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E for Effort: Forsooth

5:00 PM on 04.18.2010 // Beyamor

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I considered trying to be "clever" with this month's topic. You know, "E for Effort: Every game ever because I'm making a statement." Or maybe an empty blog because, hey, I respect the topic, but like hell can I be bothered to write about.

I quickly realized two things: a) I am not clever and b) this was an opportunity to write about the game that I cite time and time again as a shining example of effort wrapped in a decidedly unshiney package. I hope you've mastered your gag reflex, dear reader, because this is going to be rough. 

Oh yes. Two Worlds. When I thought about failures in gaming, this one stood out like a lighthouse calling me in, a lighthouse that doesn't guide sailors to safety but instead lures them into a bay filled with sharp rocks, mines, and mega piranhas, creating a field of shipwrecks so large it could be mistaken for a second world. And then there would be two worlds. Whew, got a little unruly, but I think I pulled it back on topic. Okay, next paragraph!

There is so much wrong with this game that describing it all would fill every tube of the Internet, but more importantly, there are enough things that are just so right with it, whether that means so bad it's good or legitimately endearing, that it's earned a place in my heart. I can barely stand to look at it and I couldn't say whether anyone actually enjoys it, but I'm glad it was made.

Now, for those of you who are somehow unaware, Two Worlds is a traditional western RPG. It's sort of like Oblivion, if Oblivion spent too long staring into the sun and as a result of sun-blindness, fell down some stairs. And after falling down the stairs it acted out its confusion about the inexplicable force of gravity it was subject to by trying to pummel the steps into submission using its own frontal lobe as a blunt weapon. Look, it, uh, it wasn't put together all that well, is the gist of what I'm getting at. With that said, how about we break it down and look at what this game's got going for it and maybe even why it matters in a broader sense.

And we will get to the good, but first, look at that. Drink it in. That's so bad it swings back around and punches a grin onto your face.

If you can't laugh at Two Worlds' ridiculously awful dialogue, you are a robot. Congratulations, the world will someday be under your mechanical thumb but in the interim, get a laugh track installed because this is amazing. Have you ever mocked bad renaissance acting? Gone all out, thrown in some "verily"s and "wherefore"s when it felt right? Great, you are now qualified to contribute to Two Worlds. You answered no? Even better. I can't do these words justice. Instead, let me simply express that producing enough of this stuff to fill a game should earn you some kind of medal. Do they make medals out of cheese, because that would be perfect.

It's worth dedicating a paragraph alone to the protagonist's considerable vocal talents. I hate to mention anything relating to American Idol (the fantastically talented Kelly Clarkson notwithstanding), but whoever brought us this aural masterwork was the William Hung of voice actors, except that talking about him doesn't fill me with a dark, violent anger. From the acting that is quite shamelessly worse than everything else in the game, to the disconcertingly enthusiastic response he gives to respawning, everything that drops from his mouth is like rich delicious cheesecake and take it on faith that cake from another man's mouth is still pretty tasty.

Rather than continue to flay the amusement out of the joke, let me say that the animations have the campy quality of claymation, the horses control like, well, no, they don't, and you really should play the game if for no other reason than to fully understand what everyone's laughing about. Part of the beauty of Two Worlds is the glorious effigy of failure it is and for that alone I'm tremendously happy that I got to play this game. That said, not everything about Two Worlds was, in fact, the manifestation of awful the game is heralded as. Some of the ideas it had were actually pretty good.

For one, they implemented this stacking system where you could add duplicate items together to create a single, slightly stronger version of the same piece, sort of like layering socks in the winter and then stapling them together. This meant the disappointment of finding your thirteenth elven longsword was somewhat mitigated by being able to combine it with the others to create a marginally stronger elven longsword. Huzzah. It wasn't perfect, but it helped alleviate the tedium of loot collecting by making the pieces you found more useful.

By including traps and special moves, combat become more interesting than something like Oblivion where it boiled down to holding down attack and wondering if your +12 Belt of Fancy did anything. Even when fighting in Two Worlds became more about exploiting animations and fleeing like an ungainly mouse, it was still engaging. Moreover, finding one of the seemingly godly super spells left you feeling like a tank shooting at dandelions and that in itself was pretty jazzy. So, yes, while the action on the whole was clunky and arduous, there were moments where that faded into the background and a downright enjoyable game shone through.

Really, the game had its fair share of good ideas, most of which were brought down by their implementation or the quality of the elements they depended on. The gameworld was pretty darn big, for example, and filled with its own cast of redonkulous monsters, including fish people for no reason in particular. There was this idea of killing things having real consequence as there was only a finite number of enemies and it ensured the player's presence was felt in the world. Even the mounts were almost good, both by way of being a very practical combination of transport and suitcase and simply looking cool, even without any nifty horse armour.

Two Worlds is a failure. This is not a game that will go down as a triumph of gaming. However, failure isn't some binary state, rarely is something either pure greatness or utterly abysmal. Even though there's more bad than good here, there is good, things that can be enjoyed, and that's true both in laughing at its shortcomings and taking the time to appreciate what the game does right. It's probably fair to hate Two Worlds but at the same time, I can love it for what it is and respect it for what it tried to be. It can be worth taking a look at flawed games like this because even failures may bring with them some success. Verily.

This promoted blog was written for our April Monthly Musing assignment, "E For Effort." You too could get promoted if you write something about games you hate but respect over on the Community Blogs.

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