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May 5th, 2012, 17:59
Finished the game.
Played on hard, voodoo path, found all artifacts, took me 42 hours.

A fun game overall and certainly still a Piranha Bytes experience, though not without shortcomings.

Iīd say the strongest points of the game are world building, atmosphere (lively world, day/night changes), no level scaling, economy (both in terms of experience points and money) and, consequently, exploration.
The piratey setting turned out to be a fresh change over the rather nondescript setting of its predecessor.

Among the weakest stuff Iīd count inclusion of QTEs, dungeon aspect and combat against monsters.

All the other stuff like character development, itemization, writing, combat against humanoids, voice acting, UI and quest design would be in the average to good range.

Donīt feel like writing point by point impressions, though Iīd like to compare the game to previous PB titles in some aspects.

I would say that one improvement over pretty much all previous PB games is the progression in balance between major gameplay elements - the ratio between combat, exploration and questing remains quite in the same ballpark throughout the whole game. Some areas are more quest-heavy, some more combat-heavy, but thereīs no sense of one element taking over during the last 1/4 of the game.
The reason for this is that due to the quest structure and area division the whole game is basically a huge "middle".
However, this does have one downside - due to effectively absent endgame, the finale feels abrupt and non-eventy.

The other clear improvement over other titles would be inclusion of dialogue skills - though they donīt affect quests dramatically, itīs nice to have dialogue options tied to character development.

Compared to its direct predecessor, the game comes with more chracterful setting, tolerable woman models and mostly better voice acting (for many people VA is likely the best in a PB game, but personally I have a soft spot for VA in the first two Gothics).

So much for clear improvements.

Now for some perhaps controversial stuff.
While I consider world design and exploration to be the gameīs biggest strengths, I would say that compared to previous PB titles these mostly took a hit in one or more ways.

First, the world design. Besides the straight disappointing Caldera, the settlements are nice and feel lived in, but a bit too cramped/small, and the wilderness feels "real" and hand crafted, but I think the game underutilizes z-axis and is relatively lacking in variety, which results in a somewhat sparse amount of memorable, distinct places.
Some areas feel rather "corridor-y".

Second, the act of exploring. PB has been stripping down means of exploring since Gothic 3 and Risen 2 is their most stripped down iteration to date.
G1 and G2 had swimming, diving and climbing, G3 removed climbing and diving, Risen fortunately added climbing back with levitation on top of it, but removed swimming, Risen 2 removed levitation, assigned climbing to few clearly defined spots and on top of that gimped jumping - the result is traversing the environments feels very one dimensional.
No doubt, some of these limitations are mirrored in world design.

On a more positive note, the division into more areas maintains a sense of novelty, treasure huntery is fun and developers made sure that exploring places off the beaten path wonīt go unrewarded.

All in all, exploring the Risen 2īs world is certainly fun and retains most of the signature PB craftmanship, but as a whole the exploration is probably weakest of all PB games. That itīs still strong compared to most of the other RPG-y titles on the market is a testament to how good for exploration PB games are.


At last, three disappointments.

First would be combat. After Risen, I think itīs a clean cut downgrade.
Shit, Iīm late for the meeting! Sorry, the below probably wonīt be very concise .
Melee against single humanoid opponents is fun once one gains few abilities and understands how to use them, thereīs good variety of weaponry, dirty tricks and voodoo are thematically fitting.
However, ranged combat is too straightforward, voodoo lacks in variety, dirty tricks arenīt useful against monsters and melee abilities are useless against monsters, besides kick and powerful swing.
To me, clearly the biggest issue is the lack of dodge, which really hurts combat against non humanoids and those constitute majority of opponents.
Companions shift balance significantly and are available for most of the time, firearms and a bit of running around can solve everything (even on voodoo path), once developed voodoo abilities turn into "I win" buttons, but are fairly dull to use…
Overall, the quality of combat felt quite similar to that of Gothic 3īs and thatīs not really a good thing. They shouldīve taken Risen as a basis and build upon that.

The second disappointment would be dungeon crawling aspect.
I thought they were on a good way in Risen, just made it too repetitive, but instead on improving upon it, Risen 2 cut puzzle elements and dungeon exploration almost entirely. Boo!!

Third, QTEs. They suck, period.

Oh, and DLCs. What a shame.

Iīve forgotten some other stuff, no doubt, but I have to go .

Overall I consider Risen 2 to be a good, at times very good, game, but itīs no Gothic: NotR.
Last edited by DeepO; May 6th, 2012 at 16:51.
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