[Guest review by Darryn Bonthuys]
With Dragon Age 2 just around the corner, do you have space in your heart (or wallet) to invest in another fantasy RPG, or does Two Worlds 2 fail miserably as a worthwhile competitor in a genre that has seen a recent revival?
The game starts off with our nameless protagonist imprisoned by the Evil Gandohar, while his sister remains in the clutches of this aspiring world conqueror. Breaking out of the castle dungeons with the help of some stereotypically aggressive orcs, our hero must find the strength to rescue his sister and save the land.
To do so, players will have to gain new skills and armaments, fighting all manners of beasties from rabid baboons to nameless henchmen, and several boss creatures in between, before the final showdown of good vs. evil.
Customisation is one of the strong points in this game, which is good considering that the gameplay feels clunky and average, while the graphical engine of the game must have been hit with an entire forest of ugly trees.
Your character can become proficient in three attributes, melee, archery and wizardry, accumulating new spells and flourishes along the way. The way skills progress in the game is up to the player’s taste, allowing them to create a formidable berserker that is a trigger-happy archer and also has the ability to reuse skill points (that have been wasted on skills that are otherwise useless to them) thanks to Soul Patchers that are scattered around the world.
While the third option, magic, benefits from a fun and innovative mix and match system of combining spells, the effort it takes to acquire them and use them in battle is a waste, thanks in no part to enemies who swarm a player before they can cast a fireball or conjure some lightning, leaving players better off as a fighter or an archer.
Combat as a whole is well animated, with characters using impressive moves and techniques, yet it still lacks finesse and feels wooden, resulting in some disappointing fights.
It doesn’t help either that the game has a difficulty that is harder than adamantium nails, with early quests often ending in quick deaths thanks to homicidal baboons.
There’s a ton of loot out there to pillage from your fallen foes, but none of it is really worthwhile to haul in your inventory. However, the crafting system in the game makes better use of these items at least, allowing players to reduce items into components that can be used to upgrade your armour and weaponry.
Alchemy also pops up in the game, as the hundreds of herbs and plants that are available to be harvesters, can be combined to make potions that range from standard health and mana, combat boosters, and even aÂ Jesus imitation elixir that allows you to walk on water.
The inventory system in Two Worlds 2 is a complete mess however, making it awkward to keep track of essential inventory items and manage them effectively. With no options to sort through these items, players will often find themselves stuck with more useless ingredients and items, having to scavenge through these dozens of items before they finally find that sword they were looking for.
Two Worlds 2 is a massive world, full of almost limitless side-quests and missions, with various towns and traders to barter with, and everything in between them looking to kill players. While the map offers some help, it’s not enough for a game of this scope, especially when map markers fail to highlight which quests are active or completed, leaving the massive world to be memorised by gamers.
The visuals are yet another mixed bag of vibrant landscapes and terrible textures, but the action is smooth and never suffers from a drop in frame-rate.
While the lengthy single-player campaign will keep players occupied for many hours, there are some multiplayer modes available. Online play requires you to start fresh with a new character, but the option to play as different races gives more customisation options.
PVP is a frequently mismatched affair, so don’t be surprised if your early level Orc Archer suffers a few one-hit kills from an angry dwarf. Co-op mode gives gamers a few quests with which to adventure together, but much like the PVP mode, the varying levels of characters can lead to one higher level player doing all the work for his party.
There’s also the option to micromanage your own village, think ‘Lord of the Rings SimCity’. It’s a fairly time-consuming venture, but is nonetheless well put together and balanced, unlike the rest of the game.
Surprisingly easy on the thumbs, the well designed controller layout is hampered by a poor inventory system and combat that favours hack n’ slashers in an overly difficult environment.
Design and Presentation: 6/10
Simultaneously gorgeous and dated, the visuals are a mixed bag of emotions and textures, while the horrendous voice acting will most likely elicit a chuckle or two.
If you run around in a grey robe telling people that they shall not pass, then you’ll get some fun out of the hundreds of quests in this game, otherwise, wait for Dragon Age 2.
While an improvement over the original Two Worlds game, it still doesn’t say much for this title. Despite some decent gameplay, the numerous bugs and poor design choices bring down what could have been an above average game.
[Reviewed on X-Box 360, played on medium difficulty]