The following is taken from the popular cookbook: “Bake Your Way to Gaming Mediocrity”
“Take a dash of Fable, a dollop of Elder Scrolls, three pinches of Tolkien lore and mix well. Once the mixture is soft, fold in some grade school amateur dramatics and several spoonfuls of horrible AI, at this point allow setting and sprinkling over a generous amount of glitches.
It should now be ready for baking so pop it into a 20 by 20 disc and bake at an unrealistically low expectation for two years. By 2011 your Two Worlds II should be ready to consume.”
[boxout]It takes a brave developer to go up against Bethesda and Bioware, especially at their own game, but Two Worlds was just such a game and in 2009 it challenged these developing behemoths and subsequently damaged its own franchise by majorly disappointing on all fronts. Two Worlds was a shoddy PC port that was bereft of atmosphere, coherent gameplay or enjoyment. Two Worlds II is now upon us and it aims to cleave any doubts about the ailing franchise into tiny pieces and then feed them to some orcs.
Two Worlds II is set in the mystical land of Narnia, Mordor, Albion Antaloor, a land of diverse topographical features including lakes, jungles, deserts as well as the usual castle/dungeon affairs. In terms of setting TW2 presents a wide range of excellent looking environments but doesn’t stray too far from the standard fantastical fodder.
The plot is similarly unambitious, involving the usual array of Orcs, Wizards and Knights. The main goal of the game is to rescue your sister from the evil wizard Gandohar and, whilst this is a perfectly apt scenario for any role playing game, it does nothing to pique any real interest or intrigue from players.
Characters are equally vacuous, acting as nothing more than generally empty vessels for disembodied voices. The vocal actors do their darndest to make some of the dialogue passable but the majority is unbearably campy and tortuously clichéd throughout. All this only serves to disenfranchise the player and further ruin the escapist nature of such a game.
Luckily though, Two Worlds II does have a rather unique selling point: the class system. Rather than assigning specific and solitary classes such as mage, archer or warrior like in most fantasy epics, TW2 allows users to upgrade their character with the abilities of all three. The character has three separate identities or modes and these can be switched to at will at any point in combat. It’s seamless and a very attractive aspect for any player unsure of their favored or best mode of attack. Players can use a combination of attacks in one mode, switch and finish off an enemy with another. Players can assign different weapons, attire and upgrades to each mode and in many ways it feels just like having three separate characters at once.
When players begin a new game, the first screen they will be presented with is the character creation screen. Much like other games in the genre, players will have a variety of different choices when creating their hero or heroine. The choices available are nothing startling new, players can change clothes, face, body, hair, gender and name. Some of the more modern variations did seem out of place such as the inclusion of designer stubble and emo-esque hairstyles but it’s nothing that brings down the enjoyment of the title.
Players familiar with the roleplaying genre will feel right at home with the gameplay mechanics on show. Moving with the analogue stick your character can also jump, sprint, sneak, attack, guard, and interact all with various button pushes. It’s not a new system, nor is it revolutionary but it works and, for the most part, the up close combat is satisfyingly fluid. Players can also switch between their various character modes with the punch of a button and doing so will be key if they’re to vanquish the huge roster of beasts, monsters and enemies on show.
This genre is not all about fisticuffs, however, and an awful lot of the appeal in TW2 comes simply from the interactions. There are plenty of folk to talk to, perform side quests for and just generally discuss things with. Of course with the interaction and quests comes the dialogue tree system which features in many more ‘popular’ titles. Players are given a variety of set responses and questions which they can choose to wield like the metaphorical swords that they are. Then there are the choices!
Morals and choices are now an almost unavoidable feature of role playing games and the good vs. evil choices are also a feature of TW2. This is a feature that really does act as a double edged sword within the game. (Note: There is no morality double edged sword available in the game) The morality choices within conversations and quests are nowhere near as varied, accurate or consequential as the likes of the Fable or Fallout series’. However one nice aspect of these choices are that they aren’t as black and white as other titles. This adds a dimension of real choice and players can often see some very interesting results from their various decisions.