Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two Worlds II - Quick and Dirty Hands-On Impressions  

Games: If you follow console games at all, it's pretty likely that you've heard of Two Worlds. Released in 2007 for PC/360, it was quickly greeted as a colossal failure and one of the poorest pieces of software to hit retail at that time. The reviews were absolutely scathing, and the title quickly became a running joke in the industry -- even a bit legendary, really.

Naturally, no one expected a sequel, however, a sequel there is. Even crazier, not only did the sequel actually get made, Two Worlds II is about fourteen bazillion times better than what they turned out the first time.

In fact, it's so much better it's not even comparable to the first game. Seriously, everything is massively, massively improved.

For realz, yo. And no, I'm not kidding.

So, here's the deal: SouthPeak sent along a copy of Two Worlds II on 360 and I've put about five or six hours into it so far. (By way of comparison, I put about fifteen minutes into the original before chucking it out the window.) I'm getting through it as fast as I can, but this is a big project. In the meantime, here's a quick and dirty breakdown for those who want to know:


> The simplest way to describe it is that it's a third-person open-world Western-style RPG. It's probably most analogous to Oblivion, although much more fast-paced, streamlined, and guided. To me, those are positive qualities that I appreciate. Does anybody really complain when a game includes a map marker indicating the location of your current goal? I know I don't.

You can also swim, but it's A LOT SLOWER.
> The world (the parts I've seen of it, anyway) seem to be pretty enormous. Thankfully, there are teleport pads sprinkled here and there to make quick-travel a viable option, but the square footage to be explored is quite impressive. After spending a couple hours in one area, I pulled the map back to see how big the total landmass was, and it was damned huge. I hadn’t even covered a majority of it.

> The main character can equip three completely different sets of equipment at the same time and cycle between them with a quick press of the D-pad. Whipping from robes and a mage staff to a bow and arrows to a broadsword and shield in the span of a second without stopping to go into an inventory screen is totally appreciated, and is a great way of keeping the real-time action moving.

There might be some good loot here...
> The crafting system reminds me a bit of a loot-whoring dungeon crawler crammed into a different kind of RPG world, but it totally works. Every piece of equipment dropped by enemies can either be used or broken down into component parts, so weaker dupes of stuff you already have can actually serve a purpose besides being sold for gold. Have four extra +1 swords? Break them all down into iron and steel, and use those materials to give another weapon a huge damage upgrade. It really gives a different spin to the item collection.

T3h z0mb13s!!!

> Apparently the magic system allows for a crazy variety of player-defined spells. I've seen a little bit of it so far, but I don't have enough of the components to actually see the full scope yet. At this point I can change the elements of my spells (ice/fire/water) and the nature of the spell (bolt/area blast) but not much else. Still, it's easy to see how flexible the system can be once I start collecting more goods.


That’s about it for now – I’m still really early in the game so I can't say much more than the quick observations above (estimated completion time without sidequests is around 20hrs, I’m told) but as someone who is a fan of this style of game, I definitely appreciate the tweaks and choices on display. It’s a little rough presentation-wise, but it’s all easily forgiven in light of the cool bits I’m seeing.

You can travel to that tower in the distance in real-time.
More impressions to come, but if you’re the kind of person who's interested in an open-world RPG but felt a little lost, bored, or overwhelmed with Oblivion, this one is definitely worth a look.

What next?

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