E3 2010: Two Worlds II Preview

By Nick Young on June 24, 2010, 2:15PM EDT

Hearing about a sequel for Two Worlds was quite surprising, mostly because of how buggy the original was and how the multiplayer was near enough unplayable. Despite that, the game had a great concept and all the features were there, it just needed refinement, something that Two Worlds II is aiming to achieve. We sat down with SouthPeak Games to check out what Two Worlds II had to offer.

Starting out the demo, we were shown the beginning of the game which acts as the tutorial. The basic controls were explained but none of the swordplay or magic was included. The beginning of the game did contain a few story elements however. This game is set five years after the first game and the main hero (from the first game) is rescued from a castle's dungeon by Orcs, who were primarily the bad guys in the first game. The Orcs don't seem happy about it but they were ordered by the Dragon Queen to do so As the hero and his new friends make their way out of the castle they are confronted by the game's main villain, Gandohar.

The beginning of the game is very rich in story and very cut-scene heavy. Southpeak's representative seemed very happy explaining that the fight scenes had been choreographed by professionals. Something that was unfortunately left out of the rest of the game, more specifically, the actual combat. Character animations are very 'fixed', an enemy could be close, far away or to the side but to attack them the character always has to be directly facing them. This is usually the case in most games but when an attack causes the playable character to leap forward there is more of a chance of missing the intended enemy and leaping past them.

The second part of the demo led us to fight some flaming skeletons inside a dimly lit dungeon. Quite why they were on fire was never explained but fighting them proved that the combat has been much improved since the first game. There were a number of set combat abilities that could be 'hot-keyed' to the controller's face buttons, as different sets of these hot-keyed abilities can then be set to the d-pad. Fortunately a lot of skills can be accessed during combat simply and effectively. Two Worlds II also has a strong emphasis on magic, but unlike combat skills it has a much deeper functionality.

Magic 'cards' are gathered throughout the game. What makes this game different from any other RPG out there is the use of these cards. Magics can be combined for a number of effects in one spell. The example we were shown was a widespread fire attack followed by the summoning of Scorpion demons. Customisation like this makes playing a spellcaster much more interesting than in other games and varies up the combat nicely, especially when magic can also augment weapons for an extra effect during combat. This rounds up the combat nicely; lots of customisation and options mean that combat hardly ever gets boring, at least for the spellcasters.

Other character classes can be built up using the game's class system. As characters level up, they acquire points and it is with these points that players can shape their heroes in a number of different ways. Instead of the usual starting point of a game forcing players to choose from a selection of specific characters, Two Worlds II lets players customise and evolve their characters throughout their adventure. If that wasn't enough, characters can also be outfitted with custom armour that can be acquired, created or upgraded through the game's own crafting system.

Multiplayer was a key feature in the original Two Worlds and the sequel is no different, Two Worlds II will feature duels, co-op and questing for 2-8 players online. But for those people looking for a purely single player experience, most notably for an exploration into the world of Two Worlds, books will be scattered around the land containing the game's lore.

Overall the game is looking much better than the original thanks to the new Grace engine that Topware Interactive, the game's developers, are using. The Grace engine deals specifically with lighting and depth of field so in a game like Two Worlds II, it makes a vast improvement. The dungeons and swamp level we were shown looked very impressive compared to the original and with interactive environmental hazards, it only adds to the immersion. The game does need a little touching up but it's looking pretty solid right now, hopefully the multiplayer problems that plagued the first game have all been solved and we can all look forward to a decent online experience that the first game failed to provide.

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