The Human Resources manager at my day job has a knock-off Dolce & Gabbana bag. It was a gift from her parents, thus she feels somewhat compelled to use it. As you might imagine, the fact that it was a knock-off was volunteered to me. I’m writing a PC game review after all, so obviously my sense of style doesn’t extend much past t-shirts and shorts. Speaking of which, what does this bag have to do with Two Worlds?
Simple, the original Dolce & Gabanna bag in our analogy is a game called Oblivion. To put it mildly, Two Worlds‘ gameplay is “inspired” by Oblivion. Ultimately, that’s not exactly a bad thing. If you’re going to crib, crib from the best. Two Worlds ends up being a reasonably enjoyable experience that actually addresses some of the issues that earned Oblivion some detractors.
Two Worlds transports players to another high fantasy realm of Humans, Orcs, Dwarves, and the usual roaming packs of wolves and the odd bear. This one is called Antaloor, and it is under siege by a resurgent population of Orcs. The player assumes the role of a human male bounty hunter. The character customization options are limited to some basic face and body changes. Limited customization can be a positive if leveraged in a compelling plot. Witness Planescape: Torment as a great example.
While your appearance is limited, your development is not. Skills are divided into the usual warrior/rogue/mage archetypes, but you are not limited to following only one path. Mix and match as you please, but you will only have a certain number of points to allocate. Through level advancement and quest completion you receive more. Certain NPCs in cities will, for a price, provide you the ability to reallocate your points if you find yourself unhappy with your current build.
The central plot is about a shadowy organization that wishes to resurrect an Orc god and steal his power. To accomplish this goal, they’ve kidnapped your sister. Yes, that hot babe on the box is your sister. Hate to harsh your buzz like that. When she proves unwilling to cooperate, they enlist your aide in retrieving the Medieval MacGuffins to further their nefarious ends. While out on the central quest, you’ll roam far and wide in Antaloor, picking up side quests and involving yourself in the rather convoluted local political scene.
Though the central plot is reasonably straightforward, a lot of the factions and side quests involve copious amounts of monotonous NPC dialog. You’re free to roam around without doing any of this. You’ll find the countryside, though large, not especially populous and a bit less crowded with random caves, castles, and ruins as the lands of Tamriel. You will need to be careful, as there is no rubber banding in Antaloor. Roam too far, too soon, and the local inhabitants will slaughter you with ease. On the flip side, advance your character far enough, and you’ll wade through an engagement with 20 Orcs like a pure engine of destruction.
Melee combat is fairly simple, rush your opponents and click until dead. There are a number of skills that can be learned to provide some additional depth, but once your character is sufficiently advanced, you won’t find them very necessary. Some foes require different types of damage, such as skeletons easily shrugging off sword attacks, but crumbling to a nice, large hammer. Casters will need to up their twitch skills, as that fireball you’re hurling is going to fly in a straight line, and it won’t hit anything if your target moves. Stealth combat is an option, but not exceptionally useful when the first Orc you kill sends the rest of the camp after you.
The graphics engine is serviceable, featuring a few of the more advanced bells and whistles such as depth of field. The world textures can be a little bland, and much of the map is stocked with the same random green forest. Character textures, armor, and weapons are far more impressive. There is a wealth of armor and weapons options in the game. Two Worlds offers a useful inventory mechanic with gear, allowing you to combine multiple units of the same type of weapon or piece of armor to create a more powerful version. This allows you a certain leeway in choosing armor and weapons for looks while not sacrificing power.
Sound is impressive to point. All the NPC and player character dialog is spoken, but just not exceptionally well. It’s not laughably bad, just wooden. The addition of “old” English doesn’t help matters. You’ll hear the word “mayhap” in your dreams after a while. The sounds of battle and wildlife are robust, as is the fairly standard score.
Multi-player allows you to play online in either RPG or Arena mode. Arena mode is what you expect, a PvP experience where players duel. RPG mode is a method where you create a new character, with more customization options, and head out on adventures with other players. The system is more like a city hub where players meet, join up, and one hosts the actual quest when the party is ready.
Two Worlds, despite a bit of a bland presentation, is a decent diversion for those looking for an “open-ended, free roaming” fantasy world and have explored every nook and cranny of Tamriel. The choices in weapons and armor, combined with the sheer size of the world make it easy to fill your quest book with places to see and things to kill.