Two Worlds II: Pirates of the Flying Fortress Review

17 Aug 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:TopWare Interactive
Developer:Reality Pump Studios
Release Date:2011-09-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
The quests and scenarios in Pirates are also quite a bit more fun. While the original campaign had its share of entertaining adventures, Pirates is much more consistent about tone - it keeps the main story serious, and has its sillier moments relegated to optional content. From a quest to don Santa Claus' garb and deliver gifts around an island to content some lost spirits, to a pantry-raiding mimic disguised as a treasure chest, it's nice to see Reality Pump's sense of humour come into the game without it getting in the way of the main plot or pacing.

Unfortunately, not all is good. Combat is a major downside of Two Worlds II, and it's not much better in the expansion. The high point is that there are more boss fights and more varied enemies in general, like mages who summon minions. However, the combat balance is quite poor; most enemies are easy to defeat, but  you'll occasionally stumble into a dozen archers who stun-lock your character from afar, or a stray fireball that kills you in one hit. The higher-level enemies also mean that certain character builds are also even weaker, though it's still possible to respec.  And, just like the main story's final hours, Pirates features an overly long ending segment which is packed with obvious and unnecessary filler, both in combat (enemies spawning every 20 feet) and quests (like spending 30 minutes doing chores for a whiny boy).

Presentation

Pirates of the Flying Fortress represents a pretty big jump over Two Worlds II. Its new islands are lush and vibrant, with dense vegetation and surprising variety considering the expansion uses the same visual palette most of the way through.  Water and sunlight, both attractive in the original game, are given more room to show off here, and the results are some very impressive vistas. Like the main game, it also features a great soundtrack, with a pretty fair number of entirely new songs, both orchestral and acoustic (thankfully, there's no cheesy sea shanties or stereotypical tavern music).

Unfortunately, Pirates, at least the English version, suffers from a major flaw - the voice acting. Although a few characters are handled decently, the acting is decidedly worse than the main game's; it's hard to tell if this is poor direction on Reality Pump's part, their lack of experience with the English language, or simply poor actors, but it's bad enough that it can make some of the more plot-critical scenes fall somewhat flat. What's more, the protagonist's voice actor has changed from the original campaign - on its own this would be jarring, but the new actor seems to sleepwalk his way through most of the lines as well. I won't fault Reality Pump that much for this, as I'm sure they would have used the original actor if possible, but the new one neither has the acting ability or personality to make up for it.

Conclusion

Overall, Pirates of the Flying Fortress is a very solid addition to Two Worlds II. I can say that I enjoyed it significantly more than the original game, both due to its more focused, interesting story, as well as its improved gameplay; at 10-15 hours, there's more than enough content to justify the asking price (especially as it's now included with the game's Velvet Edition, and can be purchased separately for a pretty low price). While a lot of those old problems with Two Worlds II remain, overall, Pirates of the Flying Fortress is a great example of a developer improving on their original formula to make a new game that isn't just more of the same, but surpasses its source by leaps and bounds.

If this is what Reality Pump are capable of now that they've got more experience under their belts and time to create a more polished and consistent product, then I am very eager to see what awaits the Two Worlds franchise in the future. As more and more developers turn to making action games first, RPGs second, this rising Polish team could well become one of the genre's better studios.
 
 

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