- Well, not so much as an expose as some brief doodlings from someone who doesn't particularly play the genre, perhaps, but I wanted to pick up on a particularly interesting entry in the recent NPD game charts for August in North America - specifically, Xbox 360 RPG Two Worlds, published by Southpeak, making it all the way to #13 in the all-formats countdown.

To say Two Worlds, which is a first-person/third-person title developed by Polish studio Reality Pump, is a surprise on the charts would be an understatement - with a minor publisher and relatively little overt buzz from at least my point of view, I'm not sure anyone would have guessed it'd show up in the Top 20.

But here's a great hint as to why, from the first line of the gameplay description on Wikipedia: "Two Worlds is a three-dimensional role-playing game which has often been compared to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion." And indeed, if you Google for 'Oblivion' and 'Two Worlds', you'll see a whole heap of previews, articles, and opinions comparing the two games. It appears that Oblivion has created a whole mess of latent demand for firstish-person, open-world RPGs that even the game's expansion packs couldn't satisfy - hence fans latching onto Two Worlds.

Indeed, here in the CMP Game Group, our sales admin Gregg Silberman mentioned to me that he pre-ordered the Collector's Edition of Two Worlds (again, remind you of anything?), before cancelling when he heard that the gameplay was a tad more hack and slash than Oblivion. And indeed, critics aren't spectacularly happy with Two Worlds on the Xbox 360, with an average of 52% on Metacritic.

But that doesn't necessarily matter if there are semi-insatiable Oblivion fans out there, quite happy to start long threads comparing their favorite Bethesda-authored game series to Two Worlds. Difficult to say the exact sales for Two Worlds as a result, but it's certainly broken 100,000 on Xbox 360 by now in the States (probably edging 150,000?), and it's already topped the charts in Germany, where the PC version is also well-received.

Mind you, one of the oddest things about the surprise U.S. success of the game is that I suspect Oblivion wasn't necessarily the primary influencer in the game's development - the open-ended Gothic series seems to be one of the most influential European PC RPG series in recent years, and other people have picked up on the Gothic 3 comparison. On that front, imagine how well Gothic 3 might have done in the U.S. if they'd sorted out an Xbox 360 version?

Sounds like Gothic 4 might be coming to the Xbox 360, depending on your definition of 'current-gen' - but maybe the Oblivion geeks will have had their fill of debatably buggy Continental European open-world games by then, hm. However, Two Worlds is slightly poisoning the drinking water for everyone right now, one fears. And not saying Gothic is the premiere open-world daddy here - that title itself might well have been influenced by Daggerfall and heck, you get the general idea.

[Incidentally, I was going to go check out sales numbers on VGChartz.com, but then discovered it's the first site I've ever seen to be tagged as having malware by Google - awesome! I went and checked anyhow, and they're estimating 256,606 sales in North America so far - which I think is a bit high, but gives you the general idea.]