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Two Worlds II begins in the typical fashion with the most cliché story of all time. In fact the story is so overwrought with the traditional RPG formulas that it is hardly worth noting, but for you good people I will summarize it concisely: You are a prisoner who must rise to the occasion and help rid the land of an evil emperor. You also have to save your sister, because he is somehow drawing power from her. It is pretty standard fare for any RPG, but that isn’t the big draw here. The gameplay is really at the heart of what makes this game worth your time.
It has been awhile since I’ve enjoyed an RPG as much as Two Worlds II, there is something endearing about the combination of B-grade voice acting and RPG standbys. The game is a sequel to the first Two Worlds, but there is no reason to have played the first title; the game stands alone as a very strong experience. The story itself functions simply as a reason to move from town to town leading you towards the inevitable final battle. Other than that, you’ll ignore the story and focus on the robust action. Players are able to outfit themselves in three different ways, allowing players to have 3 completely different sets of armor, weapons, and accessories. This comes in handy because as fate would have it, 3 weapon types exist in the land of Analoor, the sword/club/bludgeoning instrument, bow and arrows, or a magic staff. Basically set one type to each slot and you’re good to go.
Most characters in the game that you encounter are available for you to converse with, but unless it is integral to your quest I would advise against it. The character acting, while leaps and bounds above the first game, is still downright painful to listen to. Characters too often sound disinterested or disjointed, and the scriptwriting isn’t in the least bit interesting. It also doesn’t help that your character sounds disturbingly like a weird cross between Batman and Solid Snake. He often has a general air of undeserved badassery for no apparent reason – I’m not saying that is a bad quality, but when your character is a supremely confident ass it leaves you to wonder how this man, who talks like he eats cigarettes and wears mismatched armor, thinks he is the baddest mofo to ever walk the planet.
The character development system is pretty robust, especially for an Xbox 360 title, sporting an overwhelming amount of customization for your character. You basically have 3 skill trees to work from, the warrior, ranger, and mage class, as well as general stats. Each skill you can learn is unlocked by buying or finding a skill book that corresponds to that skill. It isn’t the most efficient way to distribute skills, but it does keep players from accessing the really strong skills from the beginning. Plus it allows dedicated players to access the skills a little earlier than they should. If you have the dedication to max out your level you can become pretty proficient in every skill the game has to offer, and that's something we need to see more in RPGs.
By far one of the most intriguing aspects of the title is the magic combination system. Basically the way it works, is that you combine several “spell cards” and depending on the way they are arranged, you can summon some pretty cool things. However, the game doesn’t really explain how to combine these cards, and this is a pretty in-depth and complicated process to get working properly. The entire tutorial consists of a single book that your character reads in-game. A far more interactive tutorial is definitely needed for something like this, but if you do get it working right you can summon anything and I do mean anything. Summon the undead, fire, random crap, or undead random crap on fire. Even after you create the spell you can tweak other attributes such as direct or area attack, duration, and area of effect. The game almost underplays this section, but if you take the time to sift through the trial and error process this can be the most rewarding part of the game.
The single player campaign is very satisfying and that alone
is enough to justify a purchase, but the surprise standout of the package is
the multiplayer. Multiplayer has 5 modes, and requires that you create a
completely different character than your single player experience. The 5 modes
are enough to hold your attention for more than a few hours, and with standouts
like Crystal Capture, Village, and Adventure mode you may be dozen of hours in
before you realize it. In Adventure mode, you embark on a completely separate
multiplayer quest with all your friends; however, unlike the sprawling land
and infinite opportunities in the single player campaign, you are relegated to
a linear mission by mission scenario. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, it just
isn’t quite as varied as the single player campaign. Village mode assigns
players a village and you run around taking quests and building up the village.
The equipment that you are able to obtain or forge through the village mode is
able to be carried over to the co-op portion; It really adds another layer to
the already deep experience. Crystal Capture is a Capture the Flag variant that
really helps to foster cooperation between players. The other two modes,
Dueling and Deathmatch are pretty standard fare that will entertain you if you’re
into that sort of thing.
As much praise as I’ve heaped on this sequel, it does come with its share of problems. Unfortunately, most of these problems stem from the game’s port to the Xbox. The controls seem a little too cramped, and it’ll take some practice to be able to access your entire inventory easily. The game also has to load, a lot; if you’re moving at high speeds, such as riding a horse, the game will slow down to allow the next section to load. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that this happens far too often and can really affect gameplay if you’re riding the horse in an extended race or simply riding great distances. Hit detection also seems a bit wonky at times, as you can swing away with your sword and characters will simply slide through the blades. This didn’t happen too much, but in certain fights this could cause you to die, and dying is a bad thing.
In the end, Two World II is a far greater experience than I could have ever hoped for. I went into this title only expecting the worst and was surprised by a complex, interesting RPG. The game has flaws, sure, but it is the most improved franchise that I’ve seen in a long while. If you have a brain in your head, love RPGs, and have a good sense of humor, (I can’t stress the sense of humor enough) you owe it to yourself to pick up this game.