Two Worlds II Preview
If you didn’t play Two Worlds, you didn’t miss out on much. This attempt at an epic, sweeping RPG similar to the likes of Oblivion just didn’t cut the mustard and yet somehow, the game managed to move enough copies to warrant a sequel. This isn’t exactly a promising start for a good preview but this is one of those cases where the developer is aware of the initial failure, has worked hard to remedy the mistakes, and feels confident that the sequel will allow the original to ease out of our memories. Also, it should probably be noted that Two Worlds never appeared on the PlayStation 3; it was only available for the Xbox 360 and PC back in 2007. But like I just said…you didn’t miss out on much.
Although I’m not as big a fan of open-ended, Western RPGs, I greatly enjoyed BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins and while I didn’t get a chance to play Fable 2, I remember having a good time with the first title. And so, I’ve been checking around for all the updated information on this sequel, which is starting to win me over. First of all, I should point you in the direction of the IGN preview because it includes great comments from the game’s producer, Scott Cromie. He says “it’s truly a next-gen title” (kinda implying the first one wasn’t), and we are introduced to the entirely new engine, called Grace. It’s a serious upgrade, apparently, and it features all the little refined goodies the first engine didn’t really have, like dynamic lighting, better physics, weather effects, etc. This is a direct result of the greatly beefed up development team; it’s twice the size of the group that worked on the first Two Worlds. They admit the first was basically a direct port of the PC version and it didn’t turn out well; this time, they’re focusing on the console play.
The new engine should be free from pop-up and other glitches, sport much more agreeable load times, and in general, put the entire game on a whole new plateau. Cromie said it’s “a beautiful engine” and he’s “confident this is a triple-A game.” On top of which, he said they’re infusing a “more North American feel” into the sequel; in other words, no more rough translation by Polish team Reality Pump. No, the story in Two Worlds II is being co-written by designers at the US-based publisher TopWare Interactive, so you won’t have this awkward, unfamiliar dialogue that simply doesn’t resonate with the modern public. After all, when it comes to big RPGs like this, we need a well-written and elaborate story and plot; we need characters we can identify with and plenty of intriguing folklore to go along with it. Well, we need that in addition to great gameplay, and this mechanic should certainly resonate with fans of standard WRPGs we’ve seen in the past. In fact, it sounds a lot like Dragon Age, in that it will be real-time with the ability to bring up an in-game menu and pause the action.
The fun part? The publisher claims that if you really want to squeeze every ounce of fun out of this sequel, you’ll burn up around 200 hours! That’s a gigantic amount of time and Cromie adds that the vast, vibrant landscape in Two Worlds II is “so big you have to use a horse,” which quickly reminds us of Assassin’s Creed. Of course, it’s a bad analogy because in those games, it’s just a matter of traversing some in-between regions quickly; for the sequel in question, it seems we’ll need that speedier method of travel far more often. But getting back to the combat for a moment, it’s your expected combination of melee and ranged attacks, complete with abilities and skills that can be learned and mastered, along with a variety of magic and spells. Perhaps most intriguing about this will be the freedom involved: you won’t be tied into one particular class; the characters can switch on a dime between melee attacking and magic, as you can reallocate skill points and even switch your equipment on the fly. They’ll need to streamline all the options for the limited console controller – as they did with Origins – but we imagine it’ll be done well.
Two Worlds II is slated to hit on June 29 in the US and based on everything we’ve seen so far, it appears to be a huge step in the right direction. For those of you who have loved games like Oblivion and Dragon Age, you’ll need a new RPG fix…and this could be it.
2/4/2010 Ben Dutka