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If you’re determined to enjoy Two Worlds II you’ll need superhuman pain tolerance and more free time than recess at Immortal Elementary. Like most RPGs released these days, TWII requires almost 50 hours to beat the campaign (there’s multiplayer too). But Two Worlds II isn’t just huge; it has a learning curve that’s more like a cliff, and a tendency to explain absolutely nothing to players.
In fact, it seems you can go through most the game without learning seemingly pivotal aspects of TWII, like the fact that there’s a stellar online mode, or how to use the ridiculously robust spell creation, or that “Soul Patchers” reallocate your skill points, or that the spiky dude you’re running away from is the evil emperor, or that the screaming chick in your brain is your sister, etc, etc, ad infinitum. In fact, this is the first game in recent memory where reading the game manual is absolutely necessary.
But complexity isn’t reason enough to thrash on a game. Horrendous glitches that plague the game, on the other hand… when you start the game and can’t read half the words onscreen, and have to fiddle with bewildering settings just to read what your armor does, that’s a problem. As for the unleveled dialogue audio, have a remote nearby for quick volume adjustments. When you run diagonally on a hill and randomly incur huge fall damage and instantly die, well, there’s not really a fix for that. Save lots, we guess.
There are also more than a few equally obnoxious design choices. Why, for instance, does your character’s voice sound like Christian Bale in Batman? Why is nearly everything marked by a blue pin on your map, be it NPC, a city, or a quest? Why does the inventory page not tell you what’s equipped in various weapon sets (making it ridiculously easy to accidentally disassemble important weapons for their elemental scraps)?
These are questions without answers, but if you’re still playing after about eight hours, you’ll probably be too busy racing horses, completing dozens of guild quests, or even sailing to care much about the problems. Oblivion-lovers take note: Two Worlds takes more than a few cards from Bethesda’s deck. In fact, the gorgeous and enormous world feels like it might have been pulled straight from Bethesda’s five-year old RPG. Two Worlds implements teleports instead of fast travel, so each of its islands feels absolutely enormous, but luckily your character runs fast, his horse runs even faster, and missions are designed to minimize too much running back and forth.
Combat, too, feels like it was pulled from Oblivion, but it feels soft and has some instances of awfully questionable hit detection. A long two-handed weapon alleviates the problem, but heavy fighting sections like the arena make mediocre combat seem especially painful. You can defeat vastly superior enemies by running around until they get stuck on something, where you can pick them off with a bow. Though this rarely works in open fields where you’ll encounter ridiculously powerful giant ants or baboons that throw their poop at you - combat is just one more thing that needed polish.
That seems to be the case with most parts of Two Worlds II. Though there’s a lot to love and a rich world to invest yourself in, it’ll require more than a little forgiving on your part. Unfortunately, TWII would have benefited hugely from a few more months of developing, and it might still just be a few updates away from becoming something worthy of a better score. Until then, we suspect Two Worlds will create two of its own, one of lovers and one of haters.
Feb 3, 2011