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RPGWatch Forums » Games » Risen 3 » Risen 2 » Risen 2 impressions thread

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May 26th, 2012, 17:48
My impressions of the game so far:

Frankly I'm struggling to like this game and given I've enjoyed Gothic 2, 3 and Risen 1, it's just a real pity.

Risen 2 may be a dip or it may be an indication that this form of openworld game needs to evolve in order to survive.
I'm torn between thinking that is the case or just feeling that basic design aspects of the game are killing it for me.
But if Risen 2 bombs, will it spell the end of Piranha Bytes?


Anyway, I'am about 15 hours in, but I think I have a fair idea as to why it's rubbing me the wrong way.

The first thing is, I don't care about the characters and I don't share my main character's motivation.
One of the strengths of the Gothic series was that it often wasn't just a story about the hero, it was also about his relationships to his longtime friends.
This was often the lead-in to the game world. Although your character was a mercenary, he had an engaging and human past.
Think of Gothic 3. The main character starts out with his friends asking him what he was going to do.
He doesn't know, but he'll think of something and walking out the gate of the village, the player is presented with an open plain and an open character. Things could go any number of ways.

I didn't feel that way with Risen 2. For a start, the hero's motivation is much more narrowly defined and not necessarily empathetic to the player.
However that might not have mattered if the need for the player to follow the mission was reinforced more often.
A range of burning hills representing unseen destruction and talk of titans will not provide motivation over the long run.
In Gothic 2 the orcs were a clear and consistent challenge. Not only would they attack on sight, but they were a clear indication of a world out of balance that the player could put right.
In Gothic 3 by visiting towns under Orc control, the player was again constantly reminded of the challenge the orcs presented, both long-term and immediate.

There's very little of that so far in Risen2. I may be tasked with finding mythical weapons for a larger purpose, but my main on-the-ground motivation seems to be the slaughter of hundreds of animals for glory. And fetch quests.
And it wasn't far before I was wondering why am I slaughtering all these animals? Why?
Often times it's just because they're in my way and that's not really enough reason.

Any why do I have to slaughter that monkey who's minding his own business? Why?

In fact, I'm getting sick of the attitude of RPG's have to the natural world.
The attitude Risen2 seems to want to inculcate is something akin to poachers when they skin yet another endangered animal and leave its carcass rotting.
In two Worlds 2 for example (an execrable game), I was encouraged to kill rhinos for their skin and horns!
I know people will say, 'it's just a game' but it just seems such a limited and archaic vision.
There's got to be a better way - essentially, I'm sick of slaughtering animals to level up and it seems to me another instance where the traditional open-world formula needs to evolve.
(Perhaps it's as simple as differentiating between natural animals and monsters and handling rewards based on the difference)


But the combat sucks. One of the aspects I enjoyed in previous games, was the ability to hit with a bow and switch to sword as the enemy closed - or just the ability to outrun and
ping away at enemies as they pursued. Guns are fun, but why can't I quick key switch to sword when the animal closes? Why?

As I favour guns, the combat is so clumsy. The target inevitably rushes me and then I'm trying to awkwardly aim at the ground as it circles or repeatedly bites me (I'm aware I can bat at it but still…)
This was horrendous with the default mouse settings. Not having a separate vertical sensitivity was a blunder such that I had to edit the ini file to get what should have been a default setting.

And how many times have I fired my pistol only to see my hero turn around and f*cking fire into the undergrowth even as the obvious target is closing fast on his ass?
And then he gets bit from behind. Idiot.

However for me I would have been more forgiving if the world had been more openworld. I detest the trend towards 'open corridor', where the player gets to choose which corridor they go down.
That's not openworld. As such Risen2's islands are essentially giant rat mazes. Often this means seeing an interesting feature in the distance becomes a frustrating process of trying to find the right corridor amongst the heavy foiliage.
Openworld is fun because it encourages exploration. If the player can see something in the distance, then they can wander get there without too much trouble. Not so easy in Risen 2 and the lesson is corridors are just not fun.


And why can't I camp? It gets dark at night and given the predilection for animals to attack, why can't I camp? There are campfires and I can cook meat, so why can't I hunker down and rest till morning?
It's such a basic thing. But PB seem to have gone backwards in terms of giving your character basic human attributes such as being seen to eat and lie down at night anywhere other than the rare unoccupied bed.

Quicktime events. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? No visible sign, if your finger isn't already on the spacebar, you're f*cked. Game over screen.
Who thought that was a good game design decision? Unbelieveable. It's unbelieveable that Pirahna Bytes have had all this experience in building open world games, yet they seem to be regressing.

On a different vein, I found a native girl called Lin who seemed to be panning for gold in the river.
Seriously, it was actually kind of offensive - certainly embarassing. Big tits, loincloth, skulls on her arms, hands on her hips, saucy pose.
And I thought to myself, this is why games are not thought of very highly.
It's embarassing. I mean did the person who created this ever just sit back and have a moment where he or she looked at what they've created from an intelligent artistic viewpoint?
Probably not.


I should also complain here about the voice acting for the main character.
At least the Nameless Hero had a certain snarkie charm to his voice. you could believe he was a mercenary.
The main character in Risen 2 sounds underwhelmed by everything and if he doesn't care, why should I?


But above all this is the flat delivery of the story. This is pirates, it should be bold!
Love them or hate them, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have more liveliness and piratey flavour than Risen 2.
Frankly The Secret of Monkey Island from 1990 has more zing and piratey flavour than Risen 2.
Hardcore swearing does not consitute local colour or character.
Pirates should be fighting in the pub, singing sea shanties, engaging in epic sea battles or epic-comic adventures.
But unfortunately Risen2 has all the flair of an autobahn.

I'm really sorry to say the above, but Risen 2 is just not doing it for me…
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May 30th, 2012, 19:13
Originally Posted by Madjack View Post
In fact, I'm getting sick of the attitude of RPG's have to the natural world.
(…)
I know people will say, 'it's just a game' but it just seems such a limited and archaic vision.
There's got to be a better way - essentially, I'm sick of slaughtering animals to level up and it seems to me another instance where the traditional open-world formula needs to evolve.
(Perhaps it's as simple as differentiating between natural animals and monsters and handling rewards based on the difference)
I second that, wholeheartedly!
I remember playing my first RPG, Gothic 2, and I had to kill a wolf - o horror! Wolves are rare in my country, extinct. My stomach ached, it took ten more dead wolves before I had convinced myself it was all a game and the ache disappeared.
(Scavengers and orcs were easy, much more fun for they're not real.)

Thanks for your interesting review. I'm a PB fan but did not have any time to play Risen 2. In fact I have been so busy that the news that it could be played, that it could be bought, only reached me today .

While reading this thread the idea came to me of buying Risen 2 and playing it this very evening. But after having read your post, Madjack, I think I'll pass for now and wait until prices drop. I shall buy and I shall play, definitely, for it's still a PB game and I am curious, but I am not eager anymore. I'll probably wait till fall, after the console version is presented - then Risen 2 PC version might be a bargain, and considering a lower price, more worthwhile.

Thanks all, I enjoyed reading your remarks and reviews.

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but saying that he is wiser today than he was yesterday - Alexander Pope
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June 1st, 2012, 11:29
Omega

I'm in two minds about your decision to put off purchasing R2. On the one hand I want PB to continue as they have provided me with some of my most memorable open-world gaming moments. On the other hand Risen2 is just so dumb in its approach that PB really do need to go back to the drawing board. But then maybe past PB fans are no longer the target market?

Take open-world? Open-world is popular. But how can we undercut that? Of course! We'll split our world into smaller chunks unconnected except for some cut scenes and then we'll set these chunks up as corridor mazes complete with heavily obscuring foiliage! That should do it. Frankly I wonder if the tech limitations of consoles and the drubbing they took over the console version of R1 had a leading impact here. By cutting up the world into smaller 'zones', they can push more polygons onscreen, particularly on consoles.

(As an aside; how many times have I veered off the path thinking there might be something hidden only to find myself facing an impassable rockface again? I don't remember this happening so often in R1 but it seems to be happening all the time in R2. And part of the joy of PB's previous games was finding seemingly illegal ways up rockfaces to inaccessible spots that sometimes the authors recognised as being a bit dodgy? Sometimes the player could even escape the gameworld but it was all part of the fun! No such flexibility in R2 - another example where they've removed gameplay that was fun.)

But even so, I would've turned a blind eye if I was playing a character who had half the character of Threepwood or met characters who were in anyway memorable. I could even forgive the awful combat (and have in previous PB games). I can remember all sorts of characters from previous PB games. R2's characters are all blending into a sort of mundane 'piratey' sameness. The writing is not-bad in terms of how it flows, but it often lacks any real personality or hook, occasionally descending into laughable atrociousness (check out the shaga-whatever village for the worst example of 'white man trying to imagine native speak!')
For example, conversations often tend towards;
'So you like your job?'
'Yes, I like standing here'
'Well, please tell me about your job in detail!'
I know this was often the method in past PB games but it just seems so much more tedious in R2 and I'm not quite sure why.

I think part of the problem is that the continual requests for help don't really mesh with your character's motivations. Indeed they often seem like irksome detours. In other PB games the player was basically a young man with an open plan trying to get ahead and so taking on all these different fetch quests made sense. Sure, he had to save the world, but the way was only gradually revealed and so his path felt much more open. In R2, the player is much more specifically tasked from the get-go and so the sidequests often seem at odds with your piratical intentions. It's a tension that doesn't really work well.

Speaking of fetch quests. The worst was when I'd stolen a ship (which oddly sailed away quietly without any protest from those left on shore) and on arriving at a new port, was given a shopping list to complete. A shopping list. And that's emblematic of this game's lack of vision when it comes to fun. I'm a f*cking pirate, I've just been made pirate captain, which should have been massive! And yet the first thing I'm told is to go shopping.

But perhaps R2's problem is that it just isn't wicked enough. There's not enough black humour. That would have saved it. A pinch more wickedness. A little more slyly intelligent innuendo to liven up the long stretches of dull conversation. Instead it's dumb all the way.
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June 1st, 2012, 14:49
Originally Posted by Madjack View Post
A shopping list. (…) I'm a f*cking pirate, I've just been made pirate captain, which should have been massive! And yet the first thing I'm told is to go shopping.
Hahaha. You're sure you are a male captain and not a female in disguise?

Originally Posted by Madjack View Post
But perhaps R2's problem is that it just isn't wicked enough. There's not enough black humour. That would have saved it. A pinch more wickedness. A little more slyly intelligent innuendo to liven up the long stretches of dull conversation. Instead it's dumb all the way.
It sounds as if it's lacking possibilities to influence (the outcome of) the game. It sounds as if it's an adventure game.

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June 1st, 2012, 17:07
I wouldn't put off playing Risen 2 because of one negative opinion. While it's certainly not as good as Gothic 1 or 2 imo, it was still very enjoyable. It's a lot better than Gothic 3 was at release (I know that isn't saying much), and I'd say it's on par with Risen 1, or maybe better depending on how much you like the pirate theme.

I finished it prior to the patch, and it's a better game now with the addition of dodging and the ability to block monster attacks.
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June 1st, 2012, 20:48
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I wouldn't put off playing Risen 2 because of one negative opinion. While it's certainly not as good as Gothic 1 or 2 imo, it was still very enjoyable
Thanks for yor reaction, JDR13 for I appreciate and respect your opinion. I do not read all the things you write on this forum, but the things I do read always make sense to me.
And yes, you're right of course, one never should act because of one negative opinion.
But
I'm simply not as eager as before… The things Madjack wrote, he seems to have hit the nail right on the head as far as I'm concerned, I mean the things he mentioned are things I care about. Apart from that, he was very descriptive, it's easy to picture the damper, the frustration he has encountered.

Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
It's a lot better than Gothic 3 was at release (I know that isn't saying much), and I'd say it's on par with Risen 1, or maybe better depending on how much you like the pirate theme.

I finished it prior to the patch, and it's a better game now with the addition of dodging and the ability to block monster attacks.
After Gothic 2 I found Gothic 3 a big disappointment - with or without bugs. So yes, I agree, being better than Gothic 3 doesn't say much. Risen 1 was allright, the first half even good, but the part in the dungeon I thought quite boring, I prefer the world to be more open. So it's on par with Risen 1, you say, JDR13? Which part of Risen 1 might that be, dear sir?

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June 2nd, 2012, 00:14
Originally Posted by Omega View Post
Risen 1 was allright, the first half even good, but the part in the dungeon I thought quite boring, I prefer the world to be more open. So it's on par with Risen 1, you say, JDR13? Which part of Risen 1 might that be, dear sir?
There's very little dungeon delving in Risen 2. Almost the entire game takes place in open air… I'd say less than 10% is spent in any kind of dungeon environment. So yeah, it's more comparable to the first half of Risen in that aspect.

In fact, there really are no "dungeons" in Risen 2. There are temples and cave systems, but they're all quite small, and the time spent inside them is brief.
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June 2nd, 2012, 09:34
May well be one can hardly call it a kind of dungeon environment, may well be it is a maze where the walls consist of foliage and rocks: I'll discover it sooner or later. At this moment however I'm being drawn to a book I started to read on Thursday evening (yeah, it was that or R2). But I'll see, I'll see how much curiosity and eagerness there's left for Risen 2 after I've read the last page of my book.

Anyway, thanks, I appreciate what you were trying to do.

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June 11th, 2012, 10:49
Originally Posted by Madjack View Post
Omega
(As an aside; how many times have I veered off the path thinking there might be something hidden only to find myself facing an impassable rockface again? I don't remember this happening so often in R1 but it seems to be happening all the time in R2. And part of the joy of PB's previous games was finding seemingly illegal ways up rockfaces to inaccessible spots that sometimes the authors recognised as being a bit dodgy? Sometimes the player could even escape the gameworld but it was all part of the fun! No such flexibility in R2 - another example where they've removed gameplay that was fun.)
IMO this is a little bit unfair. As I see it, there are TONS of completely optional locations on the islands of R2 - way more than I remember from R1 actually. Caves with a couple of beasts, a chest or a skeleton plus some loot… as PB usually does this kind of thing.

In short, I'm loving the game so far (15 hours in, did a good chunk of the Sword Coast). It has the typical PB magic and rewards (requires?) a thorough exploration and careful planning of how to build up our character.

I can see your points on the story pacing… I guess it's a matter of taste whether or not it's important for your enjoyment of the game.

cheers!
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August 24th, 2012, 04:42
Hello, folks! Some of you might remember me from way back in the original Gothic game, when rpgwatch.com used to be rpgdot.com. Ahh, how time flies! At any rate, as you've probably guessed, I've played every Gothic game and both Risen games. I actually just finished Risen 2 about 10 minutes ago.

In my humble opinion, nothing compares to the passion and awe I felt for the original Gothic game. Gothic 2 was a close second. Gothic 3 seemed to lose some of its charm in its unwarranted attempt to compete with Oblivion, but was still a great game. Gothic 4… well, let's just call it decent and leave it at that…

Now, Risen! What a game! Piranha bytes seemed to have found the spark which made Gothic 1 and 2 so fantastic! Another great game!

Finally, Risen 2…. my first impression was one of complete and utter disappointment. Yes, it sounds harsh, but given my high expectations (which were well deserved given Piranha Byte's earlier triumphs), it was inevitable. The graphics, voice acting, and general scripting seemed worse than any previous Piranha Bytes game with respect to the technology available at the time of release. I played it for a couple of hours and then lost interest completely.

Eventually, however, I decided to return and give it another try. So about 3 hours later, the charms began to reveal themselves. It is ironic, Risen 2 is a sort of buried treasure in retrospect. For each of its obvious shortcomings, I discovered several not so obvious strengths. With a lot of polish and improved graphics (especially NPC models), this game could have easily earned much more renown.

So in a nutshell, Risen 2 was not the best Piranha Bytes experience. On many levels it was inferior to Risen 1, and to its closest competition, Skyrim. However, as the game progressed the fun factor increased almost exponentially. The ship, crew, islands, and treasures made this game a worthy investment, despite its other shortcomings! And let's not forget what was arguably the best part of the game, the gnomes! Clever, brilliant, and funny, "fuck yes!" On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd have to give Risen 2 a solid 7.

If only Piranha Bytes would dig deep and return to its roots in terms of thoughtful, witty, and polished immersion, Risen 3 would likely be a game to redeem the Piranha Bytes name.

Add me to your friends list on Steam! My name there is: [GoE]SirDeity
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August 24th, 2012, 09:17
Yes, it will be very interesting to see what PB does next. I hope they focus a bit more on creating a living, breathing world similar to what they did in Gothic 1-2. The camps and towns in later games do not have the same charm and feeling of being alive that the Old Camp, Swamp Camp, Khorinis and so on does.
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August 25th, 2012, 16:53
Originally Posted by SirDeity View Post

In my humble opinion, nothing compares to the passion and awe I felt for the original Gothic game. Gothic 2 was a close second. Gothic 3 seemed to lose some of its charm in its unwarranted attempt to compete with Oblivion, but was still a great game. Gothic 4… well, let's just call it decent and leave it at that…

Now, Risen! What a game! Piranha bytes seemed to have found the spark which made Gothic 1 and 2 so fantastic! Another great game!
What is Gothic 4 doing on that list?
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