Two Worlds II Review

03 Aug 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:TopWare Interactive
Developer:Reality Pump Studios
Release Date:2011-02-04
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person,First-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Combat

It's a real shame, then, that Two Worlds II doesn't have very good combat, especially as there's so much of it. On the surface, it's functional. Melee combat has blocking, parries and power attacks, and revolves around breaking the guard of enemies. Ranged combat (archery) lets you imbue your arrows with magic effects, like fire and ice, and you can use "sniper mode" to queue up targets and fire multiple arrows at once. Magic has potentially hundreds of spell combinations available, and potions are useful for any character.

It all falls apart for a few reasons. First, character movement can be clunky due to the fact that it's tied to the physics engine. Momentum, terrain and other factors influence how you move, which is fine for exploration, but in combat it means that movement can feel sluggish, or floaty, such as when making sudden turns or running up or down hills. Many of my deaths could be attributed to the controls, and sometimes I was killed because the ragdoll corpses left behind by enemies blocked my retreat path. In fact, just about every game over screen was a result of enemies stun-locking my character, or surprise-attacking out of nowhere without giving a chance to evade them, or extremely confined quarters with no room to move (not so good considering I focused mostly on archery throughout the game).

Second, the enemy AI is atrocious. There are only about two attack patterns - enemies will rush you blindly in melee, or stand still and attack from range. However, despite the simplicity, frequently I encountered monsters getting stuck on even fairly simple terrain, like small ledges or fences, or standing oblivious as I peppered them with arrows, or firing their own arrows blindly into walls without ever repositioning to get a clear shot at me. I am not exaggerating when I say I don't think I've seen enemy AI so lazy and oblivious in many, many years, and frankly even older games known for poor AI, like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, are still much better.

Third, there's just too much combat. There are many, many dungeons that are full of the same copy-pasted enemies, and it's hard to explore for more than a few minutes without fighting something. As I mentioned above, many corners were cut towards the end, and the deeper you go, the more and more combat appears, almost none of it avoidable, unlike the early game. There are, for example, extended sections where enemies will spawn in a circle around you every 10 seconds' worth of travel, requiring you spend a minute or two dealing with them and slowing you significantly - I think it goes without saying that this is not fun at all. I could certainly tolerate the poor combat if I had more chances to avoid it, or if there was simply less of it, but instead the game does the opposite and it becomes a frustration towards the endgame.

Multiplayer

Two Worlds II also comes equipped with an online mode, and this portion of the game is decently fleshed out. Unlike the single-player campaign, you're able to create a character of varying races and genders, and compete in a variety of different challenges. These range from the Adventure mode, which provides a series of mission-based levels that range from more open-ended areas to dungeon crawls, standard deathmatch, capture the flag and other related game types, and Village, which is sort of a management game which allows you to build a town and generate more money for the other multiplayer modes.

Muliplayer isn't bad, but it suffers from the same problems as the single-player game. The Adventure mode, which I'd consider the most compelling part of the package, is serviceable, but all the missions are pretty linear and straightforward, and they're focused almost exclusively on combat. As I've mentioned above, combat isn't the game's strong suit, although playing with friends, as is the case with most online titles, helps make up for it. There's nothing especially wrong with the multiplayer, and it's another bullet point on the game's feature list to take into consideration if you're interested in getting bang for your buck - it's just that there are probably better online RPGs you could be playing instead, and it's certainly no MMO.