Hey folks, Valkor here. During E3 2010, I had the chance to play a game I thought wouldn't make it to stores shelves, let alone my hands. The hit detection was weak, it wasn't the sharpest game of the bunch, and to sum it all up, I wasn't at all impressed. But here we are in 2011 and out on store shelves now is just that game, which is in fact in my Playstation 3. Now that it's finished, can SouthPeak's RPG "Two Worlds II" survive in the Val-cave, or will is it destined for the trash bin? Let's find out!
Two Worlds II is an open world RPG, where you play as the main character heavily involved in a twisted plot to dethrone Gandohar - an evil wizard who's not only looking for total domination, but he also has your sister as prisoner! When the game opens, your in his jail, but a group of Orcs, step in to pull your ass out of the fire. Now you must journey through the land of Antaloor to not only gather information on Ghandohar and but also learn more of his plot. You'll also earn the trust of several factions strewn throughout the land, make new friends, gain new enemies, all building up to that one final confrontation.
But before you dive into the story, you must first design your character, which you'll see even during the cinematics (boss!). However the character creation process is pretty extensive, so it will take some time until you have the character that's just right for you. As a base you can be either a human, an elf, dark elf, or a dwarf (each with the option to be male or female). Once you've created your character, then it's go time!
Controls for the game are pretty easy to master, and this is going by the PS3 version. For the most part the left analog is for movement and the right adjusts the camera. The X button is used to jump or to speak with other characters (those that you can speak to anyway), the other three buttons can be assigned for other uses such as the use of items or special weapons like traps and bombs. The right trigger button attacks, while the left trigger is used to block, sneak, or run. To arm or disarm a weapon you simply press down on the D-pad. Finally you press the select button to access the inventory menu where you can equip weapons, armor, jewels, access your skills tree when you level up, access your items, alchemy items, magic cards and spells.
In Two Worlds II, there's no class assignment from the start. If you want to be a warrior, you can focus on warrior skills and obtaining warrior weapons. Same goes if you want to be a mage, or a thief; it's the ability to choose as you progress through the game that makes this game so unique. And hey, if you want to dabble into everything, so be it! The option is there. You can change weapons on the fly, plus the game lets you assign different sets of clothing for the classes you like the most. Want to be a warrior as well as a dark Necromancer? You can do that! There really is no limit to who you can be in this game.
But the big deal about Two Worlds II stems from its ability to deconstruct almost any item you find in the game, and turn it into something else, or combine certain items to reinforce other items. In other words, what used to be trash is now treasure! For starters there's alchemy, which allows you to use the items that you loot from monsters or find on the ground and turn them into potions that will buff you up such as increase strength, endurance, or accuracy. You can also create potions that will increase resistance to elemental attacks and poisons. I found one that will raise you from the dead with most of your health, or another that will convert damage into mana loss, so you don't lose health.
Next is weapon/armor reinforcement. Like most RPGs, as you traverse the lands or finish quests, you gain armor and weapons, most of which you can't use because it's either too weak or not in the class your training. Usually you sell it off for money, but in Two Worlds II, you have the option to sell the items you find, or you can break it down to its lesser parts, applying those parts onto weapons and armor making them stronger. At certain points during reinforcement, slots will open up so that you can apply crystals that will increase attributes, or give your weapon elemental abilities.
Finally, for those that like to play with magic, you have a magic system where you can combine spells, creating entirely new ones. This is called the DEMONS system. This is where you take all those cards you find and apply them towards a new spell. Wanna whip up a fiery hurricane or a barrier that not only protects but also inflicts damage? Then so be it! I will admit, I haven't dabbled too much with it, because I've enjoyed the game being a warrior/thief, but for my next round of play, I'll definitely give it a try.
So now that we know a little about this massive game, let's jump into the TOV Breakdown, so that we have a better understanding of what all this means and how it applies to the player.
To Sum up Two Worlds II in just one word, I would have to go with: Fun! First, a lot of my initial impressions, which were mostly negative, still stand, tossing in a few new objections. But for the most part I really enjoyed playing Two Worlds II. The story, while it's almost all over the place, does come together nicely, not leaving behind too many loose ends. If you were to simply play through the game, without embarking on any of the extracurricular missions, then it would be a quick journey. But it's the missions that really give the impression that your actively involved in this world. It's not just "do this or do that", but you're actually given a choice, especially if you grow tired of just running around. Take for instance, there's a mission where I was asked to kill a witch because it's suspected that her being there is forcing the people in this city to live behind a barrier wall, one where they cannot leave... ever. I go to confront this witch, but she tells me she's not the bad guy (or gal), the priest is! So now the game gives me the choice – do I kill the witch or take her side? Man, that's heavy! The game itself isn't overly difficult and I rarely had to face the "retry/load" screen too often. The game itself does an excellent job of autosaving, though I'd still save whenever possible. Graphically, Tow Worlds II has some beautiful backdrops, even though the game does this deepfocus thing where the background is blurred and everything in the immediate area, where you're standing, is crystal clear. Music is typical cinematic fare, where it changes based on the situation, and it helps immerse you into the game. Finally, though things may seem overwhelming (hell even the instruction manual is pretty hefty), the overall game is actually quite simple, easy to follow, and even easier to get into. So with that I say to the developers "nice job".
Ok, so most of my initial objections still stand. While the hit detection has been fixed somewhat, things still seem a bit off. At times I'll be standing directly in front of a monster that's wide open, but when I swing… nothin! It's cool that the monsters in this world have some smarts like they attack, flee, or guard when necessary. But if they're just standing there, not doing anything and I start swinging, but nothing happens, then you have one unhappy Val. Also you're attacks still have that feeling of floatiness - they carry no weight. It's not as excruxiating like when I first played the game, but the feeling is still there. Next there's a lot of breakup in the dialogue, or the music stutters. I can forgive the voice acting because I've heard worse (I'm lookin at you Arcania Gothic 4), but there's way too much break up going on here. And there are times when in mid dialogue, nothing will happen. You have to press the O button to keep it going. With the music, say when you enter a town or exiting a teleport, the music and voices will skip like a broken record until you either exit the town (and maybe go back in) or you just wait for it to settle. The animation gets to be framey at times, and what's worse is when you're facing off against a huge monster, you character is suddenly stuck within that monster character when it dies and you can't move. (Val tip: save and restart, should fix that). Next, the ability to play as a bard should have been removed (at least this style), because the little mini game, where you use press the shoulder buttons in time with the music… awful! And it sucks because there's a mission where you need to play music, but it's difficult to get a song going. Who thought THAT was a good idea? I should have been able to hire one of the bards around town to do it for me! Next, the majority of boxes and chests need lockpicks to open - even the ones that are inside the homes you buy for yourself! However there is one home you buy in Ashos that's stolen, so that's understandable that there are locks on the chests. And to top it off, each box has different levels of difficulty. Does almost EVERY box need to have lockpicks? It's not like there's anything really rewarding inside. I can understand when you, oh say, break into someone's home; sure those chests should have locks; but why the ones in caves or abandoned buildings? You know that really sucks? Because the whole lockpicking process is a mini-game; mess up and the lockpick breaks. When it comes to the more advanced locks, you will lose a lot of lockpicks, which means going back into town, finding someone who has them and then finding the chest again. Eventually you'll make enough money to buy a shitload of lockpicks, so you'll never have to hunt them down again. But it's getting there that's all the work.
Some of the character models are kinda scary. Like Des Mon; he's one of the characters responsible for handing out missions. Actually the missions are posted on a board behind him. When you go the board and then look towards him, he's staring… right… back… at… you… And he'll always follow you with his eyes whenever you go near him. *cringe*
The reaction some of the citizens have when you a) break into their homes and/or b) look through their stuff. Some will yell at you and others will just look at you funny. If you stay too long in a home while the person is yelling at you, they'll call the guards who will suddenly appear and force you to leave.
Even with the laundry list of bad, I was still completely captivated by Two Worlds II. While I have my objections, overall I was thoroughly impressed by its engaging storyline and well entertained throughout. Would I recommend it? Most definitely! Just the fact that you can be anything you wanna be in this world makes it all the more reason to invest in this game. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Two Worlds II 3.5 stars. And it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!