Most of the time, when you come across a game with “Lite” in the title, it’s either bare bones when it comes to features or too short to really do anything. But TopWare Interactive has recently released a preview, of sorts, for its upcoming title Two Worlds II. Available for a number of platforms, we took a look at Two Worlds II: Castle Defense Lite, for the iOS and were pleasantly surprised at how complete this game feels.
Technically a tower defense game, Two Worlds II hides its traditional elements well with constantly growing challenges that tailor themselves to how well the player is doing. It gives a level of control that is uncommon in most of the genre. At times too easy, and at others overwhelming, it’s a decent challenge to say the least with the only complaints stemming from minor usability issues.
In a typical fantasy style, orcish armies are marching upon a human stronghold. For the record, this does actually look pretty cool with a fully rendered cinematic. Regardless, a small band has broken off and is attempting to kill the human leader, Emperor Gandohar, and thus the player must bolster the defenses of the throne room to keep waves of ever growing enemies at bay. Lite though the game may be, the scenario is long enough to feel about the same length, on average, as most full games on either iPhone or iPad.
The concept is simple: At one end of the map is the emperor and on the other end, stream in hordes of orcs. The objective: Don’t let him die. Between the two points, small circles dubbed “spawn points” indicate where new friendly units can be summoned. Additionally, some will appear orange, indicating that it is “enchanted” and will provide significant boosts to any unit summoned upon it.
As the waves of enemies increase, so too will the types of soldiers the player can summon. This is where resource management and choice come into play. Unlike other tower defense games, the enemy will not march blindly through defenses. They actually fight back, thus players must select the proper types of units to deal with such advances.
There are six units available – swordsman, archer, necromancer, priest, royal guard, and mage – and each comes with its own set of unique abilities. For example, necromancers are expensive but can slow down enemy attacks, while priests can heal friendly units. Of course, since more powerful units tend to cost more money the choice on what to buy can often be a difficult one.
While money is earned for defeating enemies or completing waves, there is often a lot more going out than in. This is because units can not only be upgraded, but can have spells cast on them by the player themselves. So long as gold is available, players can instantly heal units, revive them after death (for a short period of time), conceal them from enemy sight (good for ambushes), or teleport them to any other spawn point on the map.
What does ease this choice is that upgrades and more units may not always be necessary. You see, the emperor is also a unit that players can control and can cast special spells that can aide friendly forces during battle. However, one has to be very careful with saving too much gold. As one of the more interesting features to Two Worlds II, the more gold one has, the more frequent and intense the orc waves tend to be.
To further spice things up, the game tends to through a few curve balls as it progresses. A good example was when orcs started to attack from a new direction (in addition to where they had already been coming from), that set them behind our defenses. We won’t say where, but it did come as a surprise simple because they had been coming from one spot for an extended period of time, and rarely do tower defense style games do this in the middle of a wave. Luckily, the game lets you pause the battle at any time to manage your units.
Sometimes, though, this makes it a bit too easy; especially with the teleport power. Nevertheless, this ability is also where one of the few, minor, usability issues come into play. When teleporting, the game shows all the potential spawn points, but doesn’t actually tell the user if it’s been occupied. Well, there’s a unit there or not right? Not always. Many of the units do not just stand on the point. Swordsman, for example move away to engage nearby enemies, and teleporting a new unit to its spawn point will swap the two’s positions, taking the melee unit off the front line, leaving weaker armored ranged units vulnerable.
As another minor issue, the game doesn’t really tell the user how to play when they hit play, other than a single screen showing what icons mean. There is, however, a tutorial in the bottom left corner of the main menu signified by the “i” symbol for information. It’s not a big deal, but it isn’t exactly the first place most users are going to gravitate to with a giant “play” button. Even so, playing without the tutorial first just leads to some fumbling about rather than total failure.
Despite these minor complaints, Two Worlds II: Castle Defense is a great free game for both the iPad and the iPhone. What is even more surprising, is that it is merely a “lite” version, yet feels as strong as the average full iOS game; even more so with full cut scenes and high quality sound design (of course, TopWare is larger than most iOS game developers, with many console games under its belt). As for the full version of Two Worlds II, a PC and console version will supposedly be available come the 25th, while a new iOS rendition is simple stated at being sometime in Q1. With the quality found within just this preview version, we look forward to seeing what the full version will bring to the table, and at the very least, recommend this lite title to any tower defense or strategy fans.