I’ll be honest, I never really played much of Two Worlds 2. When I heard that I was doing the review of Two Worlds 2: Pirates of the Flying Fortress, I admit that I was a bit concerned, simply because I knew how large the original game was, and taking on an expansion without playing the original game was a daunting task. So it was with some trepidation that I started to play Two Worlds 2. The problem was, I couldn’t get into it. Even after the last patch, the character animations were clunky, some of the artwork simply did not work, my character seemed to move like he was walking through molasses, and the horse travel was insanely annoying.
Of course, as it turns out, Two Worlds 2: Pirates of the Flying Fortress (or TW2: PotFF from here on) is actually a stand-alone expansion, although it ties into the original game quite nicely. You can either take your character from TW2 or create a new character at level 42 (about 2/3 of the way to 43). If you choose to do this, you only have a choice between fighter (melee), ranger (archery) and mage (magic), although you can tweak your character a bit further once created. You can also use your character from the base game, but you’ll likely want to have a character about the same level.
Once you’re in the game, you’ll find that it takes place as a story being told as a tavern tale. People are talking to an old pirate, and want to know stories about Captain Teal. When asked which story, the pirate’s asked for the one where Captain Teal lost all of his men. Of course, this story begins with you, the one with the jailbreak. At some point, you’re met by Jack, one of Captain Teal’s men, and you’re told that Captain Teal has a job for you. You’re given a bracelet and a special phrase.
The next cut scene will show you finding the pirates as Captain Teal is about to kill a man for some reason. The man pleads with the captain but to no avail, as Captain Teal runs him through, ending his life. As you’re watching, however, you fail to notice a pirate approaching…and he knocks you unconscious. The next thing you know, you’re in the brig, and challenged by the Captain as to why you’re there. This is where the previously-mentioned code phrase comes in handy as it serves to get you out of jail and onto the first part of the main quest, which is to find a treasure which will lead to the finder’s greatest desire, which may or may not be a woman named Maren.
If you choose to create a new character, you’ll find here that you’re given a full set of armor, multiple weapons of all different types, a store of materials to craft with, jewelry and 30,000 auras. Also, you’ve got your primary skills set, but you’re given approximately 35 skill points with which to round out your character.
One thing that I noticed right off is that the game played much easier at the beginning than the original game did. Part of this is due to the difficulty being not quite as steep from the get-go, but also because your character’s movement is much-increased due to higher stats (which personally gives me hope for the original game as well).
Graphically, there were numerous changes made to the lighting which really makes for some impressive visuals both while fighting and while sight-seeing. It isn’t perfect, as there are still some graphical glitches in the game including clipping and some weird lighting issues during the new thunderstorms (which are specific only to the new areas of the game, unfortunately). The characters also look much better, with some really solid facial expressions and character body designs, although for some reason arms and fingers look really strange to me at various times, and the characters still continue to make odd gestures and poses that don’t really seem to mesh with what’s going on. Also, periodically in cut scenes the voices and mouth animations won’t match up leading to some syncing issues.
TW2: PotFF adds approximately 25% more to the single-player game world in the form of two large islands and numerous smaller ones. This also means that you have the ability to travel via boat as well as new horses specific to the area. While I still don’t particularly enjoy horse movement, I have to say that traveling by boat is much more interesting as well as a bit challenging as you have to pay attention to the wind so that you’re not becalmed. It’s not a galley with cannons and a crew, but it gets the job done.
The sound has always been a strength of Two Worlds 2, and this continues with dramatic music for both the cut-scenes and battles, as well as solid ambient sounds, creatures and the like. The voice acting in the game has much improved with a number of new actors, although there are times that I wish the balance between voice levels and overall sound levels were more even. To be honest though, this is a minor nitpick in the scheme of things.
The majority of the gameplay hasn’t really changed, although the addition of horseback combat, such as charging with polearms, is very nice and horse armor means that you can keep your mount alive much longer. In addition to the approximately 10 to 15 hours of play time added to the single-player game, there are four new multiplayer maps, new items and monsters, and tons of areas to explore.
Really, one of the only things that I didn’t much care for in this game was the fact that it was much less about pirates than the name might suggest. While you’re doing some quests for the pirates, it’s not like you’re in command of a pirate ship, or constantly dealing with the scourge of the seas, just more high fantasy adventuring. Admittedly, there’s little wrong with this when it comes right down to it.
TW2: PotFF is available both as the standard expansion for $29.99 as well as the Velvet Game of the Year edition. While I reviewed this on the PC, the expansion is also available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, which includes all of the patched improvements which were PC/Mac only to this point. If you already have Two Worlds 2 and enjoyed it, it’s definitely worth picking up the expansion. If you enjoy open-world RPGs with real-time action-based combat, it’s definitely worth considering a purchase of the Velvet edition once it’s released.