Torchlight II Review
Game: Torchlight II
Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Perfect World
Available on: Windows PC Only
The first Torchlight was released in 2009 for the PC and (after a lot of fans asking for it) was finally released on Xbox LIVE Arcade early last year. We’ve finally gotten the second instalment of the hugely popular Action-RPG from Runic Games and it promises to be even more impressive that that first title. With the addition of a full multiplayer option, more story and even more of those gorgeous cinematics from Klei Entertainment, it has certainly got a lot going for it, but can it live up to everything that people are wanting from it?
If you’re a regular visitor to GodisaGeek.com (and you really should be) then you’ll have already seen the impressive First 20 Minutes of Torchlight II, but does the rest of the game follow suit? I know we’re all hoping so.
STORY: Despite the game being called “Torchlight” you’ll spend very little time in the titular village, the village that you spend the entirety of the game under during the first Torchlight game. Instead, Torchlight gets destroyed in the opening cinematic (don’t worry, it’s not much of a spoiler, it literally happens in the first 30 seconds and can even be seen in the First 20 Minutes video that we posted last week) and you’ll spend the rest of the game travelling round the world protecting all of the Guardians from the Alchemist who’s trying to drain their power in order to control the Ember that’s coursing through his veins.
It’s your typical high fantasy story, all based around magic, intrigue and crazy wizards that are hell-bent on destroying the world, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have fun with it from the moment you start the game to the moment you watch the credits roll at the end. There’s no doubt that the story is far more impressive than the story in the original, where all you had to was descend into the dungeons underneath Torchlight. If you’re waiting to hear whether the story in Torchlight II is up to scratch then wonder no more; it’s stunning.
GRAPHICS: The second Torchlight looks much like the first one did, with an aesthetic that looks similar to World of Warcraft in some areas. However, that doesn’t mean that it looks bad in any way, in fact some areas of the game, such as the dungeons that you’ll frequent towards the end of the game, look absolutely amazing. The design of the dungeons is something that needs to be praised too, all of them are fun to explore and you’ll generally find some of the more impressive pieces of loot stashed away in the corners that you wouldn’t normally look.
In regards to the design of dungeons, there are a couple of them which look the same as one other, but it’s nowhere near as repetitive as the first Torchlight. You generally won’t see the same dungeon often enough for you to get bored of them; unless you keep going into the same dungeon over and over again, then it’s obviously going to be the same. The bottom line is that if you’re using the standard camera view while you spend time with Torchlight II it’s going to look great, if you zoom in though, you’ll start to notice the slight squareness of each of the models, it’s more of a design choice than a problem with the modelling of the characters, but it’s something that people should be aware of.
SOUND: You’ll be happy to know that all of the main story quests are fully voice acted. This is a really good thing, for obvious reasons, but also because some of the quests descriptions can be a little bit lengthy so it’s good to be able to sit back and just listen to the story unfold in front of you instead of having to read everything all the time. The side-quests won’t be voice-acted but these tend to be a little bit less in-depth than those main quests so you’ll never see reading them as a chore, just an addition to an already great story.
The soundtrack to the game serves its purpose, it’s not going to be as epic as in something like Diablo or any other game with massive production costs, but it helps the story along adequately and never lets the game feel empty in any way.
GAMEPLAY: As far as Action-RPG’s go, Torchlight II doesn’t break any new ground in terms if its gameplay, but that doesn’t really matter as the main aspect of the Action-RPG genre, the reason people keep coming back for more and more despite sinking hours into the titles, is present and correct. You’ll be collecting loot left, right and centre. So much that you’ll be unsure what you’re going to want to do with it all. One of the major downsides to some Action-RPG’s, especially when there’s so much loot to be collected, is what to do with it all. Do you selectively pick up loot, passing some by because it’s not useful or you’re not going to be able to sell it for a high enough price, or do you collect everything under the sun and hope that your bags are going to be able to contain everything? Thankfully Torchlight II allows you to be do the latter and collect ever single thing your heart desires because you’ve got a pet that can do all the hard work for you. All you need to do, once your bags are full, is load everything onto your pet and send it back to town to sell everything for you, then you’re free to collect even more items from the floor. Once you send your pet back to town, it won’t come back for a couple of minutes so you’re going to have to send it back tactically, or just wait around for it to come back. The last thing you want, if you’re deep in a dungeon, is to start a confrontation with a boss character while your pet is away in town.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Torchlight II, when you enter a new area, is to walk around the entire map, into each of the little nooks and crannies that are scattered throughout the map and see if there’s anything worth finding in there. A lot of the time there will be something, it could be a new side-quest, a couple of chests or, if you’re really lucky, it could be a boss character that needs taking down. These are a special treat because not only are they much more of a challenge than the rest of the enemies that you’ll come across, but they also drop an impressive amount of loot when they’re killed. Some of the loot they drop may even be some significant upgrades to your armour; something that every good player should always be on the lookout for.
Throughout your time with Torchlight II, you’ll spend a lot of time in the game’s menus, sending items you’ve picked up to your pet, comparing equipment to see if you’ve picked up anything on your travels that could be an upgrade to something that you’re currently wearing or just assigning skill points an upgrades. This can get a little bit old soemtimes, especially when all you really want to do is carry on with the dungeon you’re in and collect even more loot.
MULTIPLAYER: One aspect which was missing from the first Torchlight, and something that a lot of people mentioned that they wanted Runic Games to include this time around, is some form of multiplayer. Torchlight II has all types of multiplayer that you could want in an Action-RPG title. If you’ve got friends round and you’re all connected together in a LAN setup, then you can play in that way, however, most of us won’t be connected to our online friends via LAN so we can play together using the Online mode. In the Online mode you can either create a new game, or join one that’s already going on, and jump into the game and start collecting all the loot you want with a friend at your side. One important thing to note regarding the multiplayer mode is that each player will get their own loot, so players don’t have to leave loot lying on the ground for their friends to pick up. All the loot you can see is all yours to pick up, your friends will get their own loot to pick up.
People asked for Runic Games to add a multiplayer mode and they’ve delivered, who can ask for more than that?
LONGEVITY: With multiple character classes to choose from, as well as the fully implemented multiplayer mode, there’s no reason why you won’t be playing Torchlight II for the foreseeable future. The amount of loot that appears on the screen while playing is as addictive as in other Action-RPG’s, and the story should keep people playing for a good amount of time. Even if you don’t want to start the game again as soon as you’ve finished it, it’s certainly the type of game that people will want to come back to over and over again over time.
VERDICT: When all is said and done, Torchlight II is a wonderful game that everyone with a PC can own at a fraction of the cost of some of the more popular games. A lot of the problems from the first game, and even some of the major problems of the genre on the whole, have been modified and fixed by Runic Games’ entry into the genre and what we’re left with is a budget priced AAA experience that everyone should play right now.