Two Worlds, the 2007 Oblivion knock-off, was rubbish. James Seaman, managing director of US studio TopWare Interactive, has flown thousands of miles to tell us why Two Worlds II won't be.
It's a weird set-up: James isn't actually from Reality Pump, the Polish developer behind the original and its sequel. He's from TopWare Interactive, the small US studio that believes Two Worlds has the potential to be something great. To that end, they're lending Reality Pump a helping hand, taking charge of writing, voice over recording and pretty much project managing the entire show.
Two things jump out at us as we see the Xbox 360 version of the game in action. One) It looks a hell of a lot better than the original - and thank the fantasy lord it does! In terms of visuals, Two Worlds was the video game equivalent of that toilet from Trainspotting. With the sequel, however, Reality Pump is using the Grace engine, specifically designed to power the game, to craft the PC, 360 and PS3 versions simultaneously.
It's not jaw-dropping stuff, but there are moments that catch the eye. The player running into a hanging torch that then moves; the dynamic lighting casting creepy shadows along castle dungeon walls; the heat haze from a burning wreath; the smudged reflection of the player as he walks in front of an old mirror - it's all nice on the eyes, and, compared with the first game, looks generations ahead. "In Two Worlds one, and in a lot of RPGs, there's a lot of the same furniture in different rooms," James smirks. "We've tried to make every single room unique."
The second thing that jumps out at us is that most essential, but often overlooked, component of the RPG: words. One of the worst things about Two Worlds - and there were many - was the dialogue. "Verily", "forsooth" - words consigned to the vocabulary dustbin hundreds of years ago resurrected for use in a video game. It didn't work. It was embarrassing.
"We realised what happened in the first game and where we needed to go," James admits. "We were happy with the graphics being done on the Grace engine, but could never go down that road again where people in Poland were trying to write a worldwide game in English." Thankfully, what that means for players is, Two Worlds II makes sense.