Two Worlds II: Pirates of the Flying Fortress (DLC)
Pirates of the Flying Fortress is a robust standalone expansion DLC for Two Worlds II, the open world RPG from Reality Pump and Topware Interactive. There is a single player and multiplayer pack available for purchase, with the former giving around ten hours of new content spent in new areas of Antaloor and with an all new story. The multiplayer pack provides four new maps; all told, the complete DLC package provides a lot of extra content for fans of TWII.
Once you have purchased and installed Pirates, it is available from under the New Game menu option. If you have an existing character that you used in TWII, you are able to use them in Pirates, or you can just start from scratch. Should you do the latter, you can choose between Warrior, Ranger, and Mage classes, and customize an insane amount of appearance sliders to adjust your character's hair, nostril width, chin, and everything else.
Once you are satisfied with your selection, the game begins in a pub where an old pirate is being asked to recall some tales. He tells the story of your character, a skilled warrior was called upon by a certain Captain Teal. After a brief branching dialogue sequence and a couple of cutscenes, you find yourself in a strange land and in the brig of Teal's ship. After proving to him that you are the skilled man that he had requested, he begins to reveal his plan.
Apparently, a flying ship had frightened most of his crew away, and they believe that it is cursed. Teal needs help to find a certain treasure though, one that is described in some old scripts. It is said to give the beholder of the treasure the thing he wants most. Teal is also seeking the company of a specific woman named Maren, an apparent lost love, that is somewhere on the islands. He isn't interested in providing you too many details at this point, but these are you main quests to start with. As you progress, you begin to realize that there is a lot more to the remaining crewman and to Teal himself. Deceit is commonplace, and the story does a pretty good job of keeping you on your toes.
For anyone that has played TWII, the gameplay is the same. I should point that if you start Pirates without having imported your previous character, you begin at level 42 and have numerous skill points to assign to a variety of disciplines. Pirates elevates your character rather highly, but I noticed the enemies aren't quite as up to par as you are. For skilled RPGers, the challenge isn't all that significant, but it's no cakewalk either (although I'm not a very skilled RPGer). There are a variety of monsters, including plenty of new standard monsters and bosses too. It's up to the player to figure out the best weapon and strategy to use against them, as they all have different protections and weaknesses.
Pirates is a straight-forward expansion in that it does not really change the gameplay for better or worse, or at least not very significantly. Of course there is new content and items, including horse armor and new weapons, but as far as how the mechanics work and the general flow of the game, it's very much the same. There are however new books you can find that reveal more details of the sprawling world of Antaloor, which should interest passionate fans of the Two Worlds games. So, if you're liked me and enjoyed TWII, although it has its quirks, you will enjoy Pirates, but otherwise don't expect Pirates to change your mind.
In terms of presentation, Pirates is on par with TWII, meaning it has both its positives and negatives. The cutscenes and character facial expressions are still a little robotic, and there is a lot of clipping and other graphical quirks like objects (especially in cutscenes) suddenly appearing out of nowhere. All of the graphical glitches are more so just affirmation that this isn't exactly AAA material, and that some additional engine tweaking is in order, but the total package is still very good and even great at times.
Some of the cooler graphical examples I thought was a a distant, large moon illuminating the sea as you go for a late night island-to-island trip or, hell, even a swim. The lighting effects are also quite nice at times, especially in darker areas with torches. While not as good as Uncharted 3's torch-lit graphics that I experienced this past week, Pirates has some mighty impressive lighting and environmental scenery of its own.
As I continue my quest through Pirates, I'm finding it to be a solid expansion pack. It takes the original game, extends the universe with an interesting new story and characters, and gives the player a lot of quality content to explore. At the same time, it doesn't push the actual gameplay in any new direction or improves upon what was there, but that's easy to forgive if you enjoyed the original experience.
To the summary...