Two Worlds II is the second game in a series of open world RPGs from Polish developer Reality Pump, which was previously known for their work on lesser-known real-time strategy games. It continues the story of a struggle for power in the land of Antaloor, and a nameless hero’s quest to save his sister from an evil emperor in time to prevent the destruction of the planet, or some such. The first game was released on PC and Xbox 360, while the second brings the improvements in graphics, combat, and questing to the PlayStation 3, as well.
The game starts out a little slow, with an extended tutorial segment that insists not only on teaching you the basics of movement and interaction, but also providing in-depth lessons on how to use each of the three distinct styles of combat: melee, ranged, and magic. Instead of choosing one of three classes, you develop your character by choosing which of the four basic attributes and appropriate skill sets you want to invest in. Armor and weapons also come in the three general varieties and should be chosen accordingly.
As it turns out, fighting in Two Worlds II is a bit dicey. I found both archery and spell-slinging to be rather awkward, so I opted for melee. Unfortunately, that boils down to alternating clicks and space bar taps, which is the only reliable way to get your warrior to attack at a consistent pace. You’re supposed to be able chain combinations together by appropriately spacing out your clicks, but there’s no clear indication as to how to do that and the timing varies depending on the type of weapon, how you’re using it (one-handed, two-handed, dual-wielding), and whether you are in an offensive or defensive stance. Yet more illusion of tactical depth is provided by the ability to block and parry, which really only serve to slow you down, especially when the majority of enemies use them as an excuse to just stand there and defend 80% of the time, preventing all damage except that from a special penetrating attack skill…
But wait, you’re still not finished with the prologue! By the time it’s through trying your patience, you’ll realize that the story makes very little sense, the writing is terrible, and the actors have less talent for reading a line than a bunch of tenth grade students forced to put on a production of Julius Caesar for their English class. Fortunately, things get a lot more interesting once you arrive in the first small town and are allowed the freedom to wander around and do as you please. As with most other open-world RPGs, Two Worlds II presents you with a whole boat load of side quests on your journey between locations critical to the main storyline. There are at least a couple hundred of these odd jobs throughout the game, and will constitute the majority of the time you spend playing.
A lot of the quests represent little more than standard RPG grunt work -- package delivery, beast slaying, item retrieval, dungeon diving, etc. Many of them are offered on behalf of various organizations, such as the Merchants Guild, Society of Mages, and Brotherhood of Fighters. Completing such tasks will increase your reputation amongst their ranks, sometimes bringing rewards and benefits such as unique loot and discounts at their merchants. Some of the most interesting quests are those that you stumble upon out in the world and have more than one way of completing them. The most memorable for me involved a carpenter being robbed by bandits on the construction site: when I strolled up, the bandits posed as workers and the victim, who appears to be the foreman, tells me about some baboons in a nearby valley that stole his tools. I went to slay the baboons, but found no tools, and returned to see the poor bastard alone and bereft of all his valuables. He started yelling at me, asking how I didn’t notice the “workers” were armed with swords and axes, nor realize that his bizarre request was a hint as to his predicament!