PAX Prime 2011: TopWare Interactive

I had the pleasure of checking out some of TopWare’s newest offerings this morning. I was genuinely surprised and impressed by some of what they had to show me. So, let’s dive right in..

First off was Reality Pump’s expansion of Two Worlds 2. The expansion is titled “Pirates Of The Flying fortress,” which was originally going to be a part of Two Worlds 2 at launch. It was explained to me that as development on the title continued, the idea of “Pirates Of The Flying Fortress” began to expand beyond the over-all narrative that the development team had in mind. So, it was shelved for the time, with a hope that it could be returned to at a later date. Which is exactly what they’ve done here, and they have taken it several steps further. Jake DiGennaro explained that the team was highly focused on improving the game in general and not just dropping a piece of download content with a few quests. This game felt completely new; yes it was Two Worlds 2, and yes it was on the Grace engine, but the lighting and textures have been improved to a point that the game truly looks striking at moments. For instance, the sunset I witnessed had fantastic god-rays breaking against clouds. The team at Reality Pump also put a lot into improving the dynamics of the world around you, making everything feel far more alive. The water was not just sparkly, flat nonsense, it waved and rolled in a realistic manner.  The trees also swayed randomly in the wind, and not in some static pattern.

Something I should mention is how absolutely annoyed I was by the first Two Worlds and its screen lag. The screen lag killed what I felt could have been a fantastic game for me. I witnessed zero screen lag, and I know I had seen it in demos of Two Worlds 2 beforehand; it was altogether missing, and I commend the team at Reality Pump for putting so much time into fine tuning the subtle details of TW2′s world.  I was shown an extensive demo, including a handful of levels. The one I was most struck by was a “Fragmented Dream” world that had beautiful Sepia tones and a slightly altered camera view. The dream world was striking visually, and I was told it was a large part of “Pirates Of the Flying Fortress’s” plot. This expansion really looks to serve TW2′s world well, as everything I was shown looked very different from the general fantasy vibe of the first and second games. That’s not to say that it doesn’t fit well into the TW2 universe, but it will do a superb job of opening up new avenues, and allowing for what feels like natural progression of the TW2 universe.

Not only was I shown the demo, but I was told about the upcoming Game of the Year edition. This was probably what I was most impressed with.  Dubbed “The Velvet Edition,” it will come with not only the expansion and the patch improving TW2′s code somewhat, but it will come at the same cost as TW2. This is a re-issuing, not just a release. I can’t say how awesome I think this is. In an age where developers are trying to squeeze every penny out of gamers, it was more than good to hear about a publisher/developer doing something more for us. So, as my last word on Two Worlds 2, I recommend to everyone who didn’t like the first, and never gave the second a real chance… Try this, give it a shot. And to everyone else, this October I hope you’ll be at the stores to grab a copy of the TW2′s Velvet Edition (expect future coverage on Two Worlds 2′s expansion here at Platform Nation).

The second game we talked about, and I was unable to see unfortunately, was “Raven’s Cry” from Octane games, which is only a month out of pre-development. I have little details, but I did see a live action teaser and heard a bit about what they are trying to do. “This isn’t your Disney pirates” was one line used to describe the games vibe.. That was a pretty accurate description for what I did get to see, which was bloody, gritty, and in general soaked in potential awesome. I look forward to seeing more of this, and if you are a fan of Pirates, this is something to keep an eye on.

Scivelation was the last game that was shown to me and I was completely floored by the concept. “Scivelation is a third person shooter / action – adventure set in a unique, far-future dystopia, which aims from the very first moments of gameplay to thrust the player into the world with total immersion” – a quote about that game that does not serve its over-all plot or theme justice. I think few words will. Like Bioshock, Scivelation aims to do something more than just be another dystopian adventure. It involves themes of the christian apocalypse, which has already occurred in the world of Scivelation. A group called the Regime, a zealot religious organization, controls everything. They have created what basically serves as a theocracy, and its presence is widely visible in the world.

I only got to see one level which was in Vienna, and the mixture of old Vienna architecture and cyberpunk noir was just stunning in general. I really can’t say enough about this game’s themes, and what the game is trying to achieve. Even after only being out of pre-development for four months, the game looked pretty great. A mix of Splinter Cell and Assassins Creed would be the most apt description. The female character I saw demoed favored stealth, but the male protagonist has a more run and gun style, and that the two main characters will offer replayability and a chance to see the world from different perspectives as some situations might require you to play as one or the other.  This means having the ability to experience character specific dialogue and other unique gameplay and story elements.  I have so much more I want to say about this game, but I am going to save that for another article which will come soon.

So, all in all I was very impressed with what I was shown and told. TopWare is trying to do some unique things; after talking with Jake and Adam for a while, I really felt like a lot of what they are doing is not about making money (granted all publishers/developers must make a profit). There was an edge of honesty in what they were doing. Topware and its devs are really rolling the dice with some of these titles and ideas. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out for them.

Make sure to keep an eye out, as we will be posting videos and more images of what we saw.

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