Wot I Semi-Think: Two Worlds II

By Alec Meer on January 27th, 2011 at 7:50 pm.

Reality Pump’s RPG sequel arrived in mainland Europe back in November, but won’t reach the US and UK until next week. Publisher Topware Interactive seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth this week and haven’t replied to requests for review code, but as the European edition also includes the English version I imported a copy of that, applied the three patches since launch and got cracking. As far as I can ascertain there are zero differences between the two versions, but apologies in advance if there proves to be some major change.

I’ll be reviewing it – if you want to call it that – in stages. This’ll be the first one of those, then.

Thought about doing a semi in-character diary, but I really want to get my head properly around this curious beast rather than risk simply lampooning it. Right now, I’m in Chapter One of the game, which follows a lengthy prologue/tutorial that I’ll concentrate on in this first chunk. Why I’m still fairly confused about what to say is that the Prologue and Chapter One are in quite profoundly difference. I don’t really know what game I’m playing yet. I’m exceedingly curious to find out.

I’m not sure what I expected. Two Worlds the first was a terrible, terrible game that I couldn’t help but love. Openly ludicrous, completely incoherent and all kinds of broken yet pulsing with passion and ambition. It wanted so much to be epic and free and clever that I couldn’t be cross with it for being cramped and fiddly and moronic. It was so innocent about it.

So I carried that in my head when I stepped into the sequel, but I also carried shy hope: a game from outside the system, which like Risen or The Witcher had the earnestness and recklessness to risk doing things that a Bethesda or Bioware game probably wouldn’t.

Plus it’s an RPG. That’s always going to be a bit of an event.

The game starts, as an ancient law written by an idiot states all contemporary RPGs must, in a series of rocky tunnels. A prison, specifically, but that’s just an excuse for rocky tunnels. The plot continues on from whatever the hell happened in TW1, with you playing the brother of a girl possessed by some spooky evil and held captive by some growly bloke whose face you can’t see. It takes approximately eight seconds to realise that narrative is unlikely to be TW2′s strong point, but that’s OK: bar some shonky subtitle grammar, it’s not dreadful, it’s not insulting, it’s just banally there.

Following a brief spot of playing with the character creator (there’s a decent range of face-tweaking options, and it’s possible to create someone breathtakingly ugly if you so choose), you’re broken out of the slimy-rocked slammer by a group of orcs and a surly/sassy/sarly masked lady with comically impractical armour and pointy ears.

Everyone’s a bit surly, which is because you spent most of the first game murdering orcs. This time around you’re bad-tempered allies, teaming up against the common enemy that is Mr NoFace. It’s not done terrifically interestingly, as everyone’s just blandly growly, but I’m slightly charmed by the inversion of roleplaying norms.

Oh yeah, and you can take your clothes off. I totally did that.

Annoyingly protracted tunnel run done, you get your first weapons and beat up a few guards, watch an achingly over-serious cutscene wherein Boss Orc gets his own back on a dark knight wearing metal antlers who once wronged him, then break out to the surface. You find yourself on a verdant lighting, rich in vegetation and bloom effects. Largely quite attractive, if not staggeringly so. Similar sort of level to Gothic 4 I’d say, but much more detailed characters thus far.

Everything remains completely linear at this point, but that is going to change later. For now, it’s all about stealth-killing a few laughably unaware beastmen, grabbing some more gear, then running through a series of tutorials on the various different kinds of combat. Melee, stealth, archery and magic are all open to you all the time, with character development depending on how you choose to allocate points earned upon levelling up.

It’s pretty standard RPG fare in terms of getting and spending XP, but it works well enough, and there’s certainly no being tied into an archetype. My guy, so far, is primarily melee with some semi-punchy magic to lure away stragglers or soften up scary things before I go in for the kill. Combat’s real time, high-action stuff – left click to smack, right click to block and number keys for a few special abilities such as blockbreaker. While better stats and loot help, it’s not invisible dice-rolling – it’s a proper fight, including the option to hide, run away and dodge. Oblivion’s the easy comparison, but if anything it’s even more non-mechanical.

Back to Tutorial Island though. There’s a prophecy to yawn through, there’s some fetch quests to run and, most interestingly, there’s an introduction to crafting. Crafting’s so far shaping up to be the most compulsive element of the game. Two Worlds 1 offered the brilliantly absurd system of simply merging similar weapons together to make a single, superior weapon. I was always deeply disappointed that this wasn’t represented by the hero running around with twelve swords taped awkwardly together.

This steps back yet further from implausibility, replacing impossible melding with dismantling unwanted loot into component parts – iron, steel, wood, leather, fabric, gems – which can in turn be bonded to the stuff you do want in order to upgrade it. I have no idea whether this has anything to do with real-world weapon forging, but as this is a game about fighting giant scorpions and helping sexy masked ladies escape from bear traps, I’m not exactly demanding 100% factual accuracy from this.

Even on Tutorial Island, I immediately became obsessed with the crafting. Everything that wasn’t tied down I’d take and dismantle, pushing my entry-level sword and shield to ever-greater heights. Unfortunately I was quickly prevented from doing so by a skill level cap – come my next level up, I’d need to decide whether to pour points into fighty stuff or into being a better blacksmith. Frankly, it wasn’t a hard decision. Dismantling things > killing things. Already, I have a backbone for my experience. Without it, I suspect I’d have been bored and annoyed by the hamminess and clichés, but as it is I’m building my own purpose. That’s key here.

The small island housed a few more beast-things for me to pick on, and a healthy drip-feed of loot. It was clear I couldn’t hang around for long though. Despite an admirable lack of invisible walls, the physically large landmass was defined by mountains and cliffs, restricting the explorable content to a few paths. I tried to break away from the fixed roads, I really did, but then I just ended up doing this for 20 minutes:

No matter – I was being ushered onwards to chapter one, to what would immediately become a dramatic escape from this linearity. It would also present me with a far, far stranger game. More on that – and on murdering poo-flinging monkeys – tomorrow.

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54 Comments »

  1. Pemptus says:

    Dismantling things seems alluring at first, but you get so much crap later on and you substitute your gear so quickly that you finally see this whole crafting business for what it is – a shallow affair and a nice little bullet point on the back on the box.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Crafting to get sockets on your items is quite handy as the effects can help a lot, but you’re right in that upgrading your weapon every 2 levels becomes prohibitive in terms of materials. Even if you break down every single drop, you’ll never have enough. This is true especially with quivers, more so if you keep a separate blunt and sharp set.

  2. Darko Drako says:

    Sounds interesting, look forward to tomorrows episode!

  3. Temple to Tei says:

    Ah, time to get a good pc to play this in all its glory.
    I hope it is glory -reloaded oblvion yesterday and remembered why I deleted it. Hate the levelling system so much, Two Worlds actually does something crazy like give me freedom to do what I want.

    And I see an Alienware ad as I think of a new pc.
    Suspicious.
    Are we getting a buyers guide? Or was it just a put-together-yourself guide?

    • Navagon says:

      Why is that suspicious? You said you wanted to get a good PC.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Oooh, I see what you did there.
      Can someone help me find the right overclockers page/website?
      I try to find the monthly recommendation page where they basically say what is good now, but cannot achieve that task apparently. Someone on the forums pointed me in that direction a couple of months back…

    • cjlr says:

      Tom’s hardware. Never fails.

      And obviously once you’ve got a sufficient level of background knowledge on the whole PC hardware deal, it’s a pretty minimal investment to keep abreast of developments. I built my system (well, the bulk of it) about 18 months ago, and I don’t plan on another for another six at least, but I do keep a rough idea of what I could get right now for my price-range.

    • Danarchist says:

      My brother just got the Alienware 17 inch with the two ati video cards in it. An awesome, if hefty, monster of a rig. Funniest thing is he has yet to have the second video card kick in on anything, and my asus g73 runs games just as pretty and just as fast for like 3k less. ;)

      I hope the graphics are actually as good as they look! Man I can deal with some cheesy writing if its actually that pretty.

    • neems says:

      Have you actually clicked on the Alienware link? It’s hilarious; starts off at £1300 and only goes up. I ended up clicking through page after page of options, desperately trying to work out where the money was actually going. And don’t forget the extras – £290 for a second Radeon HD6870 (the first is included in the price), 8 Gb of DDR3 for £280.

      PC building for millionaires.

    • cjlr says:

      £280 for RAM.

      what

      I don’t even

      I can get 8Gb of DDR3-1600 for the equivalent of about £75. Installing RAM is a ten minute job if you leave time for a tea break. WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO??

    • gerafin says:

      It goes to high, gaming-grade plastic.

    • sonofsanta says:

      I think the most cost/performance effective machine right now is probably based around the new Core i5-2500K and GeForce 560 Ti, but depending on your monitor, even that is probably overkill. It’s what I’d build right now if I were building though, but my shiny box of AMD joy is only just over a year old so I really can’t justify it.

      In general though: new Intel processor, one of Nvidia 500 or AMD 6000 GPU, 4GB RAM, joy.

    • ceriphim says:

      Alienware is overpriced shit. No question.

      If you don’t quite have the expertise to build your own system, but you know enough to know what you want and how much it *should* cost, go local. Seriously. I got a custom-built PC from a local shop for many hundreds of dollars less than a comparable Alienware (in terms of components and performance), along with a warranty and the piece of mind in knowing if I have a problem I can drive 5 miles down the freeway and they’ll help me out.

      Plus, when I do want to upgrade, all I have to do is roll into the shop with my box and get it taken care of no problem. Obviously, do your homework. But, in the end, buy local! Help keep PC gaming alive and well!

  4. pakoito says:

    Exactly my experience with the game, but I got so annoyed with not being able to make a swordmage (you need to be wielding a staff to use magic) that I just quit at that point.

  5. KikYu0 says:

    Nice to Read.

  6. omicron1 says:

    The thing about Two Worlds 2 is that it is beautifully optimized. Gothic 4 can’t hit playable framerates on my computer at anything better than low quality; whereas this seems to run the same no matter what settings are turned on. The bloom’s a bit overbright by default, and the motion-blur is also a bit much, but those can be turned down easily.

    The magic system, I’ve found, is a good deal more involved/fun/frustrating than the crafting. I have a spell that summons things to fight for me (I can handle seven of them at the same time!), but unfortunately they’re stuck at level 4 (I’m level 23) and I can’t figure out how to boost their individual power. Which means they’re barely able to kill an ostrich on their own, let alone anything powerful. I guess I’ll need to collect more spell cards and see if something comes out…

    The other thing I really like about the game is the sidequests. While the dialogue ranges between campy and “penniless college student,” the quests themselves tend to be much more interesting, involving, and unusual. Not to mention that there are a lot of them.

    Oh, and the multiplayer looks really interesting. It supposedly makes use of that huge landmass at the top of the map (the one we aren’t able to really get to in singleplayer) and contains everything from a co-op campaign to a pseudo-RTS/city-builder. If these turn out to be any good, I may actually enjoy the multiplayer in the long term!

    • DeathRow says:

      You need to add more Summon Cards/Carrier Cards(not sure) to increase the level of the summons. I actually just summon around 5 lvl 1 rock golems, have them block the enemies and spam my Area Spells like mad. Watch some youtube vids on how to make powerful spells without them costing thousands of MP.

    • Jimbo says:

      Summon is a type of Carrier card. I think you’re right that using multiple Summon cards will increase the level of the creature. Adding more Effect cards (Ice, Fire, etc.) gives it a slight strength bonus iirc, but I never found that worth bothering with tbh.

      The magic system is fantastic. I’m not usually a fan of magic in games at all, but they treat it like a science and I find that a more engaging approach. Experimenting with it is probably the highlight of the game, just don’t expect the game to remain balanced once you figure out how everything works. There’s one spell you can build which makes damage come off of your mana bar instead of your health bar, and given I had ~1k Health and ~12k Mana, this effectively made me invincible.

      If you do invest heavily in magic, I recommend making sure you have a spell setup for individual enemies and a spell for multiple enemies. If you have eg. a Fire Missile spell with a bunch of ricochet modifiers (which is awesome btw), it will bounce back and forth between multple enemies and tear groups apart in seconds, but if you fire the same spell at a single enemy it will just hit once and then fly off and be wasted.

    • omicron1 says:

      The way I’ve been running it is mixed magic and melee – partly in order to give myself the full array of crafting options (I’m a sucker for crafting), and partly to keep my combat options open. Melee for most enemies, fireball for cheetahs and such, and summons for anything I can’t face toe-to-toe/large groups. With extra power in the summons, it might even work!

    • yhancik says:

      Ohhhh, co-op campaign in the open world? That sounds pretty interesting!

      Any more details on that?

  7. Navagon says:

    “I was always deeply disappointed that this wasn’t represented by the hero running around with twelve swords taped awkwardly together.”

    I wanted something similar in Fallout 3. But in that case it was a cloud of weapons, ammo and pretzels following you around like a swarm of enraged hornets.

  8. Alistair says:

    The PC version is easily tweakable, so if you want to raise the FOV and turn of the various blur effects, that helps its looks a lot I found. You can push out the draw distance too, but I didn’t bother. There are also alternate horse control schemes :)

    I enjoyed many aspects of the game, especially in the earlier areas, but felt a few bad decisions detracted from it later on.

  9. DeathRow says:

    The Magic System is where this game really shines. I hope you try it.

  10. Inigo says:

    I wish for a mod that allows me to play as MC Hammer – just so that I can say I’ve played Two Worlds II: 2 Legit 2 Quit.

  11. darthmajor says:

    TW2 is a shockingly wonderful game, totally surprised me when i tried it. Was expecting another arcania hack job that i’d ragequit 20 minutes into it, but ended up doing some alarmingly long sessions and i have over 15 hours logged…which is like 14 hours more than i play ANY game that’s not EVE :D

    • Ezhar says:

      Still playing on this one as well – and I’m liking it a lot. Although I did give up after the archaelogy/tomb quest chain and looked up some maps – who the hell is supposed to figure out this <- spoilers.

  12. noom says:

    Become immersed in a generic fantasy world!

    • omicron1 says:

      Not really that generic of a world – half the game takes place in Fantasy Africa, and the other half in Fantasy China. Generic story, enemies, dialogue – sure, but not the world.

  13. JonasKyratzes says:

    What was shocking about TW1 was how different the voice acting and writing was in the German edition. I heard some snippets from the English edition and couldn’t believe my ears – whereas the German one was surprisingly well-done in terms of actors and had the kind of snappy, sarcastic dialogue that Gothic was perfect at, the English version was brain-meltingly terrible. Usually it’s the German-dubbed versions that make me puke.

  14. Riaktion says:

    Having played, finished and inexplicably enjoyed Gothic 4…. I was looking for a new game of similar ilk to play, this just might fit the bill.

    For some reason I am struggling to get into Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga… I think its the combat or something…

  15. ker0ton says:

    The game is awesome…and then chapter 2 kicks in :S

  16. Trelow says:

    I’m excited to try it, I really liked the first one. Waiting for a digital version though.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    “Two Worlds 1 offered the brilliantly absurd system of simply merging similar weapons together to make a single, superior weapon.”

    Oh, so it’s the Final Fantasy IX crafting system from ages ago, also featured a little more recently in Dragon Quest VIII.

    “This steps back yet further from implausibility, replacing impossible melding with dismantling unwanted loot into component parts – iron, steel, wood, leather, fabric, gems – which can in turn be bonded to the stuff you do want in order to upgrade it.”

    Oh so it’s the Vagrant Story crafting system, also featured much more recently in Diablo II post-patch, Hellgate: London, and Torchlight.

    But snarking aside, it is hard to come up with an original and somewhat plausible crafting system with everyone else already having a go at it.

    • Arathain says:

      I have to ask- did I miss something really important in Torchlight? I don’t remember any dismantling, except when I wanted to trash an item to remove a gem, and that didn’t leave bits behind except the gem.

    • drewski says:

      You didn’t miss anything. You could break the gem and keep the weapon, or break the weapon and keep the gem. Apart from a bit of transmuting, there’s no other crafting involved.

    • Dominic White says:

      No, Vagrant Story had one of the most complex and rewarding crafting systems in videogame history. The amount of customization you could do was amazing.

      Two Worlds had the silliest, stupidiest crafting system ever. Buy 20 Short Swords, then duct-tape them together to make a Long Sword +20, pretty much without limit. The same applied to potions, too. Find an item that gives you a strength bonus, stack it ridiculously, and suddenly you’ve got a ‘potion of one-shotting bosses’.

  18. Brumisator says:

    For some reason I get exited then suddenly and completely lose interest in RPGs of late. Risen, I played 20-30 hours, and for an unknown reason never touched it again. Dragon knight saga, same thing.
    Gothic 4 was just an abomination, and TBH, from reading this page, TW2 seems like more generic crap.

  19. aeromorte says:

    I played this game for some time now and i must say its amazing … im a 35 mage running around the 2nd island so i presume to finish the game itll take for me like 50+h … i have lots of fun here but lately must of the time i spend in my multiplayer villige or exploring the pvp or pve multiplayer content … its not a mmorpg thats for shure but still its fun to play with other ppl =]

  20. Oozo says:

    “And it’s possible to create someone breathtakingly ugly if you so choose.”

    For some reason unknown to me, that’s exactly what I’ve been choosing in the latest bunch of games I played. In most games, it’s surprisingly difficult to break the usual attractivity-normes with the tools you are given. But it’s worth it – the comical aspect of being told how beautiful a person you are, in, say, “Dragon Age”, when you clearly look like somebody nurtured on a plutonium-based diet in a village where loving relationships between close relatives is the norm – that’s something to be appreciated.

    So, bonus points for “Two Worlds”.

  21. Saiko Kila says:

    I don’t understand why the writer compares characters to Gothic 4. Please compare them to some other game, preferably a proper RPG. Divinity 2 or Risen or Witcher or something. I am a fan of Gothics thus never played Gothic 4 (bar the demo) and have no idea about characters there.

  22. Casimir's Blake says:

    Next up on BBC, Two Worlds 2: Nick Knowles takes DIY SOS to do up an ancient castle. They reckon they can have it done in a week if everyone pulls together…

    (Seriously, people, screenshot two proves all.)

    Not sure I want to bother with TW2, not when I’ve just started on Dragon Knight Saga. Much as the generic setting is as bland here as it is in Dragon Age, DKS rises above it and many other RPGs by not only being a solid game, but doing one – nowadays very important – thing very, very well: compelling dialogue and good acting. No, DA didn’t do BOTH.

    Edit: How did I get through the post without spotting THAT? Still, my point stands. Where is the DKS Wot I Think, RPS?

  23. sonofsanta says:

    Sounds… intriguing. Currently enjoying The Witcher very much so I’m in the mood for this sort of thing again.

    I eagerly await tales of poo-flinging monkeys tomorrow. Especially if the poo is flung, constantly, from their sore and aching anuses as they fly through the air dodging ducks.

  24. adonf says:

    I haven’t read the article yet but I’d still like to say that Two Worlds 1 is on sale on GOG for US$ 7 or something. If I had time to play games and not only to just buy them I’d give it a try.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah I bought TW1 from GoG a few months back but unfortunately it runs like a dog and just keeps crashing every 5 minutes. I’ve no idea why because I ran the TW demo when it first came out, how ever long ago that was, on this exact same rig and it ran fine back then.

    • adonf says:

      No help from the GOG forums or the support page ?

  25. DigitalSignalX says:

    I’m surprised Mr. Meer hasn’t touched on the UI and the big ugly square grid of functionality. No paper doll, and you will definitely end up breaking down or selling an equipped item on accident despite the differently framed square of the item in question. Using spacebar for pretty much every interaction also has you jumping like mad in front of NPC’s and doors you wish to interact with as well.

  26. KilgoreTrout_XL says:

    I’m actually playing this on my PS3 so I can lay in bed and grind through it, which some might find lazy, others ingenious. Anyway, this little chart might help you if you’re wondering what the hell those symbols on your armor mean.

    http://twoworldsvault.ign.com/fms/Image.php?id=1634

  27. thebigJ_A says:

    I want to play this, but never, ever want to play the first. Will I not have a clue what’s going on?

  28. UK_John says:

    The only reason so many think the first Two Worlds game is seen as terrible, is that console gamers have a different language to PC gamers. PC gamers will complain about a bad console to PC conversion by actually calling it a “bad conversion”, when a game is converted from PC to console, like Two Worlds, console owners just say “this game sucks”! I have literally never read a console gamer even saying “the game sucked on console”, let alone “it was a crappy PC conversion” or some such!

    I thought Two Worlds 1 was very endearing and had a humour to it that reminded me of the Fallout games. The main characters quips were also very endearing, and funnily while that voice was slated in Two Worlds, the same voice and personality was used in Sacred 2 and loved – same voice actor, same quotes! :) Funny world, gaming, eh?!

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