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Torchlight 2
Torchlight 2

Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Runic Games Official Site: http://www.torchlight2game.c...
Publisher: Perfect World Entertain...
Release Date:
21st September 2011
Torchlight 2

Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Runic Games
Official Site: http://www.torchlight...
Publisher: Perfect World En...
Release Date:
21st September 2011
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Torchlight 2 Review
Review By @ 09:29am 20/09/12
Sometimes less is more. For this writer, Diablo III is such a bloated game that I never finished it, leaving my monk somewhere in the yellow-tinged sands of Act II. It got to the point where there was just no motivation to continue. The story was going nowhere, the environments became marathons of repetition and I simply had no interest in the hardcore end/grind game. If you loved it, good for you, but for many it lacked soul.

Torchlight II doesn’t exactly fill that vacuum, given as it is an obsequious homage to the very series we are talking about --from some of the original Blizzard North developers no less-- but do not mistake it for Diablo lite; it is much more than a cheap alternative. Some corners have been cut, such as the broad-strokes menu art, limited character designs and less micro attention to detail, but it still manages to punch out a full release feel. Torchlight II knows that it is a $20 game and so does away with the coquettish fluff of Diablo III. Rather than require hours of clicking to finally uncover that gleaming epic weapon, Torchlight II offers a fast-tracked feast of churning loot that comes thick and fast. It encourages you to utilize new weapons and ember augmentations as you receive them, as there will always be something new to swap in soon.

It takes a few hours to appreciate the different play approach when compared to Diablo. Whereas Blizzard’s behemoth would have you grind your mouse finger away in an attempt to gain enough loot and coin to finally upgrade or replace your gear back at the main hub, Torchlight II streamlines the experience, offering overpowered loot from each elite beast you conquer as well as a constant flow of coin. There is hardly any need to return to vendors, either, as it is possible to load your pet up with loot and send it off to town to sell it all. You can also give your pet a simple shopping list (potions, identify scrolls etc.) and get it to bring supplies back. Once ordered, your pet is usually only gone for a minute or two.

Your pet is much more than an extra bag slot. It packs a fighting punch and will often turn the tide of battle when things get out of hand. My bulldog, Gerald, is a stalwart companion, loyal, reliable and hardworking. With his AI set to “defensive”, he follows me around and attacks any and all who come within our radius. So far, Gerald has even learned some spells, as I am a more physically inclined engineer. His collar and tag slots also feature gleaming bling which give him extra protection and attack speed. I’ve got in my pack a few caught fish, pulled from the fishing spots scattered around the world. When fed to your pet, fish can turn them into other creatures, such as a spider or bear, for several minutes. They are a handy get-out-of-a-bind card to have for when you need a slightly more powerful sidekick. Yes, Gerald and I get along very well and I foresee our relationship approaching much more pleasant (and bloody) fields in the future.

Character classes are slightly different this time around and generally all classes can utilise most weapons, although some are slanted towards preferred combat approaches via their innate skill sets. Artificial barriers may prevent you from using certain gains, such as minimum stat requirements, but there’s nothing stopping you from dropping stat points in certain slots as you level up, carving your character as you see fit. The original classes from the first game exist as NPCs in the world and are not offered again. Instead, you have four new options that represent a pretty balanced set. The outlander brandishes rifle and pistol but prefers a throwing glaive and is attuned to speed, skill and long range accuracy. The embermage focuses on the arcane powers of ice, fire and electricity and is perfect for dealing with mobs from a distance. Berserkers are attached to totem beasts, which imbue them with animalistic rage, perfectly suited to hand and claw weapons. Lastly, the engineer is the melee/strength class, wielding massive two-handed wrenches, hammers and swords and summoning technological aides. Each class can easily be played solo, as the game starts off quite easy and slowly increases in difficulty. Each area and quest has a hovering level number to suggest where you should be at before taking things on.

Each time you level up, you are given stat and skill points to spend, making your character tougher and slowly unlocking the rather broad skill trees. My engineer is currently forging a path that makes use of a summonable bot that sends out a pulse of healing and mana energy every few seconds. A quick hit of the Tab key brings my other secondary skill to the fore (actioned by pressing right mouse button) and here I’ve invested quite a few points into a fire-based magic attack that can decimate crowds of enemies quite effectively. I’ve also dropped a few points into passive skills that increase my chances of critical effects. The three skill trees for the engineer broadly cover two-handed, shield and gadget, and it’s a case of deciding whether to spread your skills thinly or invest in a handful of them deeply. Do so and you unlock special tier rewards for some skills. The engineer’s healing bot, for example, gives out an 8% armour boost as a Tier II bonus and 16% to allies if invested up to Tier III. Flame Hammer, meanwhile, enjoys extra flaming splinters on top of its main attack as it moves up the tiers. Unlike Diablo III, you can’t completely respec your skills, although you can undo your last three skill spends for a fee.

The graphical approach is less detailed than its click-heavy brethren, yet the chunky cartoon aesthetic sits well with the fast action. Some spectacular spell effects are waiting to be discovered and in general Torchlight II does a fantastic job of giving you satisfying visual and aural feedback. It’s insanely fun to swing a hammer and have enemies explode into a shower of gibs and blood. The new day/night cycle also adds some variety to environments, providing a sense of extra menace as you adventure in the twilight. There are so many other little things that make you wonder how they can all be squeezed into such a low asking price (and relatively small download): the smooth ability to switch weapon sets, the long-term game of collecting and socketing ember specks, the charge bar along the bottom that fills up as you wade into mobs and which augments your active skills, and the rare weapon and armour sets that provide bonus attributes as you collect more pieces.

Torchlight II succeeds in being a truly viable alternative to Diablo III. The action is faster and thicker and rewards are set to a quickened treadmill pace, resulting in an experience that is immediately rewarding and increasingly addictive. Its seamless co-op (which includes player trading) openly gives Blizzard the middle finger as it allows players to decide whether to play a solo game offline or open it up for drop-ins. Torchlight II lacks deep character customisation, the dungeons are smaller than Diablo III and you feel very much on the action RPG fast track. However, this is evened out by a deep skill system, helpful pet AI, satisfying weapon and spell effects and the ever-present (and constantly rewarding) rain of loot. If you enjoy clicking the left button of your mouse thousands of times in order to get pretty rewards on the screen, this is a no brainer – order a 4-pack and demand that your friends put their lives on pause!
What we liked
  • Lots of little tweaks to the formula that all work
  • Deeply rewarding loot system
  • Satisfying weapon and spell effects and animations
  • Sensible options for co-op
  • Deep skill trees
What we didn't like
  • Limited character and pet customisation
  • It still feels like it is copying Diablo
  • You may have just recovered from RSI
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 10:52am 20/9/12
Posted 11:01am 20/9/12
you lost me at "coquettish"
Posted 11:46am 20/9/12
It still feels like it is copying Diablo

Feels like? I thought I was looking at Diablo 3 screenshots in the review for a moment there.
Posted 02:59pm 20/9/12
To be fair, Torchlight did that art style first.
Posted 04:27pm 20/9/12
So f*****g keen on this, but I have the feeling Borderlands 2 will keep me away from it for a few weeks :(
Posted 04:46pm 20/9/12
Looking forward to hitting this up tomorrow night. Diablo 3 was a fail for me. This looks spot on.
Posted 04:56pm 20/9/12
This and Borderlands 2 will keep me busy this summer. Hurry up and end uni!
Reverend Evil
Posted 07:55am 21/9/12
Woot. It's unlocked now.
Posted 08:47am 21/9/12
Unlocked it this morning before work. Then I had to go to work :(
Posted 11:52am 21/9/12
Jay Wilson should be taking notes. F*****g amateur!
Posted 04:12pm 10/10/12
I haven't put a lot of time into this. I found myself at a point at lvl 23 in act 2 I think with my only quest to do in a lvl 29+ area. Like there wasn't enough quests or something? Just me? Will play more this weekend.
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