Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two Worlds - Initial impressions

Reviewers have compared Two Worlds unfavourably to Oblivion but to be honest it feels more like a game from the Morrowind / Gothic generation. Nevertheless I am having a lot of fun in this free ranging RPG.

The new player experience is a bit off putting. The brief tutorial covers wasd movement, opening doors, how to hit stuff with a sword and nothing else. I was shocked when the tutorial ended abruptly and I was left to figure stuff out for myself. Having played this type of game I guessed there would be inventory screens, quest screens, spell book , character stats so I pressed button randomly till I found the sort of things I expected. It took me a bit longer to figure out the magic system: you can have three active spells which are assigned to number keys and/or the right mouse button. Spells even have their own power up slots where you can add artifacts which increase the usefulness of the spell. Neat. I was pleased to see that the starter character (no choices here) comes with a couple of useful spells including a fireball and a heal.

Of course you can always read the manual. It explains most of what you need to know but some stuff you still need to figure out for yourself. I don't know if this is deliberate or not but finding cool undocumented features is fun. For example I recently discovered that armour and weapons can be levelled up - a really neat feature.

Horses are another interesting feature of this game. They can be used for transport , for storage and even for combat. Two World's horses are a good bit more useful than Oblivion's leaden nags but the mounted combat doesn't come near Mount and Blade's thrilling implementation.

Two World stands out in how much they make life easy for the player (aside from the turorial). In addition to horses for transport there is a wide network of teleporters for fast travel. Horses can carry generous amounts of stuff - I actually have a second horse that I just use for storage. Quests put markers on your minimap showing you where to go. The game also has a fiendishly enthusiastic autosave system that ensures you never lose more than a few minutes play. Not that you ever really have to reload a save because there is no death penalty and the countryside is littered with resrurrection/health regeneration shrines. I believe it is even possible to respec your character if you mess up on skill point allocation but I haven't had to use that feature yet.

Given such player friendliness you may be surprised to discover that combat in the game is hard bordering on impossible for new players. No sooner are you out of the tutorial than you run into roaming bands of villans will literally whoop your ass if you try to put up a fair fight. Happily there are ways to avoid putting up a fair fight including:

  • The running around method (whack an opponent then run around while waiting for mana to recharge for a self heal),
  • The health shrine method (lure a bunch of opponents to a health ressurection shrine and kill them while your health is being constantly recharged.
  • The mana shrine method (as above only use the constant stream of mana to heal yourself).
It is worth pointing out that running away is also very effective in the game particularly if you are on a horse and your opponent is on foot.

Despite all this trickery I actually find these encounters enjoyable and the sound effects when you do eventually land a whack of your sabre on a hapless opponent is most satisfying.

For a more complete review of the game I suggest you check out Brett Todd on Gamespot.

I got this game as an unexpected present from my lovely wife. I must hang my head in shame and admit I was expecting the worst when I dutifully installed it. Apologies Mrs. mbp you did good.


Crimson Starfire said...

Oh man... you got lucky with yours... Loki, just didn't pay off for me :(

It was the thought that counted ;)

mbp said...

:) Well I can't promise I will stick with Two Worlds to the bitter end. I am having fun at the moment but I have noticed that there is a distinct lack of variety in the monsters you face. It looks like wolves have killed everything else off. These wolves change colour as they get harder. I have worked my way up to silver wolves already, I am sure pink and purple varieties await me.