Two Worlds II sequel beats original

In this video game image released by SouthPeak,

In this video game image released by SouthPeak, A young swordsman fights reanimated skeletons in "Two Worlds II." (Credit: AP Photo/)

Despite our reservations - mainly caused by awful memories of the original Two Worlds, from 2007 - we sought the sequel out. And we're hooked.

Polish studio Reality Pump has learned a few lessons since its initial fiasco. Combat is crisper, the threads of the story are easier to follow and the massive game world is more fun to explore. (If you're the kind of reader who pored over the maps in "The Lord of the Rings," you'll love this.) Graphical glitches pop up occasionally, and while human characters are as ugly as sin, Two Worlds II does present convincing monsters and some genuinely beautiful landscapes.

The primary story line is nothing special. An evil wizard has conquered the land of Antaloor; your mission is to overthrow him and, in the process, release your sister from his control. Exploring dungeons, fighting monsters, discovering increasingly powerful weapons and magic: If you've ever beaten a role-playing game, you know the drill.

Less predictable are the dozens of optional missions you'll discover around Antaloor. Some, like a mystery surrounding an elusive criminal mastermind, are serious. Some, like an investigation into reports of man-eating umbrellas, are goofy. One minute, you're battling giant scorpions, the next you're mixing horse laxative.


RATING M for Mature

PLOT Overthrow a bad wizard

DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $60

BOTTOM LINE A diamond in the rough

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