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Previews

Two Worlds II

Slaying the demons of its past with a total reboot

If it wasn't helpfully written on the menu screen, we might never have realised this was a sequel to 2007's shonky Oblivion knock-off. It's built in a completely new engine and the difference is obvious in the setting and character animation.

While it all kicks off in a familiar dungeon setting, it's got fancy lighting, proper reflections and full physics models for nearly every environmental object. At no point did the framerate crash, textures vanish, or script lapse into gibberish. What happened?

"Production has been totally taken over by our studio," says James Seaman, managing director of the Las Vegas-based TopWare Interactive.

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"We decided that we'd get some story writers in from North America, use a North American team to do the voice-overs and also produce the game from here."

All change, then, with one of the few things being carried over from the original being the story of the Dark Lord Gandohar and his relentless bloodlust for your sister. Devon Scott, a writer on Dead Space, was drafted in to create origin stories for all the main characters, and to give the script a darker, more relevant edge.

All good stuff, although we had to admit we'd miss the original faux-medieval nonsense like "forsooth" and "verily!" No problem, says TopWare: there's one village where everyone still speaks as though they're trapped in the past, a sly wink to critics of the first game.

A particularly cool new feature is a device known as the oculus. This is a floating eyeball that acts as a roaming first-person spycam. You can use it to recon the area, identify enemies that might be too tough to fight, or just detonate the oculus as a remote assassination device.

Seven new co-op missions act as an epilogue to the original game, filling in the events leading up to the new single-player campaign. Your party is restricted to four players when you're in a dungeon, but you can have up to eight when you're wandering the land. Seaman explains that there will also be a village-building mode where you'll be able to hook up with friends and trade with them.

TopWare could have easily just used the original engine to make Two Worlds II, and in fact they almost did. 'The Temptation' expansion was well underway before the developer decided on a complete reboot. From what we've seen so far, this was an excellent decision. If you'll excuse the pun, this already looks worlds apart.

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