Torchlight II – PC
Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Runic Games
Release Date: September 20, 2012
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed by Malefico
Torchlight II, sequel to Runic Games’ Torchlight, was released slightly over a year ago. The game has generally enjoyed very favorable reviews, including a Metacritic score of 88 out of 100. It has sold over two million copies at this time. Some of the new features include four entirely new player classes, and cooperative online play, a feature noticeably lacking in Torchlight.
Character generation is easy and straightforward. Players can choose one of four different classes. These characters types are also different from those in the original Torchlight. Each class of character has three skill trees that can be used to customize the character’s abilities to the player’s liking.
Berserker- Your basic melee maniac, the berserker can also call on the magic of various beasts, creating special attacks that generate even more damage. Skill trees: Hunter- various special attacks and Life Stealing, Tundra- Frost attacks and ice damage bonuses, and Shadow- Slows and blinding abilities, plus Frenzy increase.
Embermage- These mystic masters of magic employ the power of the elements to devastate foes. Skill trees: Inferno- Flame elemental damage special attacks, Frost- Ice attacks, and Storm- Electrical attacks.
Engineer- These combatants excel with melee or ranged weapons and make good tanks. They can deploy bots in combat to assist them. Skill trees: Blitz- Various melee special attacks and bonuses plus two-handed weapon specialization, Construction- Ranged special attacks and a number of specialized bot summoning spells, and Aegis- Defensive powers and shield bonuses.
Outlander- Adept in both ranged weapons and magic, these fighters can also summon minions from the netherworld to wreak havoc on enemies. Skill trees: Warfare- Various ranged attacks, crowd control and survivability skills plus ranged weapon specialization, Lore- DOT and special ranged attacks, slows and holds plus Dodge bonuses, and Sigil- Various debuffs and summoning powers.
During combat, special attacks and abilities cost Mana and generate Charge. Out of combat, characters lose Charge over time. In addition to the abilities listed above, all the classes have some way to either increase the amount of Charge generated, slow its dissipation, or improve/lengthen the special effect that occurs when the Charge bar is filled.
After character generation, the player chooses a pet and can customize/name their companion. The following pets comprise the list of those available to players. Badger, bulldog, cat, chakawary (imagine a little beastie with the body of a raptor (dinosaur) and the head of a raptor (bird of prey), ferret, hawk, owl, panda, panther, papillon (it’s a small breed of lapdog) and wolf.
Once in the game, you recieve your first quest- to fight your way through the starting map and make it to a nearby town, the Estherian Enclave. Like many RPG’s Torchlight II uses bright yellow exclamation points to denote available quests, dim exclamation points to show quests that will become available, dim question marks to show quest turn-in spots, and bright green question marks to signify quests that are finished and can be turned in for rewards.
Character control is accomplished by pointing your mouse to a spot on the screen and clicking, enemies can be attacked in the same way. To activate a special attack, you right-click the mouse while pointing at an enemy or object. Since this is an action RPG, the enemies attack often and in droves. If you enjoy battling hordes of classic fantasy monsters, Torchlight II will keep you entertained for hours. Although the game is inexpensive compared to the Diablo series from Blizzard, you can’t tell by just looking at it. Characters, mobs, and environments are all well-rendered and detailed. Animations are smooth, fluid and varied and the game maintains playable frame rates even on very low-end hardware with lots of models on the screen at once.
One of the best elements (for me) in this type of game is the availability of special items. Magic weapons and armor abound in this game and follow the classic, color-coded pattern as follows: Common = white, Uncommon = green, Rare = blue, Very Rare (Set Items) = Purple, and Unique (Epic) = gold. Just like Torchlight, you will also find various gems that can be placed in items with open sockets, conferring damage (weapons) or defense (armor)bonuses. However, unlike the original, gems cannot be combined to create more powerful jewels, but they seem to drop more frequently in this game, and more powerful gems drop earlier in the game so you will still be able to power up your gear. Just like Torchlight, you will be able to interact with vendors that can destroy either an item or the gems inside it, enabling you to transfer powerful gems or replace a weak gem in a potent item.
The Bottom Line
Basically, there’s nothing that Torchlight II doesn’t do well. As mentioned before, all the environments and animations are first-rate. When wandering around on any given map, there are interesting and challenging side quests, plenty of bad guys to battle, lots of mini-bosses, puzzles to solve, secret areas and levels, and of course more powerful adversaries and bosses in the dark places below ground. Regarding level design, the dungeons and caverns are very well-done, giving a real feeling of depth and size. Portions of lower levels are visible as you cross bridges or walkways, and switches and levers open up new vistas for you to explore. Because each map and dungeon is randomly generated before the player enters a new zone, there is some load time. However, it’s nice to play a game knowing that although the quests will be familiar, they will never be in exactly the same place twice. The replay value is well worth the brief (30 seconsds or less) delay before the new area is revealed. And there’s always a chance you will get to see a brand-new side quest or area, or face a whole new combat situation due to the terrain. Underground, chests and even entire areas may be trapped, or you could run into a Mimic, relatively hardy monsters that look just like chests until you approach and they reveal big jaws full of teeth.
Another great aspect of this game is the GUTS editor. Players can download this suite of tools to create their own levels or campaigns, design special items and even create entirely new character classes. This mod machine was released in April of this year and quickly resulted in tons of extra content created by talented, passionate players all over the world. It’s just this kind of enthusiasm that increases a game’s longevity and playability and serves to showcase the talents of regular folks all over who just love video games.
Torchlight II is a polished, well-designed game that was clearly developed by a team that cared about improving on a winning formula, and removing all the specific criticisms that were leveled at the original. Having tried the co-op action, I can say that server lag was not an issue for me. Apparently, this is not always true with Diablo III as evinced by numerous forum complaints and Youtube vids posted by frustrated players. One of the biggest complaints about Torchlight was its lack of co-op play. Having addressed this issue in Torchlight II, Runic may well have created the closest thing we have to a perfect action RPG. The only slight issue I have with this game is that I wish Runic had made it less cartoon-like, a little more dark and grim like Diablo. But this is personal opinion and does nothing to detract from this action RPG gem. If you like rampaging through forbidding catacombs populated by scores of murderous fiends, and finding mighty magical artifacts while bolstering your own impressive powers, give Torchlight II a try.
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