Two Worlds II

8.0 Overall Score

Written by on February 28, 2011 in


The Polish developer Reality Pump had a heavy burden in their quest to right the perceived wrongs of their first Two Worlds adventure.  Woe to the team who could not bring upon the lands a game worthy of a very unforgiving RPG universe.   How dare they present a game with endless variety and no true class system.  Do they not know how important the role as pure mage, an unadulterated melee, or the pristine archer must always be defined in absolutes.  It served them right that the game was cursed to roam the deserted lands alone.  Gamers grew weary of their attacks on beasties going for naught and boss battles that proved less than heroic in scale.  The first game, released in 2007, seemed plagued by their far-reaching ambitions falling far short of the would-be heroes’ expectations.  Yes, there are many games that seem forever entrenched in this same tragic cycle, Fable is the most obvious and well known.  The developers suffered the slings and arrows with no hope of outrageous fortune on their first adventure.  Will all of their sins be remembered in the latest installment or will they be reborn into true RPG greatness?  The answer to this query, in my humble opinion, lies somewhere in between.

I have enjoyed many games of this genre and have to admit that it is easy to find fault in most of them.  Two Worlds II is a HUGE open world RPG with a hearty main quest story line and an extensive amount of side quests that can be completed along with the main quests or long after the player has finished the main story.   This is exactly the type of flexibility that I truly enjoy in games like the Elder Scrolls series and Fable.  If I find myself unable to best a particular main quest beastie I can venture forth into the world and find glory and fame in various lands and with various guilds.  Thus, after earning the proper experience, I can charge back into the main story without fear (or less fear).  On the other side of the coin, if I find myself engrossed in the main story and want to focus solely on it the game allows this, leaving the side quests to another day.  What is the main quest I speak of?  Why, sit yourself down and I will share the tale.

The single player saga takes up where the last game left off.  After 5 years imprisoned along with his sister in the dungeons of the mysterious villain Gandohar’s castle, our hero is exhausted and unable to save himself or his twin sister Kyra from enduring excruciating the barrage of magic from the self-proclaimed emperor Gandohar.  Our hero is rescued by a group of orcs.  The motives of this once hated group are questionable but he can’t refuse their aid.  Once freed, he is taken to the orc’s refuge in Antaloor to make plans to rescue his sister while ensuring the downfall of Gandohar.  The orcs are lead by an equally mysterious female known as the Prophet Cassara.  She instructs our hero to find out about Gandohar’s past to find any weakness that they can use to destroy him.  And so our brave hero embarks on his journey to find the answer he seeks.  It is a journey fraught with danger and just a touch of frustration.

This game dares to take on so many of the challenges much larger companies fear to touch.  They developed their own graphics engine from the ground up, they offer an extremely large open world with a variety of ways to traverse the world, offer almost endless customization of the character, an endless opportunity to craft custom spells and gear.  Do they do all of this flawlessly?  No.  This game is glitchy.  I had many a moment where I would madly tap on the right bumper to drink a health potion only to see my hero die a painful death.  I got stuck in the corpses of fallen beasties and had to blast it until it let me go on.  I got a bit tired of the townsfolk calling my heroic lady a man in multiplayer mode.  I mean I know the armor may have hidden a few of my curves but, really, I just saved your town from certain annihilation.  I look at this list and wonder why… why am I so addicted to this crazy game?  It is a game that has sucked me in and made me love it.  The ridiculous amount of variety in gameplay in single player and multiplayer modes alone keeps me intrigued.  The classic save style in single player mode that allows me to save anywhere I want and go back to any load game later.  I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about this feature.  With so many decisions to be made and fights to be won this feature is a true blessing.  Another feature that will please some is that opportunity to re-spec.  Have you gotten to a point in the game where you realize you put way too many points into strength and really want to change to a mage class?  Go to the local “Soulpatcher” and pay a reasonable fee to completely change your skill points distribution.    Now let me give some details about gameplay for the single player mode.

As I stated before this game takes place in a very large open world.  Running everywhere will get old very quickly.  The game offers several travel options to make travel a bit easier or at least offer a little variety.  Option one is the ever popular teleport portals.  There are several placed permanently throughout the world that, once discovered, can be accessed by using a portable “Thearch Teleport” mechanism that is stored in your inventory.  There are also personal portal devices that can be dropped by the player at most locations with a “clear line of sight with the sky”.  In other words you can’t use them in dungeons or underground.  The player also has several opportunities at riding a horse.  Once unlocked by a quest the player can ride horses that they may find at certain locations throughout the world.  The riding consists of using a trigger button to kick the horse at increments to get him to giddyup.  This can take a little practice but it really made me feel like I was actively riding the horse and not just steering a horse-car around the map.  In the second chapter of the story the player can sail a boat across the sea.  This is again an active mode of transport and requires the player to position the sail and steer the boat with the rudder to propel the boat in the right direction.  There is even a way to ‘travel’ where the player doesn’t even move his character.  The player will loot something called an Oculus.  There are many varieties of what is basically the creature’s eye that can float through the air undetected and either scout out a location or provide ranged damage to enemies.  Some of these floating eyes are good only for destruction and appear very blurry, some can only go a short range, some are only good for one use while others can be used an unlimited number of times. This can allow the player a fairly limitless ability to explore without the constraints of climbing over obstacles.

Along the journey our hero will face all kinds of creatures and has a variety of ways to deal with them.  There is no pre-determined class in the game.  Each player can spend the skill points they earn by using skills and abilities as well as those earned at each new level to create any type of hero they want.  Each hero can have magical skills, melee skills and archer/ranged skills.  The player can also set up to three pre-set weapon and armor sets.  The player can switch to each set using the directional pad.  This way you can almost instantly switch from mage gear to melee gear by pressing left, right, or up on the d-pad.  I personally liked starting a battle using an archer equipment set-up then switching to the melee as the creatures got closer.  The game really shines when it comes to the easy crafting systems for gear, potions, and spells.  They are proprietary systems that allow the player an amazing and almost infinite amount of customization.  Nothing in this game needs to go to waste.  I really love the way you can use all the crap gear you loot in the game to upgrade your weapons and armor.

The Complete Reshaping And Forging Technology (CRAFT) system is very simple.  You can either disassemble weapons and armor to the elemental parts (like steel, leather, cloth) or use element parts and gems to upgrade the gear and add to stats.  The Portable Alchemy and Potions Assembly Kit (PAPAK) allows endless trial and error to creat unique potions that can do a lot of good during the player’s quest.  Players are recommended to pick samples of some plants during their travels and combine them with items looted from creatures to create potions to do such things as walk on water or the ever-popular health and mana potions.  Different combinations may increase the potion’s strength, duration, or other characteristics.  If the player finds a potion they like they can save the recipe.  Each item that can be used in potions have their potion attribute written in their description.  After picking a plant look at the description and you may find that the plant has healing properties or allows you to walk on water.  Other items may add potion duration time or potion strength.  The recipe can then be used to automatically combine the correct items in inventory to make the potion.  The spell crafting is ridiculously customizable.  If you don’t believe me take a look at one of the many videos on youtube showcasing some of the more fun spells people have created.  Be warned the music in the video may not be everyone’s taste but it really shows what you can do.

The Dynamic Enchantment Magic Occultism and Necromancy System (DEMONS) allows you to combine spell carrier cards that determine how the spell travels, with effect cards that determine which elemental magic is used (necromancy, earth, water, air, and/or fire), and modifier cards add elements such as spell duration and strength.  Trial and error will be rewarded with spells that conjurer spinning walls of anvils, or summoning armies of minions, or allow you to jump higher than you ever thought possible as well as the more mundane healing and damage spells.  Players are encouraged to create truly unique and flamboyant spells.  While all of these systems allow an amazing amount of freedom to create they also may require a bit of time to figure out.  They are very extensive and are not spelled out.  This is not for the gamer that expects to have their hand held.  There may even be some research involved.  Luckily there are already several sites online that have many of the more fun recipes spelled out for those less patient folks.

Fighting styles can be any combination of melee, magic, and/or ranged.  I did have frustration in the early chapter with melee and I think many will give up on that fighting style first.  I, however am a stubborn melee player and pushed through the frustration to find the skill.  This is not pure hack and slash.  There is a certain amount of strategy involved in pulling only as many creatures as you can fight and using block and counterattacks to fight off the tougher beasties.  If health gets low sometimes the best strategy is to run away and holster your weapon so that your health can regenerate.  There are certain moves available while blocking and others available when you leave yourself open.  When all else fails than there is always the right bumper to pound another health potion.  The ranged combat allows the player to use ranged weapons that consist mainly of bows to weaken or kill beast before they get close enough to hit.  There are skills you can earn to shoot more than one arrow and another to go into a sort of sniper mode and place targets on different enemies or several onto one enemy, other ranged skills allow you to shoot arrows with certain properties (fire, poison, or distraction).  The mages can add their spells to the mix and can fight at a distance to mid range as well as offer healing to team members in multiplayer mode.  Each mode allows the player to assign either potions, items, or skills (combat moves or spells) to the left or right bumper and the ‘X’, ‘Y’, or ‘B’ buttons.

The multiplayer portion of the game is completely separate from the character you play in single player mode.  The good news to this is that I could play a female character.  I was also able to choose from several races including human, elf and orc.  There are several modes that provide fun for everyone.  I am partial to cooperative play so I spent most of my time playing Adventure mode.  Here the player can play seven chapters that take a team of eight players through a quest.  Difficulty is scaled to the levels of the players on the team.  I found myself a couple of times on teams with players many levels above me and had to try and survive enemies many level above me.  The good news was these teams allowed my low level character to fly through several levels.  This was a kindness I returned to others in other match-ups.  Any fear that I was the only one enjoying this game was quickly dissolved when I found many players over level 100, an incredible feat once you realize this game has only been out less than a month.  Another intriguing fact I learned online was that people seem to drift toward the mage class, at least in online play.  I can understand the attraction given the spell crafting.  Online gives folks the perfect venue to show off their latest spell creations.  One unfortunate thing for adventure mode is that you can’t keep the same team together and move as a unit to the next level.  You have to quit out of the chapter than manage to re-group from scratch.    Pick up groups are very hit or miss.  Sign on for one adventure chapter and get somehow transported to another on the whim of the chapter’s host.

Once you earn 10,000 auras (the game’s currency) you can purchase your own village.  This mode is for those looking to show their land planning and commerce skills.  There are many building sites available and the player can use money earned in multiplayer mode to build shops, guardposts, farms, ranches, taverns, windmills, a temple, and mines.  This requires some planning to make a village that makes money and keeps the villagers happy.  You will need to visit the village every so often to take care of its needs and rid the villagers of ‘pests’.  You can also let others visit your village to see your creation.  There are other modes that more closely reflect the typical console multiplayer fare.  Duel is a one-on-one arena battle, Deathmatch is a team vs. team battle, and the Crystal Capture mode that challenges teams to gather the most azure crystals.  In Crystal Capture the players must avoid fiery skulls that destroy nearby crystals and green crystals that turn all azure crystals to skulls and all skulls to azure crystals.

I want to speak a little about the game’s graphic engine.  The GRACETM engine creates a truly amazing landscape to travel.  The light quality is beautiful and the ability to use the oculus to it’s fullest extent is a result of the blood, sweat and tears that poured into this engine.  I have to admit that there were a few times in the savannah desert I found myself blinded by the sun which, I guess is appropriate if mildly difficult to look at.  The player is able to move the camera angles as they travel and as they battle.  The game’s camera even attempts to find a viewable angle in some of the tightest spots in the game.  I was never blocked from seeing my character for long.  I was very impressed by that.  At times they cut away a portion of their environment to allow the player to view the action.  This may be slightly strange to see but useful.  This graphics engine produces a variety of environments ranging from desert, to lush forest, to an Asian influenced city, to deep dark caves and dungeons.

As I stated before this game is for the patient and those used to games like the Elder Scrolls series.  The first chapter will be a true test of your fortitude requiring a lot of experimentation and a good amount of learning the strategy of the game.  Players will need to use a lot of trial and error to figure out the fighting system and the spell, potion and equipment crafting.  This is probably why the PC game is usually received better.  PC gamers are typically willing to do some heavy lifting to get the most out of their game.  I felt like the game created several controls that allowed the console gamer to easily switch between equipment sets, and use skills efficiently.  This game has bridged the gap between the PC and console RPG gameplay using simple shortcut buttons.  For the more intricate details of the game, there are some wonderful souls out there that have already created web site guides, atlas’ and forums to help those less patient but don’t expect things to be handed to you.  Players can’t just follow the yellow lit road ala Fable to get to their next destination.  Locations are marked on the map but that may not be all the information you need.  There are glitches, many glitches so those expecting perfection should steer clear.  But they may also want to steer clear of many open world games (see Oblivion, Fallout New Vegas, and Fable).  Innovation often comes at a cost.  That is a cost that many are unwilling to tolerate.  Those that do accept this trade I feel will be greatly rewarded for their efforts.

This is a VERY addictive game.  I would set out to play just an hour or so and realize later that many hours had passed.  With a schedule as busy as mine this is not the norm.  I could name so many things I found frustrating about this gameplay but the good far outweighs the bad and recommend this to anyone who desires finding their own part in the saga that is Two Worlds II.

 

A copy of Two Worlds II was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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