Two Worlds II, from Polish developers Reality Pump, is a open world RPG that places you in the shoes of a young man whose sister has been kidnapped by an evil necromancer wizard. It’s your job to save her from being used as some sort of expendable magical resource. The story can be at times pretty cliché but as any fan of Oblivion will tell you its not really about the story, its about those three magical ‘L’s: Loot gathering, Land exploration and Leveling up.
Looting is fun in most games, but in Two Worlds II the ranged and varied styles of weaponry and armour in your inventory will have you constantly wanting to experiment with different equipment combinations. All weaponry and armour is customizable too; colour and removable attribute stones, even a full upgrading system involving materials such as leather, steel and wood. This leaves you to make the choice between selling old weapons, or breaking them down into their component parts, to upgrade your new shiny sword, axe or bow.
If all the stat tracking and customization isn’t really your cup of tea though, the game’s developers have provided a good indication, at a glance, of an item of loot’s quality and its rarity. This comes in the form of a yellow star next to each item. Rather than being forced to peruse over every Goblin Shield you get, you can just quickly scan the rarity rating and get back to the action.
The land size in this game is huge. You start the game on a big island with a few resident goblin creatures and not much else, but when you look at the map you realize you are on a tiny island and that the game is huge. It’s not all about the size of the world though, it’s about the variety and contrast in the exploration that makes these games fun. After playing this game for 30-plus hours, and still under halfway through the main game, I can report with fervor that Two Worlds II has vastly contrasting elements to the aesthetics. The game’s locations will vary widely from grassy lush forests to barren deserts, from raptor-filled jungles to Japanese Samurai-esque towns, not to mention a wealth of other caves and dungeons to boot. The game is truly a confusing juxtaposition of styles and eras, and that is actually the games greatest strength. Too many games pick an era, or style, and stick to it but this game refuses to put all its eggs in one basket. This game intentionally opts for a liberal and fun approach to the artistic styling of the locations and characters.
Leveling up in Two Worlds II is probably the most ordinary aspect of the game. There are three combat skills to invest in: Magic, Melee and Archery, each with around nine skills to work on. Magic is probably the most interesting class to choose because of the wonderful synthesis system. You combine magic by collecting cards from shops, chests and the corpses of your enemies, and then combine these further, into more elaborate spells with unpredictable effects. The cards come with several important traits, including the card’s element, the delivery of the spell, and modifiers such as damage, protection, time, as well as various missile modifiers. The correct combination of each of these can have hilarious effects in battle, for example it’s possible to synthesize a spell that showers heavy anvils on your enemies, and when combined with a tornado spell, can create a vortex of anvils and debris that mops up any enemies unlucky enough to get close to you. This is where the game’s excellent physics engine comes into play, adding further depth to the fun that is had.
The Melee class is probably the most satisfying to use thanks to some pretty gruesome, bone crunching sounds and slow motion moments that occur randomly in battle. The skills used in the Melee class are fun to use too, such as a powerful kick that paralyzes enemies. The Archer class is actually quite frustrating to use, because swarming enemies stop you from drawing your bow, thus rendering the entire class a headache waiting to happen. This is especially apparent during cave and other indoor battles, which is a shame because, when outdoors, this class is great fun to use and can actually deal the most damage.
The game doesn’t always explain important symbols and skills to you, so Internet forums are your friend if you want to know what every number represents on the screen. There are also a few major glitches to contend with. The horse riding is nearly broken, which I didn’t mind until the game forces you to race across a desert on a narrow path, resulting in the horse frequently getting stuck on thin branches, pebbles and other debris on the road.
The stealth sections in the game are poorly made, with enemies somehow occasionally spotting you through walls. Also the ‘instant kill’ move is restricted to humanoid creatures, which makes investment in this area of the game a total waste. The voice acting quality in Two Worlds II dips all-to-frequently, simply because of the seeming lack of vocal range from the actors who were hired. Dialogue, overall, is better written than the actual delivery. Each character is painted with a satisfactory level of personality to make them interesting in the moment, but not enough for you to remember them an hour later.
Overall Two Worlds II is like a nicotine patch for hardcore RPG fans, the quality can vary drastically, and some will get more of a hit from it than others. The game is an amalgamation of art styles and never fails to feel unique in the vast market of Sandbox RPGs, and if you need that RPG itch scratched you could certainly do a lot worse that Two Worlds II.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac Release Date: 25/01/2011
Disclosure: Community member Mitchell Norton bought a copy of Two Worlds II and reviewed it on a Mac. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.