Review | 1/27/2011 at 11:56 AM

Two Worlds 2 Co-Op Review

There’s a passage in the Bible that, when simplified, says that the sins of a father would be passed on to his son and the only way to break this cycle is through Jesus. I’m not sure if divine intervention has a part in Two Worlds 2’s creation, but by some miracle the game breaks out of the stigma the original Two Worlds created, and somehow Two Worlds 2 manages to be a pretty decent RPG in the process.

Two Worlds 2 starts out with your character being freed from a dungeon by a band of Orcs as he begins a quest to save his sister from the evil lord Gandohar. Character creation is fairly in-depth, with plenty of options to customize your appearance all the way down to “brow angle.” Sadly your main character can only be a male - so female players and men who like to role-play as girls are in for a disappointment. As soon as you jump into the game world you are greeted with some truly impressive visuals - vibrant landscapes, lush trees and grass, and impressive draw distances.

One thing I immediately liked about Two Worlds 2 is that your character isn’t locked into a class. While there are many different areas you can apply skill points to based on class - warrior, mage, assassin, and ranger - you aren’t locked into any one of these things. Combine this with the quick on-the-fly weapon and armor set switching, and it’s easy to play up to three “classes” at any time.

Speaking of weapons and armor sets - the one really stand-out feature of Two Worlds 2 is its crafting system. Every item can be broken down into basic components - a sword into iron, a shield into wood, a helmet into leather and steel. These components can then be used to upgrade your existing items to make them more powerful. Of course, determining what’s “more powerful” is a bit of a conundrum in itself because, by default, item stats are represented by a bunch of indiscernible icons. Thankfully this can be toggled with a option in the settings menu, but it took me a good 10 hours of playtime before I dug out the manual and realized it.

Another option you’ll want to make sure to set is the auto-save time; the more frequent the better. Because when you’re dead in Two Worlds 2 - and you will die a lot - you’re dead and need to reload. Part of this problem of dying so often comes from trying to figure out if the giant ant you are about to face off against will kill you with one swift blow from its antenna, or if you are an equal match for it. I’m still not sure how you’re expected to decide if you are capable of facing off with an enemy.  According to Southpeak this isn't something presented to the players, instead you get a set of icons that show their resistances.  

If your character happens to be magic focused, there’s another piece of the crafting system that deals solely in spells. The spell system is based on cards that carry attributes. For instance, you may have a fire card and combine it with a projectile card. Instant fireball. But now you stack in a ricochet card and that fireball suddenly bounces between enemies. There’s a whole range of modifiers and base types here to play with to create spells to your heart’s content - modifiers based on properties like fire, earth, water, air, life and death. Each spell goes into an amulet, and at any time you can have up to three amulets active.

If all this wasn’t enough customization there’s an addictive alchemy system as well. Just about every enemy has some sort of raw element yanked from its smouldering corpse - whether it’s a baboon tongue, wolf claw, etc., it can somehow be used to create a potion. You’ll want to combine these things with the plants found within the world to give you bonuses like +20% to strength, or heal 500 HP. Putting these items together in a cauldron creates a new potion (and recipe) for you to use. While there seems to be infinite combinations, combining objects that have multiple effects doesn’t automatically create a potion that takes on all of those properties. There’s a fair amount of trial and error.

As with any good Action/RPG, the meat of the game is the quests themselves. While there’s nothing terribly exciting here other than your normal “kill this guy”, “fetch that item” type of thing - there is a lot to do. The manner in which these are presented are mostly light hearted - like taking someone’s severed head to a necromancer - so it’s safe to call them interesting. One problem I kept having, however, was figuring out just what I’m supposed to do, combine this with a poor interface for the quest log and I felt like I had a lot of downtime. To make matters worse, I managed to kill my first horse within 15 minutes of riding it (who put that cliff there?) - so getting from place to place became a real chore.

The combat itself is a strange mix of incredibly satisfying and horribly boring. The satisfying part comes from the nice variety of spells, moves and options you have in combat combined with the ability to switch weapon sets on the fly. I loved being able to fire double arrows on some enemies and as they charge quickly switch up to a shield and sword and take them down. However, it can take the upwards of two minutes to take down an enemy, continually pulling the trigger over and over - it basically feels like you are whacking a stone. That’s the boring aspect.

The co-op in Two Worlds 2 consists of seven mini quests that branch the story between the first game and the second - for the most part gameplay is identical to the single player but with the added strategy and chaos that comes from introducing seven other players into your game. I love seeing the variety of characters online: the game allows you to choose the race, sex, and general class of your character - it’s easy to differentiate people while playing online.

Teamwork seems essential, as these online chapters are quite difficult; and its nice to have a good balance of player classes.  It appears as though the game scales the number of enemies depending on the number of players - which is a good thing.  You can also easily split up across any area on the map, as there’s no tethering. Players share XP from kills, and it seems the host player sets the difficulty for the map, which makes it easy to power level your friends.

The only major problem I can find with the co-op is the inconsistent length of the missions themselves. While the first few might take 30 to 45 minutes each, the laters missions can take almost two hours each. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad...except that there’s no way to save mid mission.

Much like this review, Two Worlds 2 is an incredibly meaty game with tons of content for both single player and co-op. After 15 hours of single player I'm not even one third of the way through - and after 7 or so into co-op I still have two chapters left to complete.  On top of this we still have deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a strategy oriented village mode to further increase the hours that can be spent on this game.

While I still feel Two Worlds 2 lacks some polish, the sheer amount of everything else combined with the deep nature of its crafting systems should allow you to overlook it. Action RPG fans have a lot to love here, and its nice to see such an improvement from the original game. Two Worlds 2 is far from perfect...but it still manages to be satisfying and addictive.