Two Worlds II Review :
Two Worlds II - A sequel with real potential!
I'll be honest: I never played the first Two Worlds when I started this game. But since I'm being honest I DID read about it, and from every source I turned to I saw nothing but endless criticism for Two Worlds.
You may have too, and so its understandable to be a little... hesitant when it comes to Two Worlds II. Well, that's why I'm here, to give you an overview about what you can expect from Two Worlds II? Does it follow in its predecessors' footsteps, or does it blaze its own path?
You'll begin the game in captivity, held under the iron hand of Gandahar with your sister. Remember that this is a sequel, and they expect you to know the story from the first game (I recommend at least reading it before playing Two Worlds II). Anyway, your sister is harboring the god Aziraal (one of the older gods) INSIDE of her, and Gandahar is of course determined to use this awesome power for himself, as any power-hungry tyrant would do! After the opening scenes, you'll be back on your way to your cell when a group of orcs will kill the guards. After a run-in with Gandahar's second in command and some questionable teleporter use, you'll be free. But what do these orcs want with you?
Well, as it turns out they have a prophet who requested to see you. It also turns out that Gandahar's rule hasn't sat well with everyone in Antaloor, meaning that you'll find allies if you look hard enough.
Overall, there is a LOT of story in Two Worlds II, as rescuing your sister (your obvious goal) and challenging Gandahar will take quite a bit of work on your part (this is a BIG game, trust me). As you prepare yourself and discover allies, you'll travel to many different towns and meet many different types of people, many of whom will offer you quests of their own (in true fantasy RPG style). There's a lot here you'll have seen before if you've played fantasy games before, but the game IS very cleverly written and many of the quest chains are well thought and and interesting. The main character also often responds very cleverly as well. You'll also enjoy the dozens of books and documents scattered throughout the game, as well as the easy to use quest tracker. Needless to say, those not looking for a story should not apply.
Being a fantasy RPG, you'll first build your character (and yes, you're able to adjust your character in literally dozens of ways). The game will then do a good job showing you what paths you can take regarding combat, as you are basically given the options of being a warrior, a ranger, or a wizard. There's also some thief options thrown in (along with sneak assassination kills), but for the most part those are your three options. As you kill things and level up, you'll be able to put stat points into endurance (health), melee, ranged, or magic. You'll also be given skill points with which to level up your skills. To equip and use many weapons, you'll have to raise your stat points up to a certain level (for example, to equip that katana that you want to use, you'll need 33 Strength/Melee). I found the level up system and item restrictions to be fair and a good way of making sure you don't become "god" too fast!
Combat itself is less appealing. While you can attack and defend, and use skills from a defensive or aggressive stance, it often just boils down to button mashing. The skills help break up the monotony (although you'll have to learn many of them from skill books as you play), but that's just the warrior path. The ranger has its own unique skill set, including multiple arrows! The wizard path sports multiple branches of magic (fire, water, air, earth, and necromancy to name a few). You'll also have to build your own spells by combing cards into a locket. You only start off with a few, but if you follow the wizarding ways you'll soon amass a very respectable variety of cards, which is important because you can mix and match these cards in all sorts of ways to build your own unique spells. There are also crafting and alchemy systems in place as well along with dozens of items to obtain that allow you to upgrade your own weapons and armor and make your own potions, respectively.
Not all is as rosy as it sounds though. While the hundreds of items and many interactive systems are a plus, the game does suffer from a bit of lag, which is especially noticed after entering a new area. Using the camera also seems to be a challenge (Pro Tip: I recommend setting the camera sensitivity down), as turning often introduces blur effects. Running also looks quite funny (a friend told me it looked like my character was drunk). In short, the game could have used a bit more polish before being released, but with that said I am still having a BLAST playing it. The issue the game does have are easily overlooked as you build your character and delve into one of the games dozens of quests.
The graphics in the game are nothing short of visually amazing. You'll be treated to quite a few panoramic scenes that will literally stop you in your tracks and make you take notice. The game goes from night to day as you play (providing some great moonlit scenes), but they give you a torch which helps out in these times and adds to the immersion. You'll also love the background and town designs, as they include a TON of detail and variety (I personally like the New Ashos design). As you progress deeper and deeper into the game, you'll also open up a wide array of weapons and armor to use (many of which get more detailed as you level up). In fact, the only glaring flaw to the graphics is the blurring and running visuals I touched on early. There's also a bit of pop-in graphics problems(graphics appearing out of nowhere), but that usually only accompanies loading.
The audio in the game is quite good. There are quite a few tracks that pick up your ears and help drive the action forward. A lot of the tracks are layered melodies with string and wind pieces. The theme song is quite good as well, but the thing that really was unique about the game was the fact that you could actually BUY instruments (guitars, harps, lutes, flutes) and sheet music and then play them for money. Heck you can even get together with other players in the game's multiplayer to jam together in this guitar hero inspired mini game. The voice acting was pretty good as well, as I didn't find anyone's voices annoying (and there are a LOT of voices in this game). The main character might come off as a little hoarse, but I think it adds character.
As I let slip up above, the game also comes packed with multiplayer, where you can create a few more characters to take online and party with your friends. There's quite a few things to do online, including a whole new adventure line as well as death matches and a mode where you can buy and set up your own village. Combined with how utterly HUGE the main games campaign is and the immense amount of different ways to build and play your character, you'll definitely get your moneys worth out of this title.
If the tales of how bad the original Two Worlds game was are true, I think developer Reality Pump is making MAJOR strides forward and can't wait to see what they do next. For you fantasy nuts, Two Worlds II is the PERFECT game to pick up while waiting on Skyrim. Thanks go to SouthPeak games for giving me the chance to find out all this info firsthand. Have fun and keep playing!
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