Review

Two Worlds 2 Review (Xbox360)

If there's one thing that we take away from our Two Worlds II playthrough, it's that we love crafting a bit too much. Of course, this is entirely the game's fault, tricking us into thinking that putting a sword together is as simple as pulling a bit of steel of this thing, and a bit of iron off that doodah, put them together and hey presto, it's sword-time.

Not that we're complaining. Pretty much everything, from weapons to spells to potions can be forged from all the useless crap you find lying about on the bodies of your dead foes. Where the average RPG would clutter your inventory up with items you're clearly never going to use, Two Worlds II makes sure that everything lootable is worth grabbing, and the experience feels incredibly enjoyable as a result.

The world is huge, the crafting is awesome

There are issues, such as the terrible inventory handling and the so-so combat - the melee fighting in particular is awful compared to other titles - but overall we were won over by the charm of it all, and the sheer amount of content on offer. Two Worlds II feels rough, yet it's filled with so many clever ideas that are impossible to overlook.

The story is rather throwaway, and we never really felt like we got into the characters. Continuing on from the original game, the protagonist is trapped in an evil Emperor's castle, along with his booby-full sister (of course, every woman in the game has her top-half hanging out - how else are developer Reality Pump meant to grab your attention?). After being freed, you vow to save your sister and help the last of the Orcs.

Gameplay starts off rather slow, but soon picked up speed, throwing you into vast, gorgeous environments that feel full of life. Your main weapons of choice are a magic staff for firing off spells at your opponents, a variety of swords, maces and the like for bashing their skulls in, and bows and arrows for picking enemies off from a distance. Just wait until you're given a chance to fire two arrows at once, and you'll see why we chose to stick to bows most of the time.

Two Worlds II revolves around roaming the world, hacking enemies to death and looting their bodies of every single thing they owned. Once far enough through the game, you'll be able to take pretty much anything looted and meld it all together to make more useful items. The crafting system is incredibly simple and it's great fun to experiment with all the different combinations of items.

Magic spells can also be crafted, and new spells can be found lying about or bought from shops. When it comes to applying your alchemy skills, think a third-person Magicka style of play and you're roughly in the right area. Spells can be combined to make a variety of different attacks and effects, and playing around with the different types is great fun.

If only the inventory management didn't make us want to scream

A simple example: early on in the game, you'll be able to combine Fire with Missile, and create - who could guess - a Fire Missile to shoot at enemies. However, you've also got an Ice Spell, and this can be combined with Missile too. We don't want to go into the more interesting combinations as it wouldn't be fair to spoil it, but let's just say that the number of different combinations is pretty immense.

While the main story didn't grab us, the side quests are definitely worth checking out, offering a variety of completely off-topic shenanigans. The amount of content on offer easily rivals the likes of the Elder Scrolls series, and you'll plug a dozen hours into the game before you even begin to scratch the surface.

Once you've ploughed through the single player, there are a ton of multiplayer options to get involved in. Create a new character, grab a friend and go XP-hunting together through a variety of linear missions. Playing with a friend definitely gives the combat an edge, and is easily one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. There's also competitive game modes, including deathmatch style dueling and a capture the flag mode.

Those people looking for community features are in luck. 'Village' mode acts as a sort of online settlement management, with players building up their village with farms, ranches and the like to attract more settlers to the area. There's tons to do in this mode, from surviving orc invasions to inviting your friends to visit, and we must admit, we spent far too much time caring about our humble town.

Not everything involved makes for such an enjoyable experience. The inventory system does not work at all, with huge images in a grid and a terrible sense of clutter. Since this is a game in which you pick up pretty much everything available, it would have made much more sense to provide a smaller grid and more items on the screen at a time.

Talking of clutter, the minimap is next-to-useless. Most of the time it's impossible to tell where you're meant to be heading, especially when you have multiple quests on the go. Eventually you'll find yourself giving up on it and simply galavanting around until you find where you're meant to be headed.

The visuals are greatly improved over the original game

Our final bit 'hrmm' is the melee combat. Firing off an arrow and striking an enemy down feels powerful enough, but delivering a blow from your sword isn't as enjoyable, especially against later, more stronger bad guys. It's difficult to get a feel for the fighting, and eventually we found ourselves button-bashing to get through it, rather than taking the tactical approach. It's no Assassin's CreedTwo Worlds II, that's for sure.

Two Worlds IITwo Worlds II surprised us to such a degree that we found ourselves thinking about the clever concepts well after play. With plenty to see and do, not to mention some great multiplayer offerings, this is a sequel worth checking out.

Top Game Moment: Watching our online Village grow to epic proportions

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