Much has been made of the revival of role-play gaming thanks to the arrival of the latest chapter in the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion. It has huge maps, classy graphics, a lot of open-ended play and a decent storyline. With, of course, hordes of varied enemies to crush, spells to learn and weaponry to collect.
At first glance there’s not much about Two Worlds that screams innovation. For a start it concerns an ongoing war between Orcs and Humans (Middle Earth anyone?) and you play a bounty hunter with a Dark Family Secret which, once uncovered, could lead to massive destruction and bloodletting by releasing an evil god.
As you explore the vast map you gradually increase your skills, magical abilities, armour, experience and knowledge by coming into contact with new friends, foes and NPCs, and slowly the mysteries of the plot are revealed as the Fog of War dissipates. Certainly there’s nothing to leap up and down about so far, but as you look more closely, suddenly all the surprises start to emerge.
The first involves all the countless side-quests. Normally these are just an excuse to pick up some more experience points and supplies but, while this is still true here, the side-quests have an additional function which is to increase your reputation with a number of competing factions. The factions you choose to help will have a bearing on how your character and the story develops, so even at the basic level there are plenty of choices to make.
Again, the spell system has been developed on a virtual game card model whereby your main spell cards can be boosted by up to three smaller cards that will increase the potency of your magic. Also, you can create your own unique spells by combining collected elements and cooking them in a crucible, which will further enhance your abilities and weapons.
Tedious treks round the map are reduced by a network of teleports and instead of your dying being game over, you simply re-spawn at the nearest shrine, with all your weaponry, spells and completed quests, etc., intact.
Some other experiments aren’t as successful. For instance, you can ride horses, camels and exotic creatures and fight at the same time, but controlling the speed and direction of the animal is erratic at best and impossible at worst. There are also clipping problems and much clichéd pseudo-medieval dialogue that even Monty Python wouldn’t have dared invent.
But on the whole this is a welcome and engrossing evolution of the RPG genre, including an online co-operative play mode with new maps and character creation that should ensure Two Worlds will spread to many more worlds in cyberspace.
Company: South Peak