previews\ Jan 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Two Worlds 2


Standing in conversation with a young Orcish maiden, two things cross my mind. Firstly, I wonder if she needs the bathroom - she seems to be shuffling on the spot an awful lot. Secondly, I begin to wonder if every woman in Antaloor is tall, busty, slim, and issued with physics-defying cleavage-revealing clothes by default. I realize that she doesn't need the bathroom at all – her animations to give her some life during conversation have just been a little misjudged. The clothes, though. Well, most of the major female characters seem to have a maximum amount of fabric they're allowed to wear, doing nothing to break any of the stereotypes associated with fantasy, games or gamers.

Two Worlds was not the most well-received RPG ever released, but it was apparently successful enough to justify a sequel. Polish developer Reality Pump are once again behind the wheel, and this time their mission is no less than dethroning Oblivion as the benchmark for open world fantasy RPGs. From a third-person perspective, you'll explore the world, fight monsters, loot treasure and new weapons, learn magic and generally play the role of the hero (or villain).

The setup is typical RPG fare: you design your character (male only) then begin your quest in prison. Your sister, Kyra, is host to a particularly powerful demon, and Gandohar, dark lord of the realm, is using her to feed his own power. You are sprung from prison by a small group of Orcs, themselves on the edge of extinction, in order to investigate Gandohar's past in hopes of finding a weakness.

The game is an action-RPG rather than turn-based, meaning you'll square off in fight sequences in real time. Left mouse button attacks, right mouse button blocks. Special moves such as block-breakers and area-effect attacks can be assigned to hotkeys to add a bit of variety to proceedings. Alternatively, you can take up archery or magic, or any combination thereof. There is no class system in Two Worlds 2: the player has access to all skills (assuming you find the appropriate skill book first). This allows greater customization and creativity on behalf of the player.

There are several important pillars sustaining any RPG, and arguably the most important is the quests. Two Worlds 2 promises plenty of side-quests: everything from assisting a helpless NPC clear his basement of zombies to acting as a courier to transport an important head (yes, a head). Each town and city is home to plenty of NPC's, many of whom are in need of help. The map helpfully pinpoints anyone of interest, and the journal tracks your progress through any active quests. Since the game is non-linear, you have complete freedom in which order you tackle the quests.

The game is graphically superior to its predecessor, built as it is on new technology. Attractive models and textures sit comfortable with some stunning effects, though there are inevitably areas that can be improved: some models and textures are bland, while most animations are stiff or lack fluidity (or are over-animated, as is frequently the case in conversations).

Ultimately, Two Worlds 2 looks like a promising game. It's not perfect: translation issues, a boring protagonist and a steep learning curve are among its troubles. What it does promise, however, is a compelling story, freedom to explore an enormous fantasy world and many, many side-quests. Enough for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours worth of play. Is the game breaking new ground? Not really, but it employs its fantasy stereotypes with pride.

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