|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Reality Pump / TopWare Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SouthPeak Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: October 5, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
February 8, 2010 - Making a splash in the roleplaying genre isn't an easy thing to do. You have your behemoths (Square Enix, BioWare, Bethesda, etc.) and then you have everybody else. Once a developer has established a reputation, gamers tend to be fiercely loyal and come out for every release. For those that are still trying to carve out a piece of the RPG pie and get noticed, or worse, have a less than stellar reputation, it is a particularly daunting task. And that is right where developer Reality Pump is with their upcoming release of the high fantasy RPG Two Worlds II for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
The first Two Worlds came out in mid 2007 to fairly ho-hum reviews, albeit doing better with its PC version than console release. Gameplay was reminiscent of the open-world style of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion where the main quest was optional and freedom to explore paramount. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out as envisioned and Two Worlds was considered a disappointment, failing to make a splash in the genre. According to Reality Pump, they have both acknowledged and learned from their mistakes and are set to make Two Worlds II a game to be remembered.
Chief among the changes gamers can look forward to is a revamped combat engine intended to bring more action and excitement to battles reminiscent of a hack and slash experience. Combo attacks are a new addition as well as new blocking mechanics, adding a flair for the defensive-minded. For those that prefer to burn enemies with a fireball, magic is also customizable. Using what has been dubbed the DEMONS system magic cards can be combined to create unique spells suiting whatever aims a player envisions for his character.
Factions are making a return, with a greater emphasis being placed on integrating the actions within the factions into the rest of the game world. It won't be possible to do every quest in the game on the first go through - helping one faction will drive another against you, in effect closing doors in order to step through others. There are five factions within the game, three of which are "official" and simple to join, the other two reclusive and will require some digging.
Another significant change that has been let loose in interviews is the decision to get rid of the Old English dialogue many found distracting or unintentionally comical to better preserve the mood. While speech cluttered with "thee, thy, and thou" and their more obscure literary cousins, a bit more straight forward conversation has been regarded as a critical change for the series. Hand in hand with the revamped presentation, Reality Pump has changed up their writing team to better present quests and the overarching narrative. The goal is that using writers with experience translating story to the gaming medium will result in a more cohesive and flowing experience.
One thing that will be returning is the classless leveling system, again something akin to that found in Oblivion's open model of character progression. The classless system is something of a 'love it or hate it' for many gamers depending on the amount of freedom preferred. But, as is the M.O. of Two Worlds II, freedom from restraining handcuffs (such as being resigned to a character class or forced to follow a linear story) is central to design decisions.
Graphically, Two Worlds II will be using the GRACE engine while being designed from the beginning for consoles instead of being put together as a hastily done port. It shouldn't be surprising to hear the makers of a game boast its features, but the creators of Two Worlds II have been particularly vocal of the game's graphical might. True, the screenshots released so far have been promising, but it's hard to fairly judge how it looks in action and what nuances impress or disappoint until we have a final build in our hands.
The most notable thing Reality Pump is still quiet on is multiplayer, but they are hinting at big things. When you're calling your title the "closest to a console MMO" people will be expecting a lot. Time will tell whether it is delivered or not.
Two Worlds II looks to have a lot going for it, chiefly the admission of the errors found in the original. Graphically things look strong, but the key for any RPG is how well it can immerse you in its world and make you care about its residents. That will ultimately be the final verdict. Can Two Worlds grab hold of RPG gamers who already have several premium options available, or will it end up by the wayside of countless others unable to successfully merge vision and innovation with captivating gameplay? With a pending June 29 release date, we will soon find out.
CCC Freelance Writer