Two Hours With Two Worlds II
I didn't plan to pick up Two Worlds II early - in part because I expected the availability to be an issue but also because I've been a vocal critic of Two Worlds and I have plenty of other games to play. When it popped up unexpectedly at Gamersgate just as I had a day off...well, I guess my impulse control needs some work. At this point I've completed the tutorial and wandered a little of the starting savannah - not nearly enough to form any serious opinion but enough to get a general "feel" for the game. With that in mind, I'm not posting this as a formal article but rather some temporary commentary and whatever you do, go find some more informed opinions before making any purchase decisions.
Two Worlds II is at once much better than the original, slightly disappointing and full of potential. A litany of very minor things colour my experience at this stage but I can also see the potential for a very good - if predictably unpolished - action/RPG.
First off, the script hasn't tempted me to jump off a tall building to escape like the original almost did. The "prithee this" and "thoust that" are gone entirely and while the writing isn't exciting, it's not offensive. Likewise, the voice acting isn't great...but it isn't terrible. The whole cliché backstory of the kidnapped hot sister and the evil lord is still there but the game quickly gets on to a reasonable footing - travel to a major town and find a way to make contact with some resistance members with criminal connections that might have information on Gandohar's background. Investigation is a good premise for an open-world RPG.
The game has been stable and the performance is excellent but there's an obvious lack of detailed polish. The menus and inventory icons look "chunky", the animation lacks "weight", there's a lot of clipping and the in-engine cut-scenes are amateurish. Very early on there's a cut-scene where an ally is about to die but - in Rob Roy style - he grabs the sword of the enemy with one hand and lands a mortal blow with the other. At least, I think that's what happened. In my game, the ally vaguely waved his hand near the sword and suddenly killed the other. Later, a key cut-scene didn't trigger but left me with a black screen and a couple of warthogs on the savannah have promptly sunk beneath the earth and disappeared as my arrow struck.
In addition - for my taste - the potentially great graphics are smeared with too much vaseline from the excessive HDR lighting. And for some reason I can only select "none" or "1x" for antialiasing.
None of this is terribly important to me but it does take the sheen off. Just to be clear, everything works fine if you ignore the guy standing over there with his leg clipped up to the knee.
On the other hand, the first major quest has at least three ways of completion, which is very welcome. The solutions aren't greatly creative but they're solid enough. You can also sense the sheer breadth...horses, boats, crafting, a genuinely interesting magic card system, gambling -- there's obviously a lot to do and I feel the developers genuinely tried to improve the formula.
The starting savannah area lacks the sense of reality you get from the original Gothics - cheetahs, warthogs, baboons, rhinos and ostriches are packed into close proximity - there's no sense of a genuine ecology. On the other hand, the combat is surprisingly fun and much better than the original. You can block and it feels more than just button-mashing.
So, at this stage, I miss the more sophisticated writing and characters I just left behind in Fallout: New Vegas and it certainly feels a little rough around the edges. But the combat is surprisingly addictive and the width of possibilities is enormous. I've seen one German review label it a "masterpiece", which seems ridiculous to me but if the idea of a better Two Worlds is attractive to you, this is worth a look. Just don't expect revolutionary changes to the core concept.
Information aboutTwo Worlds II
SP/MP: Single + MP
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3