I still remember how much of a letdown the first Two Worlds was. I remember getting all hyped up about it, buying it the day it came out, popping into my 360....and after ten minutes or so getting this sickening feeling I'd just wasted sixty bucks.

However the game's unique charm eventually grew on me, to the point where I actually ended up beating the main campaign and a majority of the side quests and even ventured into the online multiplayer scene. While the game wasn't nearly as good as I had expected it to be, I still enjoyed it for what it was but I don't recall waiting long after beating it before trading it in.

With this in mind, I was naturally a tad skeptical when I first heard there was a sequel in the works and wondered if the folks over at South Peak would be able to turn the first game's disaster around. Now that I've actually played through the game, I can say that while it still stumbles a bit, Two Worlds 2 is definitely worth your time if you're looking for a new console rpg to sink your teeth into.

The game opens up fairly soon after the first game ends. The main villain who has now crowned himself emperor of all Antaloor has imprisoned you and your sister in his castle and is using your life force to "empower" your magic-wielding sibling so she can become a worthy vessel for him (or something). Your character is soon sprung free by a rag-tag group of orcs and whisked away to a remote island where it is revealed that (surprise surprise) you are the one person who can defeat the emperor and free your sister. A surprisingly intuitive and helpful tutorial system teaches you the basics of ranged, melee, and magical combat as well as introducing you to some of the game's miscellaneous  skills such as stealth, smithing, and alchemy.

An interesting "spell-cards" magic system and remappable hotkeys for your various powers and abilities as well as three separate armor/weapon sets allows you to experiment with the various methods of enemy disposal rather seamlessly and while the combat itself takes a bit of getting used to, once you have it down you can take out groups of foes with relative ease and plenty of style. Whenever you level up you're able to increase your four base attributes; strength (melee damage), endurance (health), accuracy (ranged damage), and willpower (mana and magical damage) along with whatever skills you have available. Various npc's around the world can even reset your attributes and skills for a nominal fee, allowing you to try out another character type if you regret some of your skill choices down the road.

One element of the game that truly blew me away was the world of Antaloor itself. The environments are varied and full of atmosphere, townsfolk and villagers crowd the various cities and towns you visit, and the water effects I noticed during the segments where my character had to swim where some of the best I've ever seen in any game period. If you thought games like Oblivion and Fallout had atmospheric worlds you haven't seen anything yet.

What also lends to the game's great atmosphere is the varied combat tactics of the wild creatures you encounter while exploring Antaloor's various regions. When you first start out, you'll mostly be dealing with cheetahs, rhinos, baboons, and warthogs and right off the bat you can see how much detail South Peak put into the various creature behaviors. Small, fast creatures like cheetahs and warthogs will attack you in pairs and use hit and run tactics to try and whittle down your health while larger creatures like rhinos will simply charge and try to gore you. Baboons will find high ground from which to pelt you with rocks and humanoid opponents will try to flank you or rush you with melee fighters as their archers and casters attempt to take you out from a distance.

The different areas of the game you can explore range from deserts and sort of "Egyptian" feeling landscapes to more Asian/Oriental themes and even a few European inspired environments as well. Various dungeons and in-door levels range from simple caves and ruins to elaborate temples, castles, fortresses, and urban buildings. A handy teleport stone given to you at the start of the game makes traveling to various findable teleport locations quick and easy and later on you can even find teleport platforms that allow you to create your own permanent waypoints to travel back to.

Now, despite all the good Two Words 2 has to offer, there are still a few noticeable hiccups. The text for in-game books and letters as well as your quest log is written in a small and stylized dialect that makes it hard to read without squinting your eyes. Fortunately, there's a built-in quest helper that often points you in the right direction so reading quest text isn't often necessary.  Also, unless you enjoy playing as a medieval batman wannabe, I suggest turning the volume down since the main character's voice is laughably cringe-inducing and the one-liners he spouts every time you enter combat grow old pretty quick.

The game also tends to chug a bit when combat gets really hectic, multiple enemies at once and large spell-effects being the two main culprits, but it never get so sever as to make the game unplayable. And aside from a few minor glitches and whatnot, that's about the extent of Two Worlds 2's shortcomings.

All in all, I once again recommend this game to anyone who's still on the fence and who are looking for a good rpg to hold them over until Skyrim and other next-gen games come out. I admit I never got to the multiplayer but I've heard it's worth taking a stab at, mainly because you're allowed to make your own characters as opposed to having to play the default male human in the single-player campaign. There's also an expansion due out soon that looks like it will be adding a healthy amount of content so if you still want to give Two Worlds 2 a try, now's the time.