I never played the first Two Worlds game. I have, however, read the many reviews that were damning it to the depths of Hell and back again. So whilst installing Two Worlds II, from Reality Pump and SouthPeak Interactive, and reading the reviews of the last game, I did wonder what I was getting myself into. Thankfully, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the nice intro, the very reasonable graphics, the fantasy music and settings and the semi-nude ladies, whose tight fitting clothes clung to bodies that are honed to aerobic perfection. Enough to bring a smile to the face of any male gamer.
The story starts five years after the previous game. A huge battle had taken place and now a dark mage king has risen and is gaining in power. He has captured both you and your sister, who really shouldn’t be dressed like that as she’ll catch her death in that cold, evil castle. The dark mage king, who’s name is Gandohar, is draining a magical power from your sister and if he can’t be stopped then the whole world will burn in his power and your sister will be toast. Luckily for you, as you are being sent to the dungeons for a bit of the old rubber truncheon treatment, you are rescued by a militant band of Orcs who have joined up against the evil hand of Gandohar. They, together with your help in the shape of a convenient tutorial, manage to get out of the castle and back to their hideout. From there you meet their leader, the one who has brought the Orcs together, the legendary prophet Cassara: mysterious, magical, powerful and very scantily dressed. She informs you of the coming Armageddon via a kind of Vulcan mind meld, whilst you stand helplessly by, admiring her cleavage and the obvious effect the cold air is having on her. Then it’s off to the rescue via more tutorials and mini-missions to get you used to the fighting, spell casting, collecting and crafting.
TW2 has a few tricks up its closely fitting tunic. The combat system is based on an array of defensive and attack moves that are very artistic and flow quite nicely during a fight: right click to block, then follow through with some rapid, yet well timed, left clicks to slice the target into submission and follow one move onto the next in a kind of Danse Macabre. However, the AI is reasonably intelligent so it can compensate for the move, making a fight last more than the usual couple of grunts and a dead body routine. The effect is a well polished fight scene with variable attack tactics that would be at home in any Dino De Laurentiis movie.
The Magic system, called DEMONS, is similarly flexible. You can use a magic card system that can be combined from the five sources of mana, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Dark Magic to unleash a deadly barrage of magic onto your opponent. Although it was wonderful to look at casting spells and watching skeletal warriors burn to a cinder, the magic takes its toll on your mana bar, so you’ll be lucky if you can manage a few spells before it’s back to your trusty sword. Alchemy is also catered for. Using a mixing system called PAPAK, you can brew up unique potions from a huge variety of ingredients found in the game world. Plants, roots, minerals, bits of animal insides (uurgg) can all be mixed and matched to concoct a dish that would have Nigella Lawson smacking her lips together and inviting her friends round for a bite.
Finally we have the CRAFT system, that enables you to break up any items you find into their component parts and use these basic materials to upgrade any current weaponry, clothing, shields etc. If you manage to get your hands on any magical stones then you have the ability, providing you have levelled up enough, to combine the stones with your items to create more powerful versions, for either fighting with or selling for huge profit. If you can, then combine several magic stones together to form one extremely powerful stone that can be added to your favourite weapon for wonderful effects.
As you play through the game you will be given several quests and mini-quests to complete that will unlock different weapons, potions, items and provide you with the necessary experience points to allow you to level up. Once levelled up, you can then decided what skills to ‘spend’ your attribute points on, be that better sneaking, better crafting, magic, swordsmanship or basic attributes such as strength, endurance and magic. As with all good RPG’s, different items found in the game can only be wielded once you have the required level, so be prepared for some intensive levelling. The quests themselves are fairly easy to get through, find this, ask someone for help, do this, kill that, all standard stuff and what we’ve come to expect from the RPG/Oblivion’s of the world.
The enemies you come across range from ostriches on the savannah to giant ogre type things inhabiting dark smelly caves. Although all have their own amount of hit points, they all attack in a fairly standard way, in other words, they charge you down until either they die or you do. Your character, which you have to ability to customise at the beginning of the game, is pretty tough and capable of receiving a good few hits before he keels over. He can run, sprint, jump, sneak his way through the gloriously huge open gameworld of TW2, although I question his ability to out-run a cheetah.
The navigation of the world is via a map, on foot, on horseback or through an intricate teleport system with the use of a teleport stone. These teleports can move you from one end of the map to the next in a matter of seconds, to places like the Orc island, the middle of a town, or into someone’s chamber – the thought of someone transporting in when one is in the bath or on the loo is quite discomforting. The teleports are an absolute God send, as many of the quests will have you roaming around the world from one map point to the other for what seems like forever.
TW2 played quite well, the lip-sync to voice acting was out most of the time and some of the characters were pretty dire. The animations were a little stiff, while at times you felt like you were playing a stiff-legged scarecrow as opposed to a stealthy warrior, and the camera had the tendency of staying behind you even when you backed into a wall, something I haven’t seen quite that bad since Tomb Raider. The music and sound effects were scene-setting and quite good, they didn’t distract enough to be annoying and they changed during fight scenes and when exploring new creepy areas.
My only worry was the multiplayer. Yes you can go online and deathmatch it out, or play with others in a multiplayer quest. But, I managed to make this work once, then the game kept asking for a new patch, despite the fact I had already applied the new patch. I un-installed, re-installed, threatened and swore at it, but I eventually got back online again and was completely overwhelmed by the fact that I could choose a dual wield character. I had a good few hours’ worth of fun online and it played without too much lag despite the big game world. But if everyone has to do that, then gamers will soon leave in a hurry. If it works okay for you then great because it was well worth it.
To finish off, TW2 was okay. It was good fun, it had its problems, but as a fan of the likes of Oblivion I enjoyed it. I’d say, try it out as an interim between Skyrim and Witcher 2. The multiplayer eventually worked well and was great fun. I didn’t have a problem with TW2, it won’t go down in history as the greatest RPG ever, but it was a good play all the same.
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