- Posts: 6,147
by: Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Released: Out Now! (Amazon/Topware Exclusive), Also on: PlayStation 3, PC
Following on from First Impressions, here's the final totally unbiased I don't give any favouritism to RPGs at all verdict:
I'm a sucker for exploring. Secret chests in sun-dappled glades, mysterious encampments scattered around a dusty savannah, ancient stone ruins, abandoned underground caves, maze-like vaults, all packed to the brim with level dependant loot. Which is why I loved Oblivion, Fallout 3, Sacred 2, Divinity 2 et al. I also love building my own characters, tweaking stats, customising gear, building factions, questing, decision-making, puzzles, lockpicking, experimenting, basically everything the RPG genre offers.
Sun Dapple: Told Ya
Why I love Two Worlds 2 so much is inexplicable because it has a je ne sais quoi that others don't and I can't for the life of me work out what it is. The closest I can get is that it has all these independent gameplay systems that work together beautifully - a bit like Materia, or Sphere Grids, or Dress Spheres, or Crystariums from Final Fantasy - which enhance the way you play just by adjusting a few numbers here and there. And whacky humour. It just works.
The original Two Worlds had all this, minus most of the humour, which is why some gamers threw themselves into it wholeheartedly despite the medieval voice scripting, the game-breaking bugs, the slowdown, the intermittent loading, basically every immersion-killer out there couldn't put them off completing the game. The good news this time around is that, thanks to a nifty new game engine called Grace, Two Worlds 2 does away with most of the immersion-breakers.
It continues your story of the Hero who last time around defeated the bad guys, rescued his sister, then left you wondering if everything was a dream or not. This time around Lord Gandohar, your nemesis, holds you and your sister prisoner and plans to use your sister in his scheme to conquer all of Antaloor. But just before he can put his wicked plan into motion a brave band of Orcs break into Gandohar's castle to set you free, which starts a decent tutorial section where you follow an impatient Orc Assassin named Dar Pha as she leads you through twisty passages towards a long-forgotten teleport that will get you all out of there.
It's at this point that you begin to discover possibilities, like when Dar Pha heads right, you can go left and discover a chest to loot. She teaches you to lockpick, how to fight, the very basics you need to explore and survive. She explains why the Orcs are getting you out and why they're not your most hated enemy anymore.
After you escape, more tutorials on the finer points of combat, the quest system, the targeting system for bows, sneaking, a smattering of magic,
assassinating; at the end of all this you've got a small inkling of how you might develop your character for the main quest ahead. You'll also have probably seen some familiar quest logs, faction systems, conversation tree systems - Two Worlds 2 does seem to rip a few neat ideas here and there - later on if you explore you'll see a bit of Guitar Hero, Leslie Neilson, Monty Python, and a wonderful tribute to Indiana Jones. At the same time the game acknowledges the absurdity of it all, at one point even the Hero says "Dear God, I hope this doesn't mean a lawsuit!" whilst trying to get past the Black Knight on a certain side quest. Yet Two Worlds 2 has a few tricks of its own up its sleeve that make it stand out, some might say stand above, the rest.
"You Shall Not Pass!"
How could they improve on weapon stacking? I thought that was a great idea from the first game but they've gone one better. To improve weapons and armour you break down old items into their components, then use those components to enhance whatever new item you wish, so no more running about looking for just Steel Katanas or just Necromancer Robes, almost anything will do.
There's a Fusion skill that lets you 'stack' gems, which add modifiers like Strength, Endurance, Willpower, Accuracy (your 4 main attributes) onto weapons, armour and jewellery. Some loot can drop with these gems ready-fitted, and you can remove the gems to upgrade them or sell the loot for a handsome profit.
There are also gems that enhance your myriad of specialist skills like Radial Barrage for Polearm users or Fire Mastery if you've opted to build a pyromaniac Mage.
When it comes to character building, Two Worlds 2 doesn't hold your hand, it lets you build whatever you wish whether it be a stealthy Assassin, a duel-wield Warrior, sword and shield Paladin with ice magic as a side line, an axe-wielding psycho Air specialist - you've got the freedom to build however you see fit and if it works, great. If it doesn't, you're going to get mashed up the first time you meet a Giant Ant. If you've really gone wrong you're going to get pelted to death by baboon excrement, and the result either way is Game Over, you did remember to save, didn't you? Fortunately there are Soulpatcher NPCs in the game that will allow you to redistribute your points amongst your main attributes and skills at any time, so you can go back and one-shot that Necris that chewed your leg off earlier.
Another of Two World 2's great improvements is user-friendliness. The settings allow you to set how often the game Auto Saves - anything from every 5 minutes to never - and you can manually save anywhere you wish. Then there's a graphics overhaul, no more of those intermittent 'loading' icons on the screen as you traverse the huge open world (just the occasional split-second one every 4-5 minutes). And some creatures now respawn, which to a lot of RPG fans means that there's a glorious neverending grind to be had here.
Finally the greatest improvement of all: self-acknowledgement. There's a tavern in Cheznaddar that contains an NPC full of forsooth, verily, mayhap and perchance who gets short shrift from the hero, a little nod to one of the main criticisms of the first game's voice acting. Two World 2's wonderfully crafted script is full of little asides that fans of the original game will love, it's also full of effing and blinding which probably goes some away, along with exposed buttocks, bone-crunching sound effects and copious splashes of blood during combat, towards the game's PEGI 16 rating.
On me 'ead son...
To squeeze everything there is to do in the offline mode is easily going to take over 100 hours just in one playthrough, but if you're in a hurry you could probably just follow the main quest towards its (rather good) ending in around 15-25 hours. Replayability is also offered by the multiple choices you can make during main and side-quests which have an impact on future outcomes. Want to find out what happens if you help a clearly power-hungry bitch take over a nearby village rather than just cutting her down on the spot and staying out of politics? Replay it, and there are lots of different outcomes for the hundreds of quests stashed away to find in the world of Antaloor.
Rather aptly for a game entitled Two Worlds 2 there's another world to explore as well, that of the online variety. Totally separate to the main game, and requiring you to build another character from scratch - male or female and not necessarily human, you're not constrained here unlike the offline storyline - the online mode offers a completely new, albeit less open world, Adventure Mode which you can attempt solo or with up to 7 other players. Linked to this is Village Mode where your online character can build a village, protect it via randomly generated kill quests, use it to generate weapons for Warriors, bows for Rangers, crystals for Fusion, herbs for Alchemy or just plain old Auras (ingame currency) which your character can then take back with them to Adventure Mode. You can also 'skill-up' here. There are hidden chests scattered around the landscape to build on your lockpicking tally and monsters to fight for experience points.
You could in fact level up as much as you wish just in Village Mode rather than Adventure Mode. Other players can visit your village and buy items they need from your shops, which boosts your own income considerably. Also on offer are standard 8-player Death Matches, 2-player duels, and 'Crystal Capture', aka capture the flag. Annoyingly, there are some console-based online achievements/trophies linked to these, so good luck winning those 5 Deathmatches without a little 'co-operative' help.
"Can I Haz Respawn?"
If there is a downside at all it also concerns the longevity. Bit like my reviews. After 2 campaigns and 2 online characters were fully created, explored, tweaked and expended I was left wondering where all the level 50+ armour was, and by all accounts there isn't any, that's it, just an endless grind ever onwards to higher levels and more skillpoints using the same old equipment.
Overall it's about combat, storyline, looting, questing and exploration for most RPG players, and Two Worlds 2 does them all really well. Using your skills in the correct sequence can cause massive damage and one-hit kills when you get it right, whilst the final boss-fight can be a little surprising there is good closure that makes you wonder where the series goes next, lockpicking, theft, busking and dice games are just a few of many ways to add something extra to your backpack, and I can't think of any other RPG that allows you to buy your own sailing boat which you can use at endgame to explore all those other places you didn't cover during the main quest or side quests. Antaloor's landmass is big enough, now Two Worlds 2 lets you explore by sea as well.
+ Great script
+ Lots of loot
+ Two Worlds lore has huge depth
- Lots of modders online (360 version)