Published on September 4th, 2010 | by prime1
Two Worlds II – Hands On
Sounds like you have a serious problem,” says Two Worlds II’s hero replying to one of Antaloor’s priests complaining about the sudden uprising of the undead in the local swamp. The only way to deal with them? By forcing lightning to strike the church’s steeple. But there’s another problem. The steeple’s somehow become dislodged and found itself lost in the aforementioned zombie-infested swamp. Forsooth!
Unnecessary use of Old English aside, our hero’s response is a statement that could equally be applied to SouthPeak, the publisher of Two Worlds II, who faces an uphill struggle after the disastrous first game. So what better way to tackle it than scrapping everything and starting again from scratch? Well, that’s precisely what developer Reality Pump has done, using a brand new iteration of their GRACE engine to provide us with some extraordinary visuals (some of the lighting, weather and particle effects here are far nicer than those found in your typical RPG), while taking prompts from BioWare to rejig their combat and inventory models. And they’ve totally removed the Ye Olde English speak, too. No unwittingly hilarious dialogue prompts for the sequel, then.
The game is set five years after the events of the original (or at least the single-player is, as the multiplayer co-op bridges the gap between the two), throwing the hero into a prison under the control of the Dark Lord Gandohar. A band of Orcs – who fans will recognize as the first game’s antagonists – soon spring you out of the jail, and decide to work with you to save your sister and slay Gandohar once and for all.
Once you’re out you’re free to choose quests at will, and equip your character with any abilities that you see fit at the time. Unlike most RPGs you’re not asked to choose a particular character type at the start of the game, instead letting you level up certain abilities as you progress. Depending on the circumstances you find yourself in, the system lets you quickly switch between the long-range magic of the Mage, or the close-quarters brawling skills of the Warrior – a feature made more streamlined by allowing you to hotkey certain equipment loadouts to the D-pad. Combat is far simpler than it was, with movesets assigned to the face-buttons, and potions, vials and items easily accessible by a circle menu assigned to R3.
So it’s been made considerably more manageable, but despite the streamlining, Two Worlds II’s incredible depth means it’s still a decidedly hardcore RPG, a field where it already seems outdated and outclassed. There’s fun to be had with the game’s ‘create your own spells’ mechanic, which lets you combine two components together to create a range of spells (please don’t try fireball and spray in an enclosed room), but it was difficult to tell from our hands-on whether the narrative – a key factor in any RPG, of course – will be able to hold its own in the final game. And with Dragon Age 2 lingering in the background, it’s hard to see Two Worlds II being much more than a mild distraction until BioWare’s epic rolls around next March.