Wot I Semi-Think: Two Worlds II, Day Two

By Alec Meer on January 31st, 2011 at 8:39 pm.

Apologies for not presenting this to you on Friday – I’d planned to post it after attending the excellent World of Love conference, but it turns out that if you drink a lot of beer then go home without eating anything you fall asleep on the train and wake up in a darkened station feeling like you’re dying. So there’s that. But on the subject of dying, let’s talk about all the endangered species I mindlessly murdered during Chapter One of Two Worlds II.

A step through a teleporter – TW2′s perhaps over-familiar take on fast-travel – rushes me out of cramped Tutorial Island and into, improbably, Africa.

A small hub town occupied by unchatty NPCs and a pair of uninterestingly-stocked traders backs onto the Savannah, a vast semi-verdant desert area. I’m given quests, few of which I have yet undertaken, to reach characters or objects at its extremes or in the few caves built into an infuriatingly impassable central rocky mass.

I don’t care about any of that, bar a so-far futile attempt to access a tantalising wizardly tower somewhere on cock-block-rock. I’m in the desert. Not Fantasy Forest or Icy Wonderland or Lava World. I’m somewhere a little more real, a little more barren, a little more, well, The Barrens. My time with World of Warcraft is well behind me, but early-Horde area The Barrens lingers as strongly in my memory as any childhood homes. Many first-year WoW players will agree that The Barrens was a terrible, over-sized, grind-ridden area, but it was vital in young WoW’s world-building and exploration punchiness. I believe it was redesigned for Cataclysm, but I’d rather not see its changed form. I remember The Barrens fondly; it’s to me a vast brown-yellow memory kingdom occupied by ghosts of what I truly believed MMOs would become, and what they so resolutely failed to.

Now I’m back in another variant of cell-shaded Africa, collecting swords and killing beasts. It’s startling in both the unexpected reminensce and in the sharp change from the dingy claustrophobia of Two Worlds II so far. My purpose, as revealed in part one, has for now coalesced into an obsession with upgrading my weapons via a dismantlement-based crafting system. So that’s why I’m out in this desert. Running. Stabbing. Looting.

In a manner that I suspect may ultimately become haunting, Two Worlds II has poured everything into the incidental details of world, at the aching expense of dialogue, characterisation and common sense. I don’t care why my character is here in the slightest, but I am massively impressed by how well they’ve recreated and animated the ape (a baboon? I think so. My monkey-fu is not what it could be) that’s currently hiding behind a tree and flinging something suspiciously viscous at me. I can’t help but presume it’s monkey poo, but on the other hand it’s a lurid green colour and causes some sort of poison damage when it hits me. Best not to wonder.

When I first ventured into the Savannah, these apes/monkeys/oh God I don’t know please don’t judge me were a reasonably serious threat. Their poo-poison took off vast chunks of health, plus the little buggers were deftly able to throw’n'run, taking a mere modicum of damage from me before scuttling out of range. Fortunately, either generous or imbalanced experience point gain sees me level up fast during my arid wandering, and it’s not long before I can hold down sprint, rapidly gain pace with one of these primates and with a single left-click dispatch it into a motionless sandy-brown heap. Which I then loot, and with horror collect the likes of a tongue, lung or heart.

These items are useful to me for potion creation: an art I have yet to delve into, but in the meantime experience the singularly unpleasant joy of walking around with a backpack full of miscellaneous animal parts. Weapons and armour contribute to my character’s load, often requiring that I dismantle valuable items in order to walk again, but apparently you can carry around as many monkey organs as you like without issue.

This desert has no shortage of endangered species awaiting my blade. Ostriches, boars, cheetahs and – Oh God, oh God no – rhinos roam the Savannah. They’re designed with painstaking detail but almost invisible purpose – lovingly-made textures and animations but hatefully murderous futility. Most of them are aggressive to a fault, but all die with troubling ease. It’s rare now that any requires more than a single swipe.

Only the rhinos, the remarkable rhinos require three or four slashes from my ever-upgraded sword, but either by error or by Machiavellian design, they don’t fight back. They stand there, placid and innocent in their hugeness, before crumpling so that I can loot their horns. Perhaps they’re supposed to be cows or horses, some foolishly trusting companion/cattle beast of man. Perhaps the AI routines never made it far. Either way, it makes me sick to my stomach to assault these huge, noble, peaceful creatures. Yet I can never resist doing so. Something about their mass and real-world ferocity has me convinced they’re honourable prey. The experience points will surely be immense, the bards will surely sing of my deeds.

No. It’s just meat. Granted, enough itinerant slaying of roaming beasts occasionally grants me bonus skill points (almost always spent on crafting), but there’s no pride in it. “Well done. You’re the best monstrous bastard. Here’s a token recognition of how awful you are.”

I’ve been horrible. I hate myself. All that saved me was being presented with an alternative context for animals – my very own horse, a faithful speed to whisk my across this land to my questy fates. The only reason I stopped killing every beast in sight? I couldn’t be bothered to stop the horse to get off and start stabbing.

I’m a monster. But this is an amazing desert.

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42 Comments »

  1. Jimbo says:

    I wore that hat for the whole game. It might not be the strongest hat, but it does have a feather.

    Also, if you were playing as a mage, you could be killing those rhinos with anvils by now. I’m just sayin’…

  2. dadioflex says:

    Why oh why didn’t they release this via Steam?

    • trooperdx3117 says:

      What they seriously didnt release this on Steam at all? Why oh why would a small developer making a pc game be so stupid as to do that?!

    • Brumisator says:

      Especially since TW1 is on Steam.

    • MrMud says:

      Yea it makes no sense.
      And I can not be bothered to go look for it in an actual store.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Some places I’ve found it in the last few minutes:

      Amazon – £26 delivered.
      Direct2Drive – unavailable, but listed (Perhaps it’s coming soon?)
      Two World 2′s official shop (linked from their homepage anyway) ~50 euros (download version available).
      GamersGate – £29.95

      The cheapest way to get the game seems to be to get it delivered by post from an online retailer. (Digital Distribution stores checked: Steam, Direct2Drive, gog.com, impulse, greenmangaming, gamersgate)

  3. simonh says:

    “Semi-verdant desert area” huh?

    I hope they mix up the landscapes a bit with some arid marshlands and frigid rainforests as well.

    So which class is the OP one in this game then? Fighter, archer or mage?

  4. Colthor says:

    Yes, you *are* a monster.

    On the bright side, find some oats and you can make baboon haggis.

  5. WMain00 says:

    It’s available on gamersgate if you want it, for 30 pounds. General impressions are positive s far.

    As for why its not on steam, there are rumours that a fight has broke out between the publishers and developers.

    • mwoody says:

      The US edition isn’t out until the 8th, according to Gamersgate and Direct2Drive. I could probably do some proxy work or whatever and get it now, but whatever. If I wait, maybe whatever bizarre conflict has kept them off Steam will be resolved.

  6. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Yes. Animal genocide. If you hadn’t talked about that elaborately in this post, I might have insulted your mother.

    A friend of mine told me he wasn’t killing every animal in sight when he first came to that area. In fact, the thought didn’t even occur to him. He is not my friend anymore.

  7. darthmajor says:

    The local fauna being too weak stops being a problem when you get to the jungle. Damn velociraptors bite your head off before you even see them coming…

    How can the mage be op? Direct damage spells aren’t amazing, confusion is useful but not so much against many opponents…

    • Jimbo says:

      They’re pretty amazing if you set them up right. A fire missile with a bunch of ricochets attached will rip most groups apart. There’s a DOT spell (I forget which one, I think it’s a necromancy one) which is stupid powerful – good for single enemies where the Fire Ping Pong won’t work, but not as fun to watch.

      There’s also a spell that makes damage deplete your mana bar instead of your health bar, and given I had ~12x as much mana as health toward the end of the game, this meant I was effectively invincible. Not that it’s necessary (this first spell is plenty powerful enough by itself), but there’s another spell which recharges your mana when you take melee damage. You can have both of these spells active at the same time.

    • Gar says:

      Yea, what Jimbo said, plus the fact you could add the “blinding” effect to your missles, which would stop them in their tracks for a bit… So you pretty much end up with a missle that splits into 7, each of which ricochets 5 times and then blind. The last couple of hours was just run, stop, spray, run, stop, spray until I got bored and just started using melee instead…

    • omicron1 says:

      Alternately, you can set up a necromancy spell, with the skill that cuts mana cost maxed, and get yourself an army of eight high-level minions. Deadly meat shields work disturbingly well. (Aside from their propensity to spawn on the top floor of any multi-story area regardless of where you are, of course)

  8. Riaktion says:

    I would buy this now from GG, however it seems to think I am in the US and says its not released there. Even though I am on .co.uk and in the UK.

    Weird

  9. McDan says:

    Deserts are always the best.

  10. Snargelfargen says:

    This game sounds fantastic. I get the impression that the developers have fetishized the inane details of action rpgs and turned them into a game unto itself. I would actually be pretty impressed if the entire game consisted only of slaughtering innocent wild-life, crafting, and levelling up (unnecessarily).

    One question: I bought the first Two Worlds over the holidays. Should I play it first, or does it even matter?

  11. malkav11 says:

    I’m guessing its failure to be on Steam has something to do with the US release date. But who knows.

  12. bill says:

    someone needs to mod in a camera option – then we can just run around taking pictures of nicely modelled animals like Endless Ocean or Beyond Good and Evil.
    Maybe console developers are less genocidal

    • Urthman says:

      Chap named Kratos would like a word with you about that. If you would just step this way…

    • omicron1 says:

      Afrika was supposedly Pokemon Snap for african wildlife. It got middling reviews overall.

    • Ziv says:

      Wild Earth is what you’re looking for, it’s a first person cameraman game set in Africa.

  13. DOLBYdigital says:

    Reading this reminds me of playing Monster Hunter. I too often feel bad when killing the smaller animals in order to carve their bodies for tongues, claws and hides. I actually defended a couple of the more peaceful animals from the large aggressive beasts before. I love games that present a semi-complete ecosystem for you to explore, enjoy and sometimes kill/carve up :)

  14. Jarmo says:

    It’s cel-shaded, not cell-shaded. The term has nothing to do with biological building blocks and everything to do with the cellulose acetate sheets used in hand-painted animation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cel-shaded_animation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cel

    It’s a common mistake. Using “toon shading” instead would be typographically safer and more descriptive for the layman. “Cartoon shading” even more so.

    • adonf says:

      Good point, except that cartoons have been trying to lose the classic appearance and look more 3-D for at least 20 years. The 90s Animaniacs series is a good example. Maybe someday cartoons will go back to the flat colours and black contour style to make them look more videogamish.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      also most importantly this game and world of warcraft both are not cel shaded

  15. aeromorte says:

    well i dont have any horse problems anymore … since im a mage i like to use my bouncing bullet spell … interesting that it can bounc to your horse and kill him lol -.= it only drops meat

  16. phlebas says:

    ‘The horror! The horror!’

  17. Casimir's Blake says:

    at the aching expense of dialogue, characterisation and common sense

    Curiously enough, all three of those reasons kept me from playing more than 40 minutes of Just Cause 2.

    This sounds like a waste of time, but I hope that RPS will be covering Dragon Knight Saga to make up for it! Dragon Age wishes it was as fun as DKS.

    • Brumisator says:

      You know all that bad dialogue was skippable in Just Cause 2, right?

    • Ziv says:

      You know that Just Cause 2 was THE most fun game of 2010? you know that the stupid dialogue was just plain funny (although very repetitive)?

      Are you aware that in that game you can blow up an entire village while riding the parachute?
      Are you aware that you could grapple from one plane to another and then carjack the plane?
      Are you aware that you can do the same thing to every vehicle in the game including the enemies cars?
      Are you aware that the plot gets even more bizarre once you meet Panay?
      Are you aware that I’ve sunk about 40 hours into this game and currently am in the middle of my second playthrough?

  18. Chaz says:

    Do they come back as ghosts like they did in the first Two Worlds?

    • adonf says:

      Well I thought you couldn’t get the first one to work…

    • Chaz says:

      Not recently when I bought it from GoG, no, but I had in the distant past when the game first came out.

  19. UK_John says:

    What a change we have seen in game reviews. Used to be a game was finished – yes even a cRPG, even if it had to be finished with cheats, before a game was reviewed. Now we get a sort of preview based on the tutorial, and a review based on what seems like 5% of chapter one completed of a four chapter game.

    I sometimes wonder if Two Worlds got slated on PC because it needs at least 4 hours to get into, and reviewers just played it for three before writing the review!

    I am still playing Two Worlds, I am level 26 and was handling everything thrown at me, including Ogres, but then a small village I found in the middle of nowhere gave me a total of 8 quests, one of which was getting rid of some insects… “How hard could it be” I said to myself so confidentially. How wrong I was! Huge ‘starship Trooper’ style insects set upon me, along with ‘insects’ stand on two legs with weapons! All had armour! I was dead pretty damn quick!

    Gotta love the European cRPG’s. They are what PC gaming are all about, and not the fluffy console centric conversion from the giant U.S. companies!

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Dude… you realize this ain’t a review, yeah? It’s part 2 of a multi-part series of posts about what the author thinks as he plays the game. That’s why the title isn’t the “Wot I Think” that it is usually.

      Hell, even the normal “Wot I Think”s aren’t really reviews.

    • phlebas says:

      Interesting thought – do you think playing to the end of a game using cheats gives a more accurate sense of it than not finishing the game but playing it “as God intended”?

  20. Ziv says:

    “but in the meantime experience the singularly unpleasant joy of walking around with a backpack full of miscellaneous animal parts.” And in the game..

  21. thebigJ_A says:

    I hope this doesn’t go the way of the not-enough-iron game reports…