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Two Worlds


Take an early quest, where having spent a while building up your reputation with a ruling feudal lord, you are offered a further task - one which involves threatening the wife of a suspected rebel in order to extract information from him. Trying my best to role-play, and feeling that my character wouldn't want to threaten an innocent woman, I decided not to do it.

Apparently, doing this somehow released the woman from her cell - at which point the feudal lord attacked me, leaving me with no choice but to kill him. I promptly became a legendary hero among the rebels, whom I'd never met, and had only assisted by accident because of selecting a seemingly unimportant conversation option. Similarly, you can turn entire cities (including many quest characters) against you by picking the lock on a door, even when nobody is looking. This isn't choice - it's just a steady tumble from accident to accident.

It is assisted somewhat by the fact that the game is, for the most part, spectacularly easy. Once we'd gone a couple of hours in, we never again encountered a foe that actually threatened our heroic chap in any way - suggesting a huge problem in the balance of the game. That's even without using the dodge button, an addition to combat which, after a few minutes of training, allowed us to effectively dodge nearly every attack in the game.

Five hours in, we could wipe out entire villages by walking in and swinging our sword around a bit - with, seemingly, little consequence, since the villagers half a mile down the road still welcomed us in and didn't mention a thing about the ghost town we'd just created. Even on the rare occasions when we did die (jumping off things worked nicely for that), you simply resurrect at a nearby shrine with no equipment or XP loss.

These guards probably saw you picking a lock in someone's attic through six stone walls. If David Cameron wants to reform the British police force, he should just draft in some of these guys.

There are some quite nice ideas in place in terms of equipment and inventory - the most notable being the ability to combine multiple copies of the same item, creating a higher level version of the item in the process. This is great for freeing up inventory space - while an alchemy system allows you to combine elements you find into more powerful (and more useful) items, such as gems that add magical effects to your weapons. Similarly, you can boost the effect of magical attacks by attaching special "booster cards" to slots on your magic screen, which is a nice system that's sadly mostly wasted on this game.

Verily, verily, verily, verily.

The fact that the rest of the game is so weak - and yet in some ways, so promising, since we'd love another Oblivion-style free roaming RPG to play around in - draws unwanted attention to another of the developer's major sins. This is, frankly, one of the worst PC to console ports we've ever played - quite clearly an unloved and unwanted side-project from a developer that knows nothing about console gaming, and cares even less.

Horrible framerate and graphics aside (acceptable, sort of, on the PC where players can adjust settings or buy better equipment - totally out of bounds on a console), the game suffers terribly from a total lack of thought or consideration in the transition to the Xbox 360.

Working on your stealth skills allows you to get one-hit kills on unsuspecting foes, which is one of the game's stronger points.

The interface - especially in the inventory and map screens - is quite clearly designed for a mouse and keyboard, and controlling it with a joypad feels clunky and awkward. Even simply giving us a virtual mouse pointer to push around with an analogue stick would have been better than this - as it is, your cursor bounces from place to place and often gets stuck and refuses to move on to the object you want to highlight. Another jaw-dropping example of misunderstanding console gaming lies in the Alchemy system - where creating a new concoction saves it in your potion list, usually as "New Potion", and you must rename it laboriously using the on-screen keyboard.

The save system, too, is pure PC gaming - and very traditional PC gaming, at that. Two Worlds has no auto-saves, no checkpoints, nothing. If you don't save the game manually - by pulling up the main menu screen and selecting Save - the game saves precisely nothing of your progress. For PC gamers, who can set up a shortcut on an F-key and press it every few minutes, that's fine. To console gamers used to checkpoints and the ability to turn the machine off with impunity, this is simply anathema.

Finally, it's not just that too little has changed on the way from console to PC. One major change has occurred - and sadly, it's a very negative one. Where co-op multiplayer is a big hook of Two Worlds on the PC, the Xbox 360 version of the game has found itself castrated in this department - probably with a large rusty knife.

Does the armour mean he's evil, or just a rather peculiar fetishist? Who can say, eh?

Where the PC version features large, persistent worlds for co-op play in an almost MMO style environment, the Xbox 360 version restricts you to eight players and a set of one-off maps for specific quests or deathmatch encounters. RPG players have been hoping for ages for a great co-op game in this mould; Two Worlds quite certainly is not that game. We may as well put the boot in and point out that when we found a couple of friends we could talk into experimenting in the multiplayer with us, we also ended up with so much lag and such awful framerates that we suspect we've lost their friendship forever. Sorry, guys.

Two Worlds, in other words, is a mess - a game which was very average but quite charming on the PC, where its occasional clever ideas could blossom, but whose conversion process to the Xbox 360 has left it staggering around like a former pop princess relaunching her career at a high-profile music awards ceremony.

If you're absolutely desperate for a further dose of free roaming RPG action after finishing up with Oblivion.... No, even at that, we can't recommend Two Worlds to you, except possibly as a cure that will put you entirely off the idea. Unless you're astonishingly tolerant of technical and interface problems, and totally addicted to dull hack-and-slash RPG combat, don't buy this game. Forsooth.

4 / 10
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About the Author
Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey


Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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