign. The story isn’t particularly successful, being fairly dry and touch bland. On top of this, while very deep in scope and breadth, the monotonous and frankly ridiculous excuse for voice ‘acting’ cannot carry the plot, which relies too heavily on the same good versus evil struggle against the all-powerful Gandohar. There are numerous twists and turns and some more interesting characters that fill the creative void, but in the end it all feels a bit pointless and typical run-of-the-mill fantasy fare. The way in which the third and fourth chapters almost fall by the wayside in length is perhaps evidence that Reality Pump have acknowledged concerns with what turns out a fairly repetitive slog to the finish, where the often lengthy exposition-saturated dialogue trees will be sure to test your patience.

Our complaints might well fall on deaf ears though, because whilst Two Worlds II is no technical masterpiece (with clipping issues, horrific drops in frame rate, draw distance, screen tearing), the role-playing it contains is certainly entertaining and thoroughly engaging. The adaptability of combat options and the richness of the world put to rest most of our ills with the game as a whole, as Two Worlds II unfurls itself as one RPG that is genuinely worth a look.

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