by Trip SkyWay
You wait ages for a decent loot based kill-em-up and then two come along at once. Isn't it always the way? Of course Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2 are very different beasts, it's just something of a shame that two of the very best games of the year have released so close together.
Torchlight 2 takes place a couple of years after Torchlight has ended, unfortunately during this time the playable alchemist from the first game has gone a bit tonto. He's managed to get infected by the amber blight and thus decided that all the world needs blowing up. Or something. To be honest the plot doesn't really matter a jot, although it is markedly better than the original 'hunt the baddie down in the caves' one, it also has some excellently animated cut scenes provided by Klei Entertainment of Shank and Shadow of the Ninja fame.
The story takes you far and wide this time around, with large overworld areas connecting up the dungeons, massive structures and bandit hideouts, all of the aforementioned are also randomly generated, so no matter how much you play the game it always feels fresh. The art style is gorgeous too, taking a more cartoony approach than with the arch rival Diablo 3, but it seems to fit better with Torchlight 2's faster pace.
Also making a welcome return to Torchlight 2 is your pet, you can still pick your breed be it anything from a ferret to a bull dog, but this faithful friend isn't just for company. You can trick it out with spells for healing and attacking, even going so far as to attach trinkets to its collar, augmenting armour or elemental damage, but this isn't the best thing about your pet, oh no. You can also send it to town to trade all those items that would otherwise be cluttering up your inventory, you can also write the little darling a handy shopping list, so that when he returns it will be with healing potions and Identify scrolls. It may seem a small addition, but it's a good one.
So yes, now it's time to address the elephant in the room, just how does this compare to Diablo 3? Well for a start it works offline with no lag for a single player game, it's not as 'streamlined' as Diablo 3 is, you still get to level an array of stats at each level up and build your skill tree according to your style of play, no full resets to be had here, though you can reclaim the last three points spent if you feel you've made a mistake. Co-op is handled well, with the only hoop you have to jump through being the set up of a Runic account, even if you are playing on steam. There is also no sign of a real money auction house here, so no unbalancing of the game to make an extra few quid. And speaking of quids, Torchlight 2 costs 15 English pounds to Diablo 3's 40. Plus, for those moaning that Diablo 3 had lost all the magic of 1 & 2, guess where a lot of the guys that made those games headed? Yep, that's right, straight to Runic.
Torchlight 2 is everything the Torchlight fan could have hoped for, everything has been polished and improved to the Nth degree, and now it has some wonderful 6 player co-op, and playing that on the harder settings is insanely fun. Be happy loot fans, at last there is one excellent Diablo game out this year. It's called Torchlight 2.