Graphics:
6.9
Gameplay:
7.7
Sound:
7.2
Control:
7.5
Replay Value:
7.5
Overall Rating:
7.4
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
SouthPeak Games
Developer:
TopWare Interactive
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG


The first was technically sloppy and a massive chore to play. The sequel is technically sloppy and actually quite fun for role-playing aficionados. That is the single biggest difference between the two titles in question; while some of the technical issues will make you cringe, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time enjoying a decent combat mechanic, a ridiculous amount of side-questing and treasure hunting, and fiddling with raw materials to create better items and equipment. There are still a few control and camera problems and the story and characters aren’t exactly memorable, but the strength of Two Worlds II revolves almost exclusively around the questing, customizing, building, and battling aspects. It still can’t be considered a top-quality production due to a host of glaring issues, but RPG fans might not care too much; there's lots to like.

As you could’ve guessed from the opening line, the graphics aren’t a strong point in this improved sequel. Oddly enough, the gameplay visuals are actually more stable and pleasing than the in-game cut-scene cinematics, which are shaky, unpolished, and sometimes even laughable. Pop-in, clipping, anti-aliasing and just about any other technical misgiving you can imagine can be spotted in the herky-jerky cut-scenes, and the syncing of voices to mouth movements is about as bad as you’ll see. But even so, exploring the landscape is cool because there’s a huge variety of locales, a lot of different NPCs and enemies, and some of the vistas are really quite beautiful. The frame rate isn’t terrible, either; we don’t get much of that jerkiness we get in the cut-scenes, and overall detail, environmental design, and artistry is impressive in some areas. Hence, it’s a virtual visual dichotomy between interactive and non-interactive graphical presentations.

One graphical side note- the actual CGI; the cinemas and not the in-game cut-scenes, are damn good. I should mention this.

The sound is less hit or miss and more stable, as it’s helped along by a fitting, sweeping score and a lot of sound effects that serve to bolster combat immersion. Unfortunately, much of the voice acting is mediocre at best, which only makes the aforementioned cut-scenes even more painful. But there are a few decently voiced characters and when wandering about, the combination of good music and solid effects makes the experience an enjoyable one. There’s a definite balance issue as one aspect will often override the other, but this is just another technical fault that we have to accept. As I noted before, as we spend so much time out and about, most of the sound problems aren’t prominent; in fact, when they pop up, you’re not accustomed to the drawbacks. As a result, it can be a little jarring… But despite the iffy voices and screwy balance, the soundtrack and effects save the day.

Let’s get the story foundation out of the way, because believe it or not, it just doesn’t matter much- we once again find ourselves in the land of Antaloor and the evil wizard Gandohar is causing all sorts of trouble. You come to learn more about the villainous mage as time progresses but your sister – who should be a bigger part of the story, but isn’t – just sort of gets things going. The best part of the story is told through those really sweet CGI sequences (that make the in-game cut-scenes even more ludicrous by comparison) and the books you find during your travels. They often contain some very well-written stories and notes that focus on the lore of Antaloor (rhyme!), and it’s clear the developers took a great deal of time to produce such pieces. Much appreciated. But hey, this also falls into the realm of exploration and gameplay rather than anything technical or story-related, which only drives the following point home:

The gameplay is absolutely paramount and quite possibly the only reason to play and enjoy this title. And you know, there’s nothing wrong with that, despite the fact that I would expect a great plot and characters when I indulge in an RPG. The instant you start filling up your inventory with weapons you can’t yet use, tomes that require your attention, and raw materials that can be used for God knows what, you will become immersed in a deep, fulfilling role-playing experience that rewards the patient, the meticulous, and the prepared. Skill books will unlock whole new skill trees and if you decide to focus on being a mage, you’ll have to dive into one of the best spell-making customization systems yet. There are various schools of magic based on elements (fire, air, earth, etc.) and by using raw ingredients and toying around with modifiers, you can create unique spells. You can even name ‘em.

Being someone who typically likes to be a magician in RPGs, I loved this. I’d spend a silly amount of time experimenting; seeing what I might be able to make, given the materials at my disposal. And let’s not forget that you can utilize your collected raw materials for other creations that could prove beneficial. For instance, you can make your own potions, disassemble weapons and use the pieces to upgrade your armor, and you can do it all on the go. You don’t need to find a town and a certain citizen who will perform all these duties for a fee; you simply enter the menu and go at it. It reminds me a lot of spending many hours with the Synthesis system in Star Ocean: The 2nd Story ; some may find it tedious, but I’ve always liked these mechanics, provided I have some direction and I’m not just fumbling in the dark. Combat, which consists of standard real-time controls and the ability to block, counter, and execute a block-breaking maneuver, also works well.

It’s great that depending on your chosen path – Warrior, Mage, Ranger – the experience changes significantly, and you always feel as if there’s plenty of depth and potential to accommodate your play style. For the record, you don’t pick a class when you start; you simply choose to earn skills and bolster particular aspects of your character. This means you have full control over how your hero advances in terms of skill and ability, and that’s easily the best part of Two Worlds II . Now, I know I’m gushing a little but it isn’t all roses; we do have some significant issues to mention. Firstly, the camera doesn’t always keep up with the action, and I imagine those who engage in melee encounters more often than I would have some problems. Secondly, because you often find yourself in tight, contained areas, the enemies sometimes don’t fit, and all sorts of comedy ensues.

The AI isn’t very good, so many foes can get stuck behind a wall or a rock, leaving them vulnerable to your attack, but it’s obvious that various creatures respond and react differently. At least that’s a nice touch. But those tight areas can make the camera go absolutely bonkers, and I have no idea why they forced you to draw your weapon each and every time. And while you can customize different weapon sets, some confrontations can be far too urgent and challenging; switching those weapon sets might be a deadly proposition. But once you get into a rhythm and you become accustomed to the eccentricities, you really begin to let the game envelop you; everything from the item/equipment building to the exploration to the general character growth is absolutely satisfying and well implemented. Plus, the sheer size and scope of the world and the total amount of gameplay is more than acceptable.

Two Worlds II takes a big step in the right direction. They’ve still got to catch up to the rest of the development world when it comes to technical elements, and a better story with more interesting characters would vault this franchise into the 8+ realm. Heck, if they really ironed things out and gave us a Mass Effect 2 -like story, we’re looking at an elite 9+ possibility. As is, the big, immersive world, gameplay depth, freedom and customization, sweet upgrade and creation mechanics, and an overall solid combat mechanic makes the game quite appealing. You just have to deal with some shoddy visuals, a slightly unstable camera, and few other small quirks. If you’re willing to overlook some of the flaws, I do recommend that you give it a try; you might be pleasantly surprised. If you’re more anal…well, you’ll find fault everywhere. You shouldn’t be too picky, though.

The Good: Decent music and sound effects. Huge world with plenty of stuff to do. Enjoyable combat. Great, unique weapon upgrade and spell creation systems. Lots of variety. Diverse enemy actions and reactions.

The Bad: A host of graphical and presentation issues. Sound balance problems. Ho-hum story and characters. Iffy camera and somewhat loose control.

The Ugly: “…that’s five different technical glitches in ten seconds worth of cut-scene…a new record.”

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CrusaderForever
CrusaderForever
10 years ago

Very nice review! I really want to get this game. I just cannot right now. Just bought DS2 and ME2. I love that this game has COOP! Who knows, maybe they will patch it and fix a lot of the problems. I will pick it up later on this year.

oONewcloudOo
oONewcloudOo
10 years ago

i might get it when it hits the bargin bin i dont think it would take to long for this game to go on sale

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Bargain price for me too, there's too many elite titles this year to go slumming just yet. Thanks for the review Ben, I knew this couldn't be as bad as the poopier sites were saying.

SayWord
SayWord
10 years ago

Ben are you going to review Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Not sure; I'll try.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

What is it?

just2skillf00l
just2skillf00l
10 years ago

Sounds this had a lot more potential in it. Then again the review seemed quite on the positive side minus multiple small hiccups. I might pick this up sometime down the line, sometime very far.

Sr_Dogmeat
Sr_Dogmeat
10 years ago

I have really been enjoying this game, I think it is better than Oblivion in it's execution.

coverton341
coverton341
10 years ago

For all of its technical hiccups, I am really liking this one. Maybe I am just RPG starved.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
10 years ago

Yeah 7.4 is a fair score for this one. I'm really enjoying it, I wish there was more of a story with the co op, but still a fun game both sp an mp. But their is a ton of technical issues holding it back!

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

I am not far enough in game to rate it yet, but I am surprised with all the detailed customization this games offers.

We should do some co-op. I have yet to try that.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
10 years ago

O you bought it? Nice! Yeah we should! My roomates and I have been playing it. It's decently long offers a good hack and slash time. I wouldn't mind starting over with a new character now that I know what to look for and all that!

I guess overall the only thing holding this game back in my mind is the technical issues, otherwise it's a good rpg!

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Agreed. I don't find them to be game killers, and I can look past the issues. The problem for me is the time!

___________
___________
10 years ago

who cares of all the hitches, if its a fun game thats all that matters!
look at fallout 3, no one could play that for 5 minutes without it locking up there console but did that stop it from getting GOTY?
one day the industry will wake up and remember why we play games………. one day!

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

You make a good point, but I seem to recall you slamming other games due to technical issues.

Get consistent.

Beamboom
Beamboom
10 years ago

I'll definitely wait for the price drop, but look forward to that day! Nice review too, as always.

There's just one thing that remain unclear to me: I am pretty sure I read somewhere a complaint about the coop mission being very linear? Is the coop mission very restricted or differ a lot from the regular solo play?


Last edited by Beamboom on 2/9/2011 4:04:16 AM

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Finally, wahoo! I have been waiting for this and what I have read is perfectly wonderful to me. This is my favorite type of game to play and graphical glitches mean about as much to me as squat and diddly.

I am so excited to get this game now. I love crafting and huge open worlds and making my own character through skill set leveling systems.

I wish it had a better story, wish it didn't have so many issues, but I would rather have great gameplay and leveling mechanics than graphics any day. This sounds like the game for me. Thanks Ben.

While ME2, DS2, and the like might be top quality production, they just aren't my kind of set up. So I'm probably the only person around who's more excited for Two Worlds II than the top quality games.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Excellent point Kraygen. ME2 may have more polish, but I am enjoying TW2 a lot more to the era it is set in.

I am over gun related singleplayer games, well, at least until Killzone 3 and PS Move!!

Roach721
Roach721
10 years ago

Redboxes are renting this game for 2 dollars every 24 hours,good deal for rental I thought.Red Boxes are starting to rent video games now ,great deal

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Red boxes are renting video games now? Say what? This may be the answer I have been looking for, $2 bucks for 24 hours, I can play for several hours straight then return, awesomeness.

Edit: This is terrible, just checked and no redbox near me does this. =(


Last edited by kraygen on 2/9/2011 7:58:50 AM

Roach721
Roach721
10 years ago

Redboxes are renting this game for 2 dollars every 24 hours,good deal for rental I thought.Red Boxes are starting to rent video games now ,great deal

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
10 years ago

Redbox is nice and all, just too bad that a majority of the stuff I've gotten out of those boxes has been too scratched to be of any use.

OverBerg
OverBerg
10 years ago

Looks like it could be a fun game and a 7.4 is not that bad of a score. I might pick this up at some point due to the co-op, but right now all I want is the new Dragon Age.

Lairfan
Lairfan
10 years ago

Sounds interesting, I love me some customization! I might have to rent this sometime in the future, after all the big releases for this year are out of the way.

Rogueagent01
Rogueagent01
10 years ago

I had already planned on getting this game regardless of reviews and am happy to see a pretty positive review here. When you likened it to Star Ocean: The Second Story I almost fainted as it is still to this day my all time favorite RPG. I also played and loved Sacred 2: Fallen Angel and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion which is making me think I am going to play this game for quite awhile.

Good review Ben.

kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Update: I am loving this game, fair review, but well worth the purchase. I'm enjoying it more than oblivion.

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