Oblivion vs Risen vs Two Worlds vs Torchlight

Okay, it’s admittedly an odd comparison. To a degree. Some would point out the obvious similarities between Risen, Oblivion and Two Worlds, but scratch their heads at Torchlight being included. For those of you that are curious where I’m going with this, read on.

Of the four games listed above, I’ve played Two Worlds the most out of all of them. Now, that’s completely unfair to Torchlight, I know: I only got it yesterday evening and have only had time enough to log maybe an hour, wandering the mines beneath the title village.

But I’ve had Risen for at least two weeks and Oblivion (on my 360) for far longer than that. So why am I playing Two Worlds so much? It all boils down to the ways that Two Worlds is similar to Torchlight, and dissimilar to the other two games. And in my opinion, in this case, dissimilar = vastly superior. Yeah, so Two Worlds is … unpolished. That’s true. And many would argue the voiceovers to be the work of masochists, intent on forcing you into ripping off both of your own ears, in the style of Van Gogh. And that would sort of also be true. I say ‘sort of’, because if you listen to/play the game long enough, it becomes one of those so truly bad, it’s good sorta things. And I mean TRULY bad. But I really do laugh at the ridiculous things your character says, and the reaches to which the NPCs attempt to stretch the believability of their blacksmith’s tragic flaws. It’s ridiculous, but it’s fun. Hey, when I’m in a cave surrounded by a huge group of grinning skeletons that are all intent on turning me into paste, and my character says “hmmm… looks like my in-laws.” in this awesome gravelly deadpan, I can’t help but laugh.

And that is why I love this game. That and a buncha other stuff I’ll get into in a minute.

You see, Oblivion and especially Risen just don’t have that kind of sense of humor. Oblivion to me feels like every city or building or cave I go into is populated by little cardboard cutout popups that are all voiced by about 3 people. I know I’m not the only one to have noticed this. Yeah, I know it’s big and deep and all sorts of vast and stuff, but I don’t really care. I don’t really feel I’m exploringdifferent places in Oblivion. I feel like I’m exploring randomized world generator, which is quite a feat, considering I don’t think it’s really randomized. Or generated. I play for a while and get so overwhelmed by how big and imposing… and boring it all is, I quit. I really try to like the game, honest I do. And I can see all the things that people get giggly about. I just can’t play it.

So how come not Risen? Well, I like Risen. For the most part. And until I started playing Two Worlds a lot, I was really getting into Risen. It does some really awesome things. Most notably, the feeling of adventure you get when exploring; this feels like a real world, with dangerous creatures and dangerous people. And those people feel real, with their different motivations and alliances. The graphics make the different areas in the world especially evocative, with the fog and the various sounds. The first time I wandered through the swamp, I was on the edge of my chair, sure something would jump out at me at any second. And it did. Awesome. It’s a beautifully realized world, with a very definitive sense of progression. So what’s not to like? Hm. For me, I find the difficulty punishing. I know it’s supposed to be punishing. But for my dollars, I really don’t want to relyon the Quickload key so much. Yeah, I know I’m weak. I get it. But you know something? Dying that much isn’t fun. I know I can run away. I know I can go do more quests and level up and train up and stuff and then come back to fight whatever’s killing me so much. But that’s not fun or heroic. That’s grindy. And sure, it may be a bit more real, but I don’t buy games for realism, I buy them to have fun. And smacking F9 in frustration 14 times an hour just doesn’t cut it.

I know others will say they like the difficulty and that I’m wrong here, and fair enough. I recognize that it’s a deliberate choice by PB to make it this difficult. And I also get the reasoning; with difficulty comes a massive sense of achievement when you overcome that obstacle. I chalk it up to simply not being my kind of fun. Other than that, I have other nitpicks about Risen: I’m not fond of having to learn how to do every little thing from a Trainer in town before I can do it. Yeah, it adds to their character and progression and all, but sometimes I just wanna be able todo it, you know? Give me a panel and let me distribute my points. Don’t make me jump through 14 hoops of trekking back to town, wandering around, finally finding the trainer, doing their introductory quest, coming back, finally opening up their training dialog, only to find I don’t have enough cash to bump that skill as much as I wanted. That just makes me mad. Once again, I know why they did it, I just don’t like it. So maybe Risen’s not for me. I’m going to keep playing it for sure, just not right at the moment.

At the moment I’m absorbed by Two Worlds. It seems to me that TW is a blend of Oblivion, Gothic, and Diablo. An RPG love child. Or lust child, if you prefer. In my opinion, if you go into playing TW knowing that this was the goal – and that it’s not just a blatant Oblivion knockoff – then you’ll like it a helluva lot better. That’s because TW does everything it can to just keep you playing, hour after hour. Don’t like to quickload? No problem, you don’t have to. Death doesn’t damage you in the least, except for the minor inconvenience of running back to wherever it was you died. Don’t like to have to save your game all the time, “just in case”? The game does it for you, every few minutes. Want a seamless world, populated by tons of NPCs, gigantic nasty monsters, and most importantly tons and tons of loot?Yep, it’s all here. Most importantly the tons and tons of loot. This is the open world RPG for Diablo-aholics. And on top of that, it does loot even better than the famed Diablo 2, in my opinion. This is where TW is very similar to Torchlight (and this is as far as I go in comparing the two, at least for now); this isn’t really a deep, complex, morally ambiguous RPG (although I’d argue that it certainly has those elements as well if you dig that sorta thing) – this is an Action RPG in an open world. Make no bones about it, this game is all about stealing every little thing that isn’t nailed down. Hell, there’s even a hidden mission where you can open the gates of a city so that it’s destroyed by an invading Orc army…. which you do solely so that you can loot every single NPC and house in the city afterwards. That is nine kinds of awesome right there.

So how come the loot here is so freaking spectacular? Well… that’s cause the devs realized how useless most loot is until you get to higher levels. The typical grind to get higher so that you can get better stuff. What they did is make all the loot that is the same STACKABLE. So if you have 4 Craptastic Forks of the Lemur, you can stack them all on top of each other to make yourself an UBER Craptastic Fork of the Lemur. It’s so effective, you might even stick with one of these modified lower-level weapons for a huge chunk of the game, by upgrading it. The crazy thing is, because you can keep upgrading things, it makes you loot everything and everybody even more. There are no nooks or crannies that can go overlooked. Trust me on this, you will become a klepto in this game. And it’s beautiful.

Not stopping there, the same thing goes for magic, which works on a card-based system. Got 3 Fireball cards? Awesome, cause now you’ve got one bigass fireball you can kill stuff with. On top of that, you get boosters that pump up whichever spell you apply them to. They can do everything from speeding up your spells to making them cost less or do more damage. It’s seriously awesome… all in the name of allowing you to cause more destruction. Which is all in the name of more sweet loot.

I could talk about a bunch of other things I love, like the immediate distribution of skill points when you level up. Or the skill points you get when you complete Achievements – ie: killing 100 groms. Or the fact that everything is marked simply on your map, from quest objectives to caves you find. Or that there’s teleports for quick travel all around the world. Or the cauldron in your inventory that lets you save recipes of awesome potions you’ve made, for easy recreating. Perhaps you’d like to hear about the time it started raining and my dude went, “hmmm. I’m wet.” Or how he occasionally says “I’m ALIVE!” after I get resurrected at a shrine.

It’s just ridiculous. And awesome. Can’t wait for the even more ridiculously named Two Worlds 2. You’d think they might have thought to just call it ‘The Second World’. But that would have been… well, what you might have expected. And it’s not nearly ridiculous enough.

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