After yesterday’s review of BioShock (and having finished it already – too short. Oh well), I’m glad I received my copy of Two Worlds today from EB Games. I’m writing this at about 2:30 am after having played it since 7 pm or so. I guess you can tell already where this is going. You might be a little surprised though; so read on!
I’ll start from the beginning. The game gets off to a very tedious start, you watch an incredibly poorly written dialogue that sets the mood for what is going on (I’m still not quite sure what’s going on, to be honest). After a brief fight with a couple of goblin lookin’ guys, you begin another incredibly tedious conversation then you can start playing as you wish. Generally, you’ll hate the conversations – the voice over work is not very good and very monotone, plus the manner of speaking is unusual – if I hear “perchance” one more time, I’m gonna ace someone! All the text is spoken, but you’ll find yourself clicking through the repetitive ones to get to the buying/selling pages or whatever. While we are on the subject of speech, your character seems to have a mental disorder which makes him talk to himself an awful lot (complaining about the weather, saying Look what I found – in various forms, etc, but he does enjoy telling monsters that they just died and that’s kinda funny). The actual sound effects, swinging swords, movement, rain, etc are all very well done, though. Yes, the dialogue grates a little but I don’t consider that a major issue.
The graphics in Two Worlds are amazing. The grass sways in the wind, clouds cast shadows on the ground, butterflies flit in the breeze, etc. All very nicely done. The change from day to night and back looks gorgeous and looking at scenery in the distance is wonderful. There are some clipping issues – but this doesn’t bug me as much as others. I figure it’s a natural state in video games. The faces could have used a little more work and seem a little flat, and since you spend a lot of conversation time staring at faces, you’ll wish they put a little more time there. Your character’s look will change with each new piece of armour or weapon you put on, which is an awesome touch because you’ll spend an awful lot of time staring at yourself from the back.
The combat is really where the game shines. If you tried to play Oblivion on third person and found out how difficult it was; this game makes that work. The variety of moves is fantastic – each weapon seems to have its own swing pattern to keep things interesting. If swinging around a halberd, hitting 4 baddies with one swing is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!Unlike other RPGs, you do not have to focus on a sword or a mace or a bow. Your character seems equally skilled in all of them and you can trade them out at will – which is good, because you’ll be trading up weapons and armor an awful lot. Do not get too attached to any weapon or armor. From what I’ve seen, it’ll be replaced in less than an hour, sometimes in less than 5 minutes. Same with armor – new stuff is always around the corner. Each humanoid creature that fights with a sword or a shield will drop that item if you kill him; usually RPGs do not do this and its an interesting change. While it does allow you to amass a massive bankroll very quickly, it also makes the game more realistic. A skeleton fights you with a halberd. Kill it and you can have that weapon now. I like that.
But this is where a major gripe (for pack rats, like myself, at least) comes into play. As advice, I suggest you work very hard on completing the teleportal quests early in the game (there are 2 of them in the beginning both relatively easy). If you do not, you’ll find yourself going back into dungeons many times to loot baddies and either sell the stuff or upgrade your character. One dungeon took me 10 trips to loot all the bad guys and get all the new armor and weapons available. While you can carry stuff, your ability is very limited; so unless you complete those teleportal quests, and you enjoy looting dead people, expect a lot of back and forth trips.
Another gripe with the game is that it has an odd way of telling you not to go someplace – by killing you instantly. I’ve found 4 different spots so far that has a creature that kills you with a single hit. After leveling up a few times, that same creature dies like a cockroach. It’s a very odd situation, that I don’t quite understand yet. It’s a good thing, though, that death is a natural part of life in the game and carries no real penalty – you get resurrected instantly a little distance away with all your gear in tact. While that takes away a little of the danger, I guess a save feature covers this anyways.
Your character is a mercenary at the beginning of the game and expect to play that roll out over the course of the game. During conversations, money seems to be his main motivator on the pre-recorded lines – so you aren’t playing the role of a saint who helps everyone. You’ll be asked to murder people, do things only because you are paid to, etc. While there is a main quest with clearly defined goals, the game doesn’t bug you to complete them so you can do things as you want. Much like Oblivion, you can do everything in the game, then get to the main quest as an after thought. The character also seems to possess a knowledge of the world that he doesn’t share with you (He’ll, more than a few times, say – I know where that is; when you don’t have a clue, in reality).
As you wander through the world, you’ll follow a minimap in the top left of your screen. While it does a good job at showing lots of colorful circles; it’s hard to make out what direction you are heading and nearly impossible to tell where they want you to go on a quest. You’ll have to visit the bigger in game map for that. In fact, that mini map seems all but useless except for telling you where you haven’t explored – areas in black of course.
Along with teleportal areas, you can speed up exploration by getting a horse and riding it everywhere. You can also fight from horsetop which is a very interesting dynamic that I’ve never seen before. The controls of the horse are a little hard to get used to, but it does speed up getting from point a to b. I haven’t used the horses too much as I like to hoof it myself, but I did for a moment (5 free achievement points on Xbox for mounting a horse) and it was pretty interesting.
The controls are actually a problem throughout the game. The manual does not adequately explain how to map a spell or item to your quick access area (you click the directional pad at the direction you want it and hit left trigger). Also, navigating through your character screen is tedious. Zooming in and out of the map takes too much effort and isn’t intuitive at all, so it’ll take time to get used to that. Inventory management suffers from this same issue as well. Take time and learn the control scheme. If you leave your character screens and go back, it won’t remember what screen you were on, so you’ll have to cycle to it again. It’s a little tedious, but it does end up being functional, if not perfect.
I’ve complained a lot during this review; but they are all petty issues that, while they take away from the game a little, they do not destroy it. The game overall is wonderful. Fighting is fun, exploring is fun, there is lots to see and do – and stuff you can visit that doesn’t even make sense to you yet.
- Wonderful Graphics
- Excellent Fighting and Combat System
- Good variety of quests and enemies
- Sucks you in – there is always something to do
- Limited Load Times
- Freedom to explore (just about) anywhere
- Awkward control system
- Poor voice over work
- Hard to understand navigation (maps)
- Odd barriers to exploring
In the end, I don’t think this game is as good as Oblivion – the game it’ll always be compared to – but it certainly stands on its own as a good game so far with compelling side quests and characters to talk to and a very fun combat system. Based on what I’ve done so far and explored up to this point, the game will probably occupy 50 hours of play time if you do all the side quests so there is a great value for the game if you enjoy RPGs.
My character is 50th level now. And the problems with the game are really highlighting themselves. This is mainly a litany of complaints I have with the game. I enjoy it, despite its faults, but I feel it could have used a little more fine tuning to make the experience that much better.
Since the game began, I asked myself – why is there only 1 healing spell? Then I played around for a while and realized you can stack spell cards much like you do items! Duh! So I stacked 5 or 6 of them and now my healing spell does 2100 points of healing instead of 450. I didn’t read the manual too thoroughly, but I’ve never -ever- seen this in a game before. Very unsual. That also explains why my fire spell’s 24 points of damage never improved. And I’ve been selling extra spell cards as I’ve acquired them. Now I’ll hoard them whenever I see them. Geesh.
At 50th level, I carry 2 weapons (both 2 handed so I change them out as needed). A halberd type weapon (does about 6000 points of damage combined, with enchantments) which does a marvelous job at hitting 4 or 5 guys at once and a blunt weapon (that does about 3000 points, with enchantments) – the latter primarily for skeletons and undead. My defense is something like 3000 or 4000 according to everything I wear, plus I have some elemental resistances as well. I also have about 8000 hit points or something. There are now 2 types of creatures in the game. Those I kill in 2-3 hits and those that kill me in 1 hit. That’s stupid - there is no middle ground here what-so-ever.
Even to survive an ogre. The patten is RT RT RT B (to back off while it attacks cuz if it hits me I’m dead) move in RT RT RT B (to back off again) .. rinse and repeat until its dead. Same with the cyclops. Then, there are these giant insect guys, I forget their names. The humanoid ones die in one or two hits. The giant ones kill me in one or two hits – and there are always 5 or 6 of them – attacking at once. RT RT RT B works unless they maneuver around you, then you are inevitably dead.
I’m a camel. This is my destiny. I found a cave with maybe 200 skeletons in there (several huge fights locked up the game a few times) – eventually killing them all. Each I looted completely – using teleport stones to bring back the loot, sell it, return, loot more. Rinse and repeat until its all done. By doing this at every encounter, I’ve amassed maybe 400,000 in gold so I’m set for a while. Without doing this, there is no way you could pay for the later armour and weapons you’ll find. There are two teleportal locations that are perfect for quick selling – the one in the first town (forget it’s name, but its the one where you get the teleportal stones) – the selling guy is right there; and in the southern half of the map, the japanese city, sellers right there by teleportals too. So it doesn’t take too long to empty off a ton of corpses.
If you aren’t worrying about the main quest; then go back and start working on it; after you’ve found the relic frame and earth element – those quests will not disappear from your “to do” list for some reason. If you do an action that will prevent a quest from being unsolvable, sometimes those will not disappear either from your to-do list. I have 3 unsolvable quests as far as I can tell (find the frame – I have it, but it won’t remove itself. Find the earth element – got it, wont remove itself, and find a missing child – I did something and now everyone is gone from excavations so that’s unsolvable too). Maybe others.
Dump your silly notions of morality. I found a quest in the game (Japanese city again – I forget its name), where – in order to get a key to find the air element (maybe water element, who knows) – you have to help a blacksmith get rid of his greedy sister. She has the rightful claim (judging by conversations and the will she gives you). But, in order to get the key, you have to kill her. Maybe him. I killed her. That made him happy and I got the key. Ah well. There might be others I’ll have to go back and look at as well that have a similar situation – someone just needs to die to get my point across.
The game also has a lot of loose ends. Japanese town again. Mayor wants you to get him a potion. Healer tells you the potion is to cure his lycanthrope (he’s a werewolf) and that he kills citizens on occasion. But, to finish the quest, you have to give him the potion as if nothing ever happened. Weird. Same thing with other quests. Your character doesn’t seem to want to inject his opinion into anything that happens, when, clearly what’s going on is wrong. Some quests may not appear to be related at all, but upon completion of one quest, you’ll get the message “xxx quest failed”. Well, I didn’t even know they were talking about the same thing!
Some quests have interdeterminate goals. One quest tells you to find 2 army deserters, but the guy has no clue where they are. Well, neither do I nor is anyone being helpful. Sucks to be you. Other quests almost demand you read the quest information to make them solvable; one in the beach town demands you go back to a mage (even though you know how its going to end) to let the quest proceed – so in all, you have 4 back and forths (good thing teleportals are close by) and 5 conversations for 500 experience points. Not tough, but it is a pain in the butt and pointless, given the obvious outcome.
Other quests you’ve completed before you realize it. Karga camp. Someone wanted me to locate a missing person. I got the quest and immediately it said it was completed. Apparently, the person I was supposed to find I already found dead in a cave 20 minutes ago. Well, anyways that was an easy set of experience points.
The game is predictable. If you follow the roads around the area; you will come to learn that at every intersection (either minor or major) there is going to be either a bandit camp or a grom camp or a goblin camp. I don’t believe I’ve found an intersection where this isn’t the case. Each camp will have between 2 and 6 guys. The more guys there, the more likely there will be an archer. Usually a camp will have a chest full of goodies as well.
Exploring the underground areas is just miserable. The minimap is totally useless and to navigate you have to use the world map on the closest setting. The mini map is already pretty useless on the surface. Underground, its just miserable. The entire map should turn when you do, not your little arrow in the center – that’s just common sense.
Ghost monsters at night? How stupid. They are boring, too easy to kill, leave no loot. Just generally a waste of my time. It is kind of a hoot to watch the wandering monsters fight the ghosts, even though they can’t damage them – no magic weapons.
There is a wonderful bug in the game – probably quite a few of them, but this is one I’ve noticed. If you are in city and find a door that is locked, you can pick it without being fined. If you opt to pick the lock (it’s silly that picking is the same button as opening, but anyways) and you back away after the door opens, but before your character completes the motion – no one will notice and you can walk in, steal everything and walk out. I’ve done this 4 times now in 2 different cities. Works great.
Update (8/28): (Spoilers Here – Warning. So it’s after the jump)