Fans of old-school-style role playing games for the PC have gotten some pretty filling treats so far in 2012. Action RPG lovers, for example, got some love from the folks at Blizzard earlier this year with the release of dungeon crawler Diablo 3. ArenaNet then further upped the ante by serving up its well polished MMORPG Guild Wars 2. Now Runic Games is sweetening the pot further with the followup to its own popular dungeon crawler, Torchlight 2.
For the uninitiated, the original Torchlight is an action RPG that had a certain Diablo quality to it — no surprise given that its creators actually worked on the latter game. Despite being a solid effort, however, the first Torchlight also was a largely lonely affair due to the fact that it was a single-player game. With the arrival of Torchlight 2, however, players who seek the comfort of companionship no longer need to be solitary beings. Unlike its predecessor, Torchlight 2 offers online multiplayer (Hooray for friendship — as well as the ability to coexist with random online strangers!). So was the inclusion worth it? Well, let’s take a closer look, shall we?
For starters, Torchlight 2 is quite the looker. Compared to Diablo 3 the game uses a brighter overall palette combined with a look that inches closer to being a bit more cartoonish — particularly when it comes to the look of its characters. In fact, the game’s opening movie echos shades of shows like Samurai Jack, for example. Speaking of the opening movie, the game starts out by showing a battle against Torchlight 2’s new antagonist, the Alchemist. That would be the same Alchemist from the first game, who was one of the original heroes. After going through the opening, you can then pick one of four classes to play as: Engineer, Berserker, Embermage and Outlander, which can be further refined via their individual skill trees. You can build your engineer for example as an offensive hammer user or a damage-soaking tank. The Embermage, on the other hand, can specialize in fire, lightning, ice or a mixture of all three. Meanwhile, the Outlander can be built as poison-dealing gunner or a summoner. The variety with builds is certainly one of the strong points of the game. Torchlight 2 also gives you more control with stat allotment. The downside is that you can only respec the last three points you spent, making your choices — including bad ones — more permanent than Diablo III (you can fully respec with a potion but that also labels you as a “cheater” to the online community via a symbol next to your name).
Folks who love loot will be happy to know that there is no shortage of virtual goodies in this game. Torchlight 2 also offers offline play, so you don’t have to always be connected online like the more closed Diablo III. In fact, the developers for the game take pride in its openness, meaning you can expect some cool mods from the community as the game continues to mature. The campaign itself is on the short side, though, new game options as well as extra difficulties give it lots of replay factor as you further fine tune your build and hunt down more glorious loot. Add the fact that the game is only $20 and Torchlight 2 is well worth the price of admission.
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