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Inomplete (formerly titled "We're loving it"),
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This review is from: Two Worlds 2 - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
Sadly, my review (see below) has to be downgraded down from the initial 5 stars (I love it) to a neutral 3 star (meaning "It's Okay").
Everything I wrote below is still valid but, as I kept playing, it became increasingly clear that 2W2 was rushed to market before it was finished:
- About half of the land mass is out of reach. You simply can't get there, the makers made sure to surround it all with tall mountains.
- As you progress through the chapters, and each chapter is loosely associated to one of the world's 'islands', you move from densely populated, quest-rich lands to increasingly empty, more barren landscapes with few quests to complete, the last islands, the largest of them all, being 90% off limits.
- Neat features such as 'sailing' go largely unfulfilled. Strangely, there is no commerce between the several islands and, once you find the only boat you can actually sail, there's really no place to go.
- My 60 hours of play (I play slow so expect a 40-hour run for most) produced a most powerful character, armed with the most fearsome and cool-looking weapons, wearing a near-impenetrable armor. Sadly, it also produced an empty world. Everybody and everything that I could fight other than a couple of cats and ants is dead now so there's nothing to do other than kill 'guards' which gets boring fast.
- I will not discuss the plot but I will say that end-game could have been scripted better.
And, finally, the online mode is unplayable. It's extremely frustrating to learn that, after all this 'work' developing your in-game character, making him powerful, skilled and well equipped, to learn that you can't use it online. You are supposed to create a 'new' character or several characters 'from scratch'. Why? Nobody knows but I didn't feel compelled to even try 'online'.
So, it's 'goodbye TW2. It was a nice game for the first 30-40 hours but I expected more. Overall, it's not a bad game but it could have been A LOT better. The way it is now, only mediocre. If I knew what I know now, I would not have bought the game.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW:
As I am playing Two Worlds 2 (TW2 for the rest of this review) and enjoying every minute of it, I can't help but compare it with similar past and present RPGs. I'm thinking of Oblivion, the Fallout series, Demon's Souls and keep dreaming about the 'perfect' RPG. And the reality of TW2 seems to suggest that, given the technology and the reality of a budget, this is probably as good as we are likely to get, at least for a while.
Two Worlds 2 is far from a perfect RPG. It follows the open world RPG conventions and expectations in many ways but, clearly, some of its features could be called 'steps back'. At the same time, other features can be called brilliant innovations and stunning as far as RPG conventions and technical advances go. TW2 is clearly at or close to the top, considering whatever else is available today for the current generation of consoles. Without a question it is a playable, most intriguing, addictive game. I know this because the 3 RPG players in my household, me and my 2 teenage boys are keeping the PS3 up almost non-stop and reserving time to play nothing but TW2 for hours and hours and sharing tips and stories at the dinner table and at breakfast.
I don't want to do unfair and biased comparisons but it's a fact that TW2 is nearly all we play at this time, meaning that we stopped playing 'New Vegas', I plated GT5 on a temporary hold at level 35 and two 24-hour races short of the ultimate trophy and Little Big Planet 2 is barely acknowledged by the kids these days. So, let's go into some specifics.
THE TECHNICAL MERIT
When compared to the 'older' great Bethesda RPGs such as Oblivion and the 2 Fallout releases - and I call the Fallouts technically 'old' because they are built with basically the same tools used with Oblivion - TW2 shows significant and in some cases revolutionary improvements. And here they are, probably not a complete list.
- Bugs-free. After over 100 hours of TW2 play (me, and the kids together) we haven't experienced one single 'freeze' or crash. Not even one. Other than one Baboon, floating 6 feet up in the air, no bugs I'm aware of.
- Quick saves/load. There's no such a thing as 'near-instant' saves or 'loads' but, when compared to the Fallout titles, Oblivion or even the great Demon's Souls, TW2 load/saves times are fast. On a PS3 it's probably 1/3 the load/save time you would experience on New Vegas. And, unlike it, TW2 does not bother saving your game every time you enter a new house or cave which makes for a significantly smoother gaming experience. The 'auto saves' do slow down the action for a few seconds but it's up to you whether they happen every minute or every 10 minutes or every 20 minutes.
- The savanna. The only comparison can be made with old Oblivion because Fallout's desert didn't require such a 'live' environment. If Oblivion's landscapes were stunning and I thought they were so at the time, Oblivion couldn't handle 'water' and 'fire' very well - game would slow down to a crawl and sometimes crash whenever there you had fire, lava or flowing water in the background. TW2 thrives on showing us what open plains look like. Walking or riding through TW2's great plains is almost a National Geographic experience. As for fires, waterfalls? No big thing.
- Water. Probably one of the most stunning advances in TW2 is the Ocean. I showed TW2 to a couple of friends and the two things I showed them first was a Safari and then we went for a swim. After the Safari, with Cheetahs waiting in ambush in the grass or motionless and blending with the environment on top of boulders bringing 'ooos' and 'ahhhs', the swim experience left them speechless. I can't think of any other game in existence that does it better. Try it.
- AI. Not all is brilliant and some of it is dumb but, whomever did the AI for the Cheetahs and the Warthogs and the Baboons should be congratulated. It's simply beautiful. The savanna animals and the rendering of the ocean are hints of what 'next generation' RPGs could be like.
On the not-improved or 'not implemented' category that clearly fall under the technical/technology category, I was disappointed that something like Havoc's engine, so well integrated it Demon's Souls and to some extent in Oblivion and Fallout is nowhere to be found in TW2. With some few, well marked exceptions - swimming is one - you can't interact/change the environment much. Yes, you fight your enemies and there's blood (or green goo) splashing all over but you can't, for example, cut an arm or squish a but or push a boulder. Swimming looks great but, once you come out of the water you're as dry as you were before you got in it.
Another little technical quirk is the 'voice' part. Not the acting which is good but, more often than not, the beginning or the end of statements appear to be cut off. It's like if you are playing a small sound file and whomever cut the clip did it in a hurry and missed a fraction of a second from at the beginning or at the end. It's probably what happened so, whomever did the sound editing did not do a very good job and it can be distracting.
I'm nowhere hear finishing the game (just reached level 26 and entered 'chapter two' at the time I'm writing this) but it's safe to say the the world is 'large' and there's plenty to do. I've mentioned already the great plains but, of course, there's a lot more in TW2. There are mountains to climb, deserts to explore, oceans to sail, caves and dungeons to... survive, farms, towns and cities to visit. TW2's underground features and its towns look a lot more organic than Oblivion's and Fallout's. In Oblivion it was easy to identify the Lego-like components used to build the dozens of dungeons and other structures. It's possible that TW2 has a limited number of building blocks but it's either so many we don't notice or there's some custom layer superimposed that's hiding them and everything feels a lot more realistic. You find individual houses, winding streets, commerce plazas and crowds of people going about their business in the towns and they really seem to resent you if you don't mind yours and bump into them so if you hear screams of 'were you raised in a barn?' or a girl giggle when you don't control your walk too well, it's not personal.
There is a lot to explore and experience on your errands. Once you visited a certain area, you can 'fast travel' after that if a teleport could be found and you can ride a horse if you don't mind missing the opportunity of doing a little hunting for beasts or 'monsters'. And, talking about beasts and monsters, there's plenty of them and you can make it your mission to rid the world of them. Some of the animals tend to respawn but most of the entities that fight back with weapons appear not to. Which is okay because there must be thousands of them.
The 'people' are either of the kind that mind their own business and expect that you mind yours but, of course, there are merchants, artists, individuals that will interact with you in connection to one of your quests as either friends or enemies or bosses and the members of the several leagues: fighters, thieves, mages, merchants and so on. Your reputation or notoriety plays some part in the way people interact with you but it's the various leagues that tend to keep track of what you do for or against them and afford you some preferential treatment on that basis.
Oh, the story. But, does it really matter? We like RPGs because the reward of completing quests and solving puzzles we become increasingly more powerful, get to wear cool armor and weapons, cast awesome spells and, as we progress, can successfully fight and defeat enemies that would have blown us to pieces with a sneeze at the beginning of the game. In that respect TW2 meets the expectations. You start weak, you learn about the world around, you do the quests and solve the puzzles and, as you do, you level up and get to wear the cool armor and use the cool weapons. Hopefully, you'll be able to save your sister and beat up all the bad guys - the Emperor - eventually but... you don't want THAT to happen too soon because RPGs are about the thrill of exploring, fighting, looting, learning and growing. I haven't finished the game so I'm not quite sure what the story is exactly about but... I can't say that I'm dying to find out at this time.
THE RPG CONVENTIONS
It's not essential but it's probably interesting to mention the way some of what we call the RPG 'rules' or expectations are implementing in this game so, here they are, in a list format.
- You don't eat, drink, sleep. Or you don't have to. And you never get tired, hungry or sleepy. Sure, there are potions and useful plant remedies but you could finish TW2 without ever taking a bite or drinking one drop of anything liquid.
- Your apparel/weapons/armor don't wear out, don't break. Once you acquire a sword it will always be 'as good as new' for as long as you use it, no matter what you do with it. One of my kids says that you could mess up your weapon if you swing at a locked chest but I have to check that.
- You don't tire while fighting. There is 'stamina' but it appears only to apply when you run or swim. During combat, you can swing your big half-ton battle hammer for as long as it takes and you'll never break a sweat.
- There is no compass. There is a way to follow you path on the big map or the on-screen minimap but only the big map tells you which way is North. In-game, what you get is a GPS-like view.
- There are no set classes. This has been much discussed and it doesn't bother me a lot. You are going to naturally pick a mage-like or a fighter-like path and I doubt it's possible to build a powerful character unless you pick one. Trader, necromancer, thief... these are secondary past times but you probably must specialize in either brute-force or spell-casting.
- Skill reset. This bothers me a lot more than the above. TW2, or one of the NPCs in it will allow you to basically reconstruct yourself and redistribute nearly all of your skill points. In other words, you can spend dozens of hours to build yourself as the fiercest sword fighter in the land and, for a small fee, you can turn yourself into an arch-mage.
- Health regeneration. This is something that we've seen in the older RPG but not in the more recent ones. In TW2 your health comes back and even you 'poisoned' status goes away for as long as you are not in combat with your weapon drawn.
- No weather. There is some day/night transition and what seem to be 'morning mists' but that's it. No rain, snow or wind experienced so far.
- Anything other than weapons and armor is weightless. You can carry 1,000 potions, bags full of medicinal roots, mutated hearts and giant scorpion poison glands and a one hundred volume library on your back and it won't slow you down one bit.
I enjoy the way TW2 did leveling. Each new level grants you a few more attribute and skill points. You get more skill points for doing 'things' like killing lots of animals or picking many locks or brewing a number of potions and so forth. Your level and your skills decide which weapons/armor you can wear. Skills must be first taught before you can assign point to them and skill books are either offered to you or you find them or you buy them if you can afford it.
Weapons, armor, staffs, shoes can be upgraded if you have the proper skills, can be sold/bought or you can break them (again, if you have the skills) into their components to be used when updating other items. Depending of how upgraded your equipment is, you can attach to them various crystals and improve either attributes (strength, accuracy, will power) or skills (lock picking, blocking).
Spells are cast with staffs which can be broken apart and upgraded as described above and are build each on separate spell cards where various spell modifiers interact to produce some very customized ones. Of course, you will need the skills. And, as a mage, you need to specialize in air/water/earth/fire or necromancy and acquire the related skills or maybe try to master them all.
Combat is not as realistic as I hoped. Demon's Souls will continue to be the best and smoothest combat RPG I'm aware of but it's a great improvement over the Bethesda games. There is thrust, swing, block, block breaking and the game is quite responsive to controls. However, as I mentioned before, you never get tired so it's quite easy to stun an enemy and almost never give it a chance to fight back if you keep spamming your best move. The enemies do block you and they do try their own tricks so combat is good by comparison but it could be a lot better.
It's clear by now that, with all its shortcomings, this is a 5-star game for me because Amazon's 5-stars mean 'I love it'. Which I do. Clearly, there is no perfect RPG yet and TW2 comes with major shortcomings. However, overall, TW2 is a superior game which I expect to play for quite a few hundred hours, and I am not aware of anything compelling in the PS3 pipeline probably until Skyrim launches in the fall of 2011. Which is why I'm saying 'buy it' because these are big budget products and if the talented people who are giving us these great games can't be paid, no one will hire them to do the next great RPG.
Nothing on the 'online' features yet because we've been too busy with the story mode part so far and had no time for online. So far, the best online (combat) RPG I am aware of is Demon's Souls.
Not part of this review but, here's my brief, head-to-head, one-sentence evaluation of the current major RPGs currently on the market.
* OBLIVION - huge world, great story, good humor, major slowdowns on melee scenes involving multiple characters and/or flowing water/burning fires/lava, occasional crashes, lots of huge, mostly cookie-cutter dungeons and ruins, occasional crashes, long load/save times, auto-saves every time you pass through a door.
* FALLOUT - world not as large as Oblivion, great story, great humor, buggy, terrible melee combat, crashes, short main story. Did I mention buggy? Long load/save times.
* FALLOUT NEW VEGAS - world same size as the original fallout, OK humor, feels like a large FALLOUT DLC, even more bugs and crashes, longer load/save times, melee still bad.
* DEMON'S SOULS - the best online integration in any console game so far, incredibly brutal, the best hand-to-hand/melee combat, bugs-free (one crash in over 600 hours of play), the 5 worlds are relatively small but all is polished to near-perfection, load/save times quite long.
* TWO WORLDS 2 - not much of a story but enough quests to keep one busy for a long time, basic humor, incredible outdoors environment, okay melee, large world(s), addictive, open world but player is strongly steered through the plot, extremely good implementation of magic and weapons/armor forging but many shortcuts (see review), bugs-free, short load/save time.
>> Brush your teeth, it's the law! <<
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 6, 2011 8:36:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 7, 2011 7:36:46 AM PST
I found some bonus codes online that should work on all platforms. They are not 'cheats', just bonus codes. They'll get you a great piece of armor, some weapons and a map. Of these, the armor is/was the only item I'm still using. The weapons are not that great but they look good. Anyone interested, if you can't find them online, email me.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 8, 2011 12:36:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2011 12:38:03 PM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2011 6:28:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2011 7:52:33 AM PST
The Cheetas hide in the grass and do their best to ambush you and did you try to chase the Boons? They definitely don't 'sit'. And, if you don't pay attention they sneak behind you and you get the bucketload of whatever it is they're throwing.
On the swimming we'll have to disagree. Are you SURE that you actually tried swimming IN THE OCEAN, not in one of the city sewers? Ocean swimming in TW2 is sooo refreshing. Just for the fun of it, I dropped one of them portable teleport stones on a small island with beautiful beaches where I go from time to time to train with new weapons - did you know that there are SEVEN types of weapons in this game and probably a few dozen of each kind? So, like I said, I train on the beach and on a sunny day I drop all armor and weapons and go for a swim in the ocean.
Five stars, as I explained, stand for "I love it", they don't mean that the game is perfect and I never claimed that it was. I'm glad that you noticed that I list the controversial aspects and there are a few more that should make the list, I'm sure. These may be 'game breakers' for some and you are one of them but others may find the game more playable because of the shortcuts. The ideal would be to have these as 'options', something like New Vegas' 'hard core' mode but I suspect that the makers simply couldn't afford to code all the 'game breakers' into the game. Between an imperfect game and no game that's fun to play, I take the game.
It's interesting that my other favorite RPGs of recent past are Demon's Souls which some call the most brutal and hardest console game ever. I enjoyed it so much, I played it 3.5 times over, needed that to get the platinum. TW2 is just a fun to play game and I love playing it. I'll probably miss it when I'm done with everything but I'm not there yet.
Are all the other RPGs out there 'crap'? Well... off the ones I listed I would say that the 2 Fallout were disappointments, mostly because the ancient technology and the abundance of bugs. New Vegas so much, I stopped playing right before 'end game'. On the other hand, producing a 'great' RPG is becoming extremely expensive and if we don't buy the imperfect ones there is going to be little incentive for anyone to invest into anything better so, what would be your solution? I agree that Ultima IV was a great game back 'then' and I used to take days off from work to play it on an Atari 1040ST but that was then. My kids are happily playing TW2 today but I doubt they would care much about Ultima IV if I dusted off the old 1040ST and told them to give it a try.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 7:10:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2011 8:16:11 AM PST
Well thanks for defending your review. I agree that New Vegas was a huge disappointment, I think that's part of my biggest problem with this game, was that I expected so much more. I've been dying for an epic RPG, and the early IGN reviews on this were praising it so highly, that I expected a nearly perfect offering. You're almost convincing me to try this one again, but I may mute the dialogue next time. The only thing that I just can't agree with is the attacking the guards part. I'm sure you remember the early mission where you needed a pass to enter the gate (the townsman stole my $$ after he ran thru the basement). My problem there, was that I wanted to just hack the guards and force my way through the gate, and I couldn't hit any of them. It annoyed me to the point that I stopped playing, because I felt they took my freedom away, and I like completely unbridled RPGs where anything goes. Were you able to attack the guards that early in the game, or does that ability surface later?? I have to say that Anthony's review below yours is also pretty convincing though. The enemy does tend to get stuck in the terrain more often than I'd like to see.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2011 8:50:01 AM PST
I tried the same thing and half a dozen guards came to the rescue. It's true that you can't kill that particular guard and you can't force your way through the gate. There are, I believe, 3 quests that are related to that problem. One where you get conned into parting with your money, one where you get through some backroads and one where you get some fake papers that work.
The first few cut scenes are pretty bad but it's getting a little better later on for as long as Cassara (the prophet) is not present :)
One more thing, if you don't like the way battle goes and you are still at the default 'medium difficulty' setting, you can pick the 'hard' or 'easy' modes.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2011 9:42:30 AM PST
The baboons fling pooh not rocks and I f'n love this game. This game has got great personality! -Good Review!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2011 2:53:00 PM PST
Christopher J. Benz says:
Great review Arthur D. DragonAge is strangely absent from this review and discussion - did you not play it or just don't rate it? It is surely the most anticipated fantasy RPG of the next 6 months till TES5 is ready.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2011 11:29:56 AM PST
For some reason, DA Origins did not click for me. We have the game and one of my kids played it twice but I abandoned it after a couple of hours, probably because of the graphics and its somewhat slow pace. We have Dragon Age 2 on order so I'll give it another try because I should be done with TW2 by then.
By the way, now that I took TW2 the way to 'end game', I am about to revise my review. I need to think it over for another day or 2 because I want to be fair but my score of TW2 is likely to go down by at least one star, possibly 2. Not because of all the good stuff that's in the game but because of what should and could be in it and isn't.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2011 1:55:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2011 1:56:33 PM PST
Oh yea like what? What could you possibly add to it that would decrease to two stars or maintain your rating besides frame rate issues? I mean to me this game has a lot of things that even AAA titles like Infamous or COD fail to even compare-yea I said it so what.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2011 2:04:56 PM PST
Christopher J. Benz says:
DA was pretty amazing. I didn't really start enjoying till about the 10 hour mark, so I would urge you to have another look. One of the most significant RPG's ever and Mass Effect is equally impressive. If DA2 is even as good as Origins, I'll be one happy player.