by Danny Raner
previewed on PC
Two Worlds II = Four Worlds?
It has been about three years since the release of the first Two Worlds, a long time for any fan hankering to go back to Antaloor and continue the search for his lost sister. Fortunately, the wait is almost over, as Two Worlds II is due out this summer and promises to be a big step up from its predecessor. Developer Reality Pump notes the numerous bugs and flawed development choices that plagued the first game and hopes to build a better experience for the fan base of its first console title. However, with titles such as Dragon Age: Origins, the soon to be released epic Final Fantasy XIII and several other fantasy RPGs on this year’s release calendar, it may be difficult for Two Worlds II to survive.
Two Worlds II had something of a confusing start, and its existence deserves some explanation. Not long after the release of Two Worlds, an expansion called The Temptation was announced. Sometime after, an announcement was made that Two Worlds: The Temptation would be a full game rather than a simple add-on. Reality Pump cleared up the confusion and stated that The Temptation was cancelled due to its outdated technology. It then created the GRACE engine from the ground up to power the Two Worlds sequel and provide a level of polish that was absent from the first game. Hopefully it will help to deliver a much more satisfying adventure.
Two Worlds are Better than One
The story of Two Worlds II continues where its predecessor left off. For those who passed up the first game there is no reason to fret as a quick recap at the beginning of the game will get players up to speed quickly. If you have played Mass Effect 2 and used the feature to import your character from Mass Effect 1, you will instantly see the lost opportunity here. Reality Pump still has time to implement such a feature but the current idea is to make use of the rather clichéd choice of “player amnesia” where you have forgotten all your powers and skills and start from square one. This will begin five years after the ending of the first game and start you off in the dungeons of Gandohar’s castle. With some unlikely help from the Orcs and a bit of luck, you make it out of the clutches of evil and resume your quest to save your sister.
Producer Scott Cromie likes to boast about Two Worlds II being a Triple-A title, but that is still up for debate. Discussions about its new graphics engine and gameplay often go hand in hand with the term “groundbreaking.” He may not be wrong. Powering the game is Reality Pump’s proprietary GRACE engine, which has received a much-needed overhaul. Early examples have shown impressive weather and lighting effects in convincing environments. With all of the exotic locations and climates of Antaloor to explore and experience, this could turn out to be one beautiful adventure. The drab and lackluster character models in the first game, however, may make a return, as they don’t seem to be too different from the original. Whereas Two Worlds was primarily a PC game with a shoddy Xbox 360 port, the sequel is being built with console gaming in mind, so it should be safe to buy the game on whatever platform you desire without fear.
Hopefully Twice as Good
It is hard to look at Two Worlds II and not be a little skeptical. Two Worlds I was widely regarded as a disappointment. Yet, it looks like Reality Pump has done a lot to overhaul the game and make it into what feels is a Triple-A title. 2010 has already proven to be a heavily saturated year for great games and Two Worlds II is not going to have it easy. If the game can shed its questionable history and launch as a polished product, it may have a chance.