If you had told me a year ago that I'd be playing Two Worlds II, I would have run screaming (or laughing) in the other direction. I played enough of the original Two Worlds to know that it was a horrible mess, so upon hearing about another game in the series, I feared the worst. So I can't even begin to describe how confusing it is to be coming here today to share how much I'm enjoying Two Worlds II on the Xbox 360.
I don't know if the developer Reality Pump kept any of the same staff that worked on the first game or not, but the two games are as different as night and day. The game starts off with a decent character creation system, though you can only play as a male character. I had a ton of feature options, but I wasn't quite able to make someone that looked enough like me, so I just went with the coolest looking character I could create.
From there you get a tutorial section, and while I'm not going to run it down point by point, there was something I noticed right away. Two Worlds II is fast-paced and to the point. Within the first hour, players should be able to handle themselves in combat, craft items, and customize magic spells. It's all simple and easy to do.
The intro section also gives players a quick taste of how to play as a warrior, a ranger, or a mage. That's a good thing too, because players can swap between whatever they want to play as by changing equipment. This is made even easier by the equipment change option where players can swap sets with the press of a single button.
Play style is all based around what stats the most points are put into, so if you focus on strength, you can equip swords, axes, and heavy armor. A player that puts more points in willpower will have a character with access to mage abilities. The same goes with accuracy and how it ties to being a ranger, though it's totally possible to balance out your character however you see fit. Combat is fast and responsive, and the ease of customizing things is well-balanced with the depth of content available.
The story is interesting enough, usually having the hero travel from place to place accomplishing whatever task is at hand. Two Worlds II is not above making fun of the prior game, as there are subtle references and some in-game jokes for those who experienced the horrible dialogue of the first.
Two Worlds II seems to be a fairly large game, as it seems that the end of the first chapter is still a long ways off. That's not a problem right now though, because I'm really enjoying the game. I currently have a mage with a tendency to torch everything in sight, but I can also summon a giant spider to draw enemy attention while I blast them from a safe distance. The fast combat, quick travel system, and complete customization of my character have me ready to go back and play more. I'm enjoying this way more than any other open-world, fantasy RPG I've ever played. So while I'm enjoying Two Worlds II more than I did Risen, Divinty II, or even Oblivion, I fear the scars left on those who played the original will be this game's biggest obstacle to overcome.
Here are some screens for Two Worlds II, which will be available on Jan. 25, 2011. We've also included a video showing what comes with the Royal Edition, available exclusively at Gamestop and Amazon. Look for a full review in the coming weeks.