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Two Worlds Reviewed

by David "Corwin" Yarwood, 2007-10-30
Some games are born great, some achieve greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them. Unfortunately, most fall short of those high ideals. Two Worlds, while striving for greatness, doesn't quite make it. The game it most reminded me of was the original Gothic and if you enjoyed that classic, then there's hours of enjoyment available for you here.

The difficulty with defining an RPG is that different people have different expectations. Do you want brilliant graphics, a wide-open world, an engaging story, multitudinous quests, challenging combat, alternative methods of quest completion? The list could go on and on, and no game can satisfy all the demands. Two Worlds tries to cover as many bases as possible, but ultimately fails to deliver in every case. However, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and in the end you have a game which is a lot of fun to play and which kept me engaged for close to 40 hours before I decided I'd better stop enjoying myself with all the side quests and finish the main one or this review would never get written.

The main storyline is both trite and fairly short. The good news is that you can totally ignore it for as long as you want. In fact, once you complete it, the game is over. There is never any sense of urgency, so every once in a while I'd complete a small part of it on my way to exploring a new location. When I finally decided to get it finished, it took me less than an hour and to be honest, the final 'Boss' encounter was a total disappointment; one hit from me and it was all over.

Where the game shines brightest is in the overwhelming number of diverse and sometimes inter-related side quests, which are kept track of by a very well set out journal. One of the things I liked about the game is that it doesn't take itself too seriously and if you pay attention, you'll notice lots of tongue-in-cheek humour. This is frequently in evidence from the comments made by your PC when every person you talk to during a quest wants you to do something for them before they will help you out. You'll find all the standard conventions being used, but it's all part of the fun. Many of these side quests are far better constructed and offer more choices than the main one, and I could have easily played the game for another 20 hours before completing them all.

Exploring the world is something we RPG players love to do and Two Worlds offers a large and diverse sandbox for us to play in. Teleporters are everywhere, so once you've visited an area, there is no need for tedious backtracking. In fact, several areas even have merchants stationed right beside a teleporter to make selling all your loot easy. Once you obtain your own personal teleporter, you can even escape the middle of a dungeon to clean out your inventory and return. While some people decry this, for me it makes gaming more enjoyable. I hate tedium for the sake of 'realism'.

I can't leave the topic of exploration without mentioning graphics, since for some people that is their primary concern. It's never mine. I cut my teeth on ASCII games, so the quality of the graphics is secondary to me. Two Worlds is good, without being outstanding. It has the usual problems of things/people popping in and out and the character models used for the NPC's are fairly limited and repetitive, but the only thing that really bothered me, was the unfocused stare above my head that they all had during a conversation. Avoiding eye contact always worries me. Changes to your armour or robes is reflected in game with your avatar, as are your weapons, shields and so on. It doesn't take too long before your character looks totally awesome.

Weapons and armour are both plentiful and varied in the game. You can eventually deck out your PC in whatever takes your fancy and with the 'stacking' possibilities, you can upgrade them to become even more powerful. Using alchemy, you can brew both temporary and permanent potions, and it's possible to add magical bonuses to your weapons and armour as well. Ingredients are everywhere and experimenting with different combinations can be a lot of fun. You don't even have to find a special place to do it, you carry a complete alchemy kit in your inventory and it doesn't take up any space at all.

While there's not much to the initial character creation - you play a human, male, mercenary - there is a wide selection of skills available to upgrade throughout the game. Every time you level up, which you do quite frequently, you get to add five points to your basic stats (strength, dexterity, vitality, willpower) and one point to your skills. You also get bonus skill points throughout the game for accomplishing various goals. In this way, you can create the character of your choice. Mine was a powerful Battle Mage who could shoot of a couple of area effect spells to soften up a mob before wading in with his sword to slice and dice. That combination worked very well for me, but archery and pure magic are other possibilities. While building up your lockpick skill is very helpful with the many chests that abound, thieves are not really very useful. There are plenty of barrels too but you can't bash any of them. Unfortunately some skills are not really that useful. Swimming, unhorsing - even riding, which I tried but seldom used - are not worth spending skill points on. However, if you do make a mistake there are people in the game who, for a price, will restore those skill points - though these and certain trainers are often frustratingly difficult to find early on. What you have to do is note whenever you approach an NPC whether they are marked with a circle or a diamond on them; circles are generic NPCs, while diamonds indicate something special with the colour of the diamond indicating their purpose. For example, green means a quest giver.

The magic system is both effective and frustrating. It's based on cards, which you can buy, find and stack. There are even booster cards you can use. However, you can only have 3 spells active at any one time or else you have to go into your spell inventory window and change the cards. This is not a major problem, since the game pauses while you do it, but it is clumsy. There are 5 schools of magic for which you have to find initial trainers and 5 levels within each school for which you need a combination of skill points (3 per level) and character levels before you can advance. If you choose to major in magic, then other areas will suffer. To be honest, I probably used only about six spells regularly the entire game but since I only had to buy two of them, it wasn't really a problem. I did find summoning to be practically useless and quickly gave it away. I didn't find magic to be overly powerful; my sword usually did greater damage, but it was helpful with large groups of enemies, which you meet regularly as you wander the countryside.

The interface was easy to use, though I found the quickslots a virtual waste of time, especially the so-called customisable ones. Basically, movement is WASD, Use/Pickup is Spacebar, and dialogue options and fighting is mouse, with the right button assigned to a specific action, usually a spell, but it could be a potion, or specific skill usage. Sound and music was generally not annoying when I bothered to use it, but the voice acting was frequently 'amusing', especially the 'Japanese' accents you find in one particular area.

The game really does nothing brilliantly, but many things well enough to create a fun and enjoyable experience. I wanted to explore more before finishing the game and I'll likely return to an earlier save to see what else I missed by finishing quickly. It's not a deep, challenging experience. There are precious few moral dilemmas and rarely are their major consequences to your actions. Combat is relatively easy so that people who are twitch challenged like myself can still have fun, while those who prefer it more difficult can choose to play on Hard. Bottom line? I liked the game and would recommend it to most people except the overly fussy. It's very Gothic-like while being different in many ways as well. Grab the demo and give it a spin if you're still unsure but it's a pleasant way to spend a few spare hours.
Box Art

Information about

Two Worlds

Developer: Reality Pump

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 40-60 hours
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
Europe
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2007-08-24
· Publisher: ZUXXEZ Entertainment

North America
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2007-07-24
· Publisher: Southpeak Interactive

More information


Other articles

Summary

Pros

  • Fun to Play
  • Easy Interface
  • Tons of Quests
  • Large world to explore
  • Relatively Bug free

Cons

  • NPC animations poor
  • Voice acting somewhat cheesy
  • Graphical glitches
  • Little depth and real challenge

Rating

Review version

1.5

Opinions from other editors

Brian "Dhruin" Turner

I'm wary of the comparison to Gothic. There are indeed enough similarities to make the comparison valid but, for me, Gothic represents the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of artistic vision. Two Worlds definitely has something to offer - especially for explorers - but the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink feature set lacks focus, serving up a generic setting, underdone combat, trite story and horrendous dialogue. So many opportunities are squandered, like the potentially interesting factions that just go nowhere in terms of the actual gameplay. Some players will really enjoy developing their characters (the skill system is a highlight) and travelling the huge world, but Two Worlds just didn't engage me.

Michael "txa1265" Anderson

Despite having some very mixed feelings about the game, I am not of two minds about Two Worlds. No, as I spent dozens of hours wandering the countryside of Antaloor I was very aware of the many shortcomings of the game; yet I kept on going, having a very good time playing this very flawed game. Will you enjoy it similarly? It depends on many things - and on your tolerance threshold for many things. I have discussed the game with many people and found that certain problems that stopped some people dead in their tracks didn't even register with others. Unfortunately, there is no possible way of describing Two Worlds as 'superb' ... unless you think of the towns of Dungeon Lords as simply 'understaffed'. There are many good and bad elements in this free-roaming and sprawling third-person RPG. So instead of detailing every aspect, I'm just going to list out the positive and negative features:

Two Worlds is actually a very positive experience if you don't dig too deep - I know many people having a blast playing, and so did I. The worlds is huge and the areas are varied and dangerous - there are plenty of areas where wandering off the trail will get you quickly killed (yes I think that is a good thing). The advancement system does a wonderful job of making you feel more powerful with each point you invest and the (albeit unexplained) ability to stack weapons of the same kind to get increased power and effects is loads of fun. The alchemy system is just wonderful - you can create tons of stat-building potions if you are diligent about collecting everything in sight. The combat and magic systems work pretty well and will carry you through much of the game. Battles are a click-to-hit system, with left click triggering a main attack and right-click triggering a skill or spell. Perhaps the best part is the amazing amount and variety of side-quests: while you have the usual 'fetch' and 'kill' quests, there are many multi-part quests that unfold stories right before your eyes. It is these small glimpses inside of the lives of the people of the land - combined with the combat, weapon-stacking and alchemy - that will keep you engaged.

Of course, if you choose to look behind the curtain you will find that the great and powerful Oz has a whole lot of issues. While I loved the sidequests, the main quest is not all that great. That wouldn't be too much of a problem except that the game assumes you will do what you are told, and you can expect to see more than a couple broken quests and broken dialogues if you play using what I call 'the tangential method'. By that I mean that one interesting side quest leads to another and another and pretty soon you've eliminated a whole faction - but returning to the main quest-giver has them asking you to speak to that person, and rather than saying 'um ... I killed him and all of his friends' you ask where he is and some other details. Speaking of ... well, speaking ... the written dialogue is stilted and stiff, even excusing the middle-English usage. None of it flows all that well but listening to the actors speak the lines gives them a whole new dimension of bad. I generally muted the sound or removed my headphones as simply reading it was much less painful than the combination of sound and text. In terms of combat balance I would characterize my progression through the game as follows: early on I died in pitched battles with slugs and kittens; mid-game I defeated small clusters of monsters and lived to die when ganged up on by a dozen or more; late in the game I could defeat top-level dragons with a single time-effect spell without breaking my stride. In other words, even with the latest patch, the balance is crappy.

Yet in spite of these, Two Worlds is a game that was a joy to play and that I have gone back to repeatedly - it is just plain fun. There are plenty more negative things I could list out - especially if you are playing this on the XBOX360, which suffers through poor framerates and laggy multiplayer. In fact, the less said about the multiplayer in general, the better. Ultimately this game has plenty of positive and negative elements and whether or not you like it depends on how much you buy in to the positives - and how well you can ignore the negatives. It holds up poorly to critical scrutiny due to the many elements that compare badly with those from games that obviously influenced Two Worlds. Yet once you figure out how to ride a horse, how to control spells and how to manage combat this becomes a fun game that holds many hours of interesting encounters. As of the 1.5 patch - the release version for the XBOX360 and much of the English-speaking world - the game is stable and relatively bug-free. It is not an easy recommendation - unless you were able to enjoy Dungeon Lords despite the flaws I would recommend caution and waiting for a bargain price.

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