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Another Two Worlds

Apparently, in some major decision-making factory of my fractured mind, I believed I actually had enough time to purchase a third game. Now I've EQ2, Vanguard, and Two Worlds on my gaming to-do list. At least this one isn't a massively multiplayer game.

First impressions of Two Worlds are that this is an Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion clone. It's really more like 25% Oblivion, 25% Diablo, and 50% Gothic. What follows is my review of Two Worlds based on my single player experiences in the demo and retail version.

Two Worlds delivers a poor first impression. The combat seems very simplistic with only a single combat animation per type of weapon. The interface feels awkward. The balance feels like it's not there due to things like brewing potions that permanently increase your prime attributes. The frame rate is quite choppy on anything but a relatively cutting-edge video card (though it is playable at a low frame rate). There's a hackneyed feel to the script thanks to the choice to insert occasional Old English words arbitrarily into the dialog. Overall, it's not hard to see why many people played Two Worlds for less than an hour before putting it down and uninstalling it from their system forever.

This flashy trailer is probably actually better than the game. I advise playing the demo for a more accurate portrayal of the game.

That's a pity, because given some more time and experimentation, these people would have learned that there's more to this game than initially meets the eye. The combat becomes less simplistic once you pick up some abilities, learn the importance of dodging, or start getting into the magic system with its staggering variety of 75ish customizable spells. The interface makes more sense with practice and old fashioned RTFM. The balance is not broken, just very loose, with a nearly unlimited level cap that allows you freedom to build an extremely powerful character (including repicking old choices at the cost of gold). The Old English dialog isn't a real big deal, and you've the option of skipping any line with a simple right-click.

Then there's all the nifty things you never would have encountered in the first few hours of the game. Great sweeping tracts of land with cities, villages, and other outposts - not all of them friendly - that have reasonably good detail up close and personal. An elaborate political system of several factions. The use of traps and a fairly good stealth implementation. Even the overall presentation of the artwork is endearing after you get used to it - this is a noticeably magical world you wander.

My main critiques of Two Worlds are mostly technical in nature. The low frame rate is not justified given what is delivered, and this suggests the engine has less optimization than it could. I predict I'd need at least a GeForce 8000 series card or equivalent to really play Two Worlds smoothly at a high resolution (it's a good thing it's playable at a low frame rate). Horse riding is a bit of a pain, those pesky nags having tunnel vision even without blinders, often resulting in my having to slow the horse to a stop to turn it the right direction or else getting off and calling it over to where it needs to be. The quest markers are sometimes completely absent, making it difficult to figure out where I need to be to finish them. Crimes are witnessed even when there's no one around.

Still, when taken as a sum of its whole, Two Worlds is a pretty rewarding experience. I may not be riveted to it, but I am enjoying the single player campaign and look forward to giving the multi player mode a shot after completing it. Two Worlds may have nothing on Oblivion, but Oblivion has nothing on the Gothic-like charm to be found in Two Worlds.
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