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October 12th, 2010, 09:22
I just finished Two Worlds last night after picking it up at gog.com for 6 bucks. Definitely more than worth it, although the ending was extremely anti-climactic. I also had to force myself to finish it towards the end because I found myself losing interest once I reached god-like status (although I did enjoy being that powerful for quite a while because I know how wimpy I was through much of the beginning of the game).

The production values are very poor, and unfortunately the game opens with a drawn-out cut-scene that shows off its mediocrity in all its glory (which probably ruined the first impression for a lot of folks). But if you expect that going in and didn't pay top dollar, no biggie.

The dialog gets knocked a lot, but I didn't mind. Since the olde-english was used consistently throughout the game, I easily accepted it as the speech that's used in another world. Besides, I'm not going to complain about dialog when my favorite games growing up consisted of "Name, Job, Bye."

Combat is pretty much a click-fest, with the only strategy consisting of when to hit 'Q' to do a back-jump when the hard-hitting foes choreograph their coming blows. Definitely not its strongest point (although I didn't use archery or combat magic very much).

I found the loot system sucked me in pretty good once I figured out that most armor belongs to a set, and that you get a significant boost to all defenses when you've completed a set. Unfortunately the implementation of this was poor, as the only way to tell if something is part of a set was to look at its "Set Value" stat. But between looking for the ultimate armor and weapons (both stats-wise and looks-wise), and then trying to upgrade my stuff over time, I admit I got drawn into a loot hunt pretty good.

The game's strengths are its numerous side quests, and its exploration (at least for me). I'm such a sucker for any game that has a huge world map that's all grayed out and ready to explore, and this game proved no exception. I really liked the feeling of trotting down a road on my horse, slowing down as I approached a walled village, and slowly walking in on my horse as the gates open for me. As I talk to the guard from horseback to get a lay of the land, it just really nails the atmosphere of a travelling mercenary riding in to a new town to see what adventures folks have in store.

The numerous side quests provide plenty to do, and although most of them are nothing more than excuses to go explore another part of the map, that's usually good enough for me. The most interesting aspect is that many side quests have multiple linked parts, and you never know what tangents some seemingly-innocuous quests will lead you to.

Other pluses: Very nice fast-travel system, and great, great music. I found myself teleporting to one of the big cities fairly often to check out shop-keepers stock, mainly because I had a couple favorite tracks that were only played in cities, and I found myself craving those tunes as they continued playing in my head long after I'd shut the computer down.

I don't know what kind of game Two Worlds was when it first came out, but right now it's a very decent action RPG and I see no reason why any open-world RPG fan shouldn't buy it at a hugely-discounted price and see if it sucks you in. If it does, great, if not, then no biggie. I'm looking forward to seeing what the developers can do for an encore performance…

One suggestion if you do pick it up: Play on Hard. The game gets pretty easy after a while, but I find this is mitigated somewhat if you struggle to get to that point. Plus the death system on normal simply resurrects you at the nearest shrine with no penalty, so in practical terms you can simply throw yourself at a foe and die as many times as it takes to kill him. I find it provided a much more tense environment when I had to reload when I died (which is how death works on Hard).
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