The most visually pleasing element of Two Worlds II might be its excellent lighting, although the use of HDR is more than a little overbearing. Dynamic shadows are cast by everything from lanterns and campfires to handheld torches and flashy spells, adding to the atmosphere of night-time raids in enemy territory and spelunking in dank caverns. About half of the game is spent in an area called the Savannah, which is unsurprisingly modeled after dry African plains and might leave you wanting a change of scenery after a while. Luckily, you eventually make the transition to a much more pleasant landscape on another island that is mostly lush jungle paradise featuring oriental architecture.
Models and textures are mostly acceptable, but I wish the draw distance was farther; even with it turned all the way up in the options, a lot of objects will be popping up within view. Also, one of the first things I noticed when I started playing is that the animations are atrocious. They’re very poorly-crafted and are repeated quite often during conversations with NPCs. It seems odd to me how the developers could feel content with such jerky and mechanical character movements in normal gameplay, yet spend what must have been hours on carefully crafting unnecessarily intricate sword-fighting sequences for cutscenes. I suppose they might have motion-captured those, but then why wouldn’t they do that for everything else?
A DirectX 10 rendering mode is available, which is supposed to offer a performance boost and slightly better visuals, but I didn’t notice much of a difference in either of them. I found it to be highly unstable, to boot, even more so than the standard DX9 mode. Both produced the occasional strange graphical glitches and crashes. Apparently these problems are more common with NVIDIA GPUs, which is unfortunate for me, as I use GTX 460s in SLI. I also had trouble with the hardware cursor option turned on, which resulted in something going wrong and the mouse pointer disappearing. It’s definitely more responsive than using the software cursor, but it’s pretty difficult to play when it’s invisible…
Oh boy… the voice acting in Two Worlds II is HORRIBLE. Not just bad, but setting the bar that much higher for crappy English dubs of foreign games. Wikipedia says that all the voices in the first game were done by Reality Pump staff instead of actors, so they must have kept that tradition alive for the sequel. Even aside from the various awful and contrived accents people put on, almost all of the performances lie somewhere on a spectrum between forced and apathetic.
Plus, your character, the guy with the majority of the lines in the whole game, is the worst of them all! Whoever cut those lines must be the president of the publishing company or something, because there’s no possible way anybody on the dev team could have listened to that appalling delivery -- a muted monotone that makes saving the world seem as boring as tying your shoes -- and thought it was appropriate for the main character
. Other than that, the sound effects are average. The music is surprisingly good, and the only reason to listen to this game at all.