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Two Worlds II Review

10 February 2011

Let me set the record straight right away. Reality Pump’s Two Worlds II is a fundamentally broken game. The controls are flawed, the story is virtually nonexistent, the graphics are a generation too old, and the game is riddled with bugs. Yet despite the in-your-face problems, the game is addicting. Of course, that could be because the market is thirsty for a good open-world action-RPG, or it may be so addicting because every once in a while we get the urge to spend countless hours leveling up a faceless character, crawling through dungeons, and looking for the most elite loot. After the addiction wears off, and you notice you’ve spent the last three hours questing, you may take a break and try and remember what you are doing this for. We don’t mean why you are playing the game, but what the heck your character is trying to accomplish; what was that big overall mission.

The game looks mildly sharp. There are some glitzy moments where you can really appreciate the detailed shadowing effects, but when that shine decays you’ll quickly notice the ugly graphics. Just because a game has poor graphics doesn’t make it a bad game, but in regards to Two Worlds II, the lame character models and lack of scenery details draws attention away from the action. That’s not to say the action is really intriguing, but it has its entertaining moments. Sadly, the animations are worse than the actual graphics. Nothing looks natural, especially in regards to combat. Enemies move so rigidly that you would think every opponent was a skeleton. All the characters look the same, and if you are expecting to see lips move during dialogue, it’s best you look elsewhere.

There is very little story to be found in Two Worlds II, for better or worse. Just like we said about the graphics, the lack of a decent narrative doesn’t necessarily make a game bad, but in a RPG, you sort of need to care about your character’s mission. What's present is basic: a big bad wizard has your sister, and you have to go get her. The Orcs rescue you, and luckily there is a nice bit of peace between humans and Orcs. It is a typical fantasy story, but it lacks interesting characters, compelling sub-plots, or just a general reason why we should care. After several hours into the game, we actually forgot our main objective.

The voice acting is pretty terrible, but what’s worse is that the game is so bugged that you’ll miss important conversations because the sound will just completely cut out. Sometimes your character will talk to someone, but the person you are speaking with decides not respond. Actually, that’s not true; the character will respond but you won’t get to hear what they said and the game moves on. There's a bit of good news in the sound department: the music is pretty good. It’s varied, lively, entertaining, and overall quite pleasant.

Controlling your would-be hero comes with its shares of difficulties. The biggest gripe we have in the controls department is that there are too many actions assigned to the same button. For some reason L2 controls about half of your actions — sprinting, blocking, making your horse run, aiming your bow, and moving stealthily. Your actions here depend on whether you have a weapon drawn, and if you are moving or standing still. The game probably controls well on a PC, but that doesn’t mean anything for the PlayStation 3 version. Your character also has a tendency to go a little beyond what you command. For instance, if you want to walk up to a shopkeeper, make sure you stop well short as to not walk into him and thus draw attention of the guards.

Maybe it’s because the controls are so poor, or maybe it’s because the game is just flawed, but death comes too easily. We say that not to imply that Two Worlds II is a hard game, but you just die pointlessly. Demon's Souls was a good old hard game, and we loved it for that very reason. Two Worlds II is hard because it’s difficult to control your annoying character, it’s hard to understand your weapon and armor stats, and the game is pretty unresponsive. One word of advice to anyone picking up this game — save very, very frequently.

OK — that’s what's wrong with Two Worlds II. Earlier in this review we mentioned the game has an addictive quality. It stems from the looting system, which is definitely interesting. You have the ability to break down just about anything in your inventory into its core components. You can break a shield down into wood and steel, or a staff down into some magical components. With those core elements, you can enhance your gear, or even add jewel slots. Once you start to earn some steady cash, you’ll likely break down all of your loot to enhance your epic gear. You can brew your own potions, too; custom recipes are encouraged. Similarly, the spell system is fairly interesting. It’s a card system based on elements. You can augment your spells with cards, making them offensive, defensive, or area effects. All of this stuff is for the true RPG fan. It’s all part of that leveling system, that character involvement that only the best RPGs can capture.

While game's opening hours are absolutely dreadful, it eventually begins to become enjoyable. You won’t really care about your character — the fact he sounds like batman is more annoying than amusing — but Reality Pump got a few things right. If you are a fan of RPGs, you’ll probably start to enjoy this game the further you progress. For instance, you have three weapons/armor slots that you can change by pressing left, up, or right on the D-pad. This essentially allows you to play three different characters at once. You can line up all your mage gear and skills to the up button so when you are fighting a group of baddies, you can torch them with some nice fire spells. Similarly, you can assign all your ranger-like skills to right or left so you can slowly pick off enemies from afar. Then, when they charge you, all you have to do is press another button to pull up your standard warrior’s sword and shield.

Moving across the massive open landscape is easy through teleports. You can ride mounts, but that’s more trouble than it’s worth; teleporting is where it’s at. You just need to be outside to use your teleportation stone, meaning traveling only gets easier the more teleport stations you discover.

For the first couple hours, we couldn’t figure out the lock-picking mini-game. That’s partially because we didn’t put much time into it, but it turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the game. It’s as simple as pressing R2 (there you go with that poor button mapping) to drop your pick into an empty space, and continuing to do so until you get your pick through all layers. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, and if you aren’t into a mini-game like this you can try your luck at the auto-lock picking.

Another part of the game that Reality Pump got right is the multiplayer modes. You can play online in PVP matches and various co-op missions, but you’ll need to start a new character to do so. The co-op comes along with its own story, too. You can play with up to eight real-life players, but it’s all the same mechanics. So, if you enjoy playing through the single-player campaign, you’ll get even more life out of the multiplayer.

Two Worlds II is ultimately a flawed but curiously addicting experience. The more we played the game, the more we liked it. We actually got to the point where we were excited for the next quest. We weren't anticipating the next nonsensical plot point, because we really could care less, but we were hopeful for cool loot to break down or new magic cards. If you can get past the shoddy graphics, poor controls, and dreadful voice acting, you may just find yourself swept away in this enormous open-world RPG. Reality Pump was very close to creating a good game with Two Worlds II, and if it can fix some of these core problems, we could see a truly entertaining game in a sequel. 

-The Final Word-

Two Worlds II is one of the most broken games that we actually enjoyed. There are heaps of problems, including shoddy controls, dreadful graphics, stiff animations, and atrocious voice acting, but RPG buffs will enjoy the addicting loot system and superb character development.
  • The ability to break down and modify loot
  • The superb spell creation system
  • The neat lock-picking mini-game
  • Lousy graphics, animations, and voice acting
  • Unresponsive controls and poor button mapping
  • The utterly pointless story
6.0
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