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April 30th, 2012, 01:59
Hi folks.

Yet another big RPG has been released, so it's time for impressions and what not. Feel free to contribute.

I'll get started. I just completed it with a marksman type of character, swords as back up weapons (nice to have when dealing with sand thingys and so on). My ending stats:

Played time: 27 hours (in-game, actual played time is no doubt longer)
Blades: 7
Firearms: 10
Toughness: 4
Cunning: 9
Voodoo: 2
Gold: 3263, but with enough loot to boost it by 10k at least if needed.
Completed side quests: All that I came across, except finding a few legendary items (mostly ones I had to buy for 2000 gold, didn't bother as they didn't provide me with relevant stat boosts) + a bugged quest (The King's Sword, I got the hilt for Soul Caller twice instead of one for Soul Caller and one for The King's Sword).

Let me first start out by stating that the game is longer than Risen, despite the low played time. The main reason the played time is so low is due to extensive use of quick travel, and in Risen 2 it's available right from the start, unlike every other PB game where you have to dig up teleport stones in order to quick travel. The game world is bigger than Risen, no doubt about that, so there's quite a few places to explore.

Moving on to the good stuff.

The graphics got something of a boost from Risen, but the overhaul is not a major one in my opinion. Like always, PB creates a very vivid world, filled with strong colors. PB really manages to create incredible environments. Too bad the same can't be said of their characters - this was one of few things I wanted them to improve from the original Risen, but the upgrade is.. not much of an upgrade. Also, there's the infamous "plant pop up" feature in Risen 2, which can be toned down by tweaking the ini file. I suggest doing so. Beyond that, I had no technical issues at all - no crashes, no weird graphical glitches, no hiccups, nothing. I came across one bugged quest (the sword I mentioned above), but that's it.

For reference, my rig:
- OS: Windows 7
- CPU: Intel i7-2600K
- RAM: 16 GB
- GPU: Asus GTX 680
- I do have an SSD for my OS and similar, but Steam is installed on a regular 7200 RPM drive. Saving and loading was still very fast and smooth, however.

Disclaimer: I have no idea how it performs on other systems.

Rock solid as always. Not a lot to say there. The voice acting is better than in previous PB games (English that is), and the music might not have been as priceless as that in Gothic 3, but overall the sound is great.

Why did they alter a system that worked so well in Risen? I have no idea. The menus and what not are quite good, as are the hotkeys, but the combat actually takes longer to get the hang of than the one in Risen. Also, even once you do get the hang of it, it doesn't feel as smooth as it does at its best in Risen. The biggest loss is the lack of dodging, which really sucks once you face gorillas, alligators and so on.

I originally intended to play a melee character, but once I got a musket I abandoned that idea as muskets are so much better at dealing with certain annoying enemies (mainly due to the lack of proper blocking and dodging). No idea how good voodoo is yet, but I'll be trying that out in the next few days.

There are a few QTEs, but nothing major. They're more of a nuisance than anything else. I did find the final fight a bit odd though:

Spoiler – Final fight

My biggest complaint is actually the lack of memorable armor. PB has always been good at making armors distinguishable, something of a symbol, an achievement. In Risen 2 I barely even paid attention to what I was wearing. Most items looked similar, with minor differences. Getting native armor for a voodoo using character or inquisition armor for a musketeer would've been nice.

Character development
Character development got a completely overhaul. Regular stats are gone, replaced by talents and skills. Talents are the "stats" in this case, and determine your base skill at something, while skills can be bought from trainers once you reach a high enough talent level. Example: Blades determine your melee fighting skills, and in order to train the power attack skill, you need Blades rank 2. Talent ranks are bought for experience, or "glory points" as they're called.

The system works well enough, though no better or worse than previous systems. In all previous PB game except NotR, it's been possible to create powerhouses early in the game by pumping virtually every point into melee skills + strength. The main difference now is that such builds can't be made because of the increased glory point cost per talent increase (Blades 3 costs more than Blades 2). Whether preventing such builds is a good or a bad thing boils down to personal preference.

Also, I feel the cunning requirements are off the charts in a some cases. I focused quite a bit on cunning early on, but a lot of conversations were still far too demanding for me to choose the silver tongue option. A lot of them are not possible to repeat, which means it's actually expected that some players might have high enough silver tongue skill by the time they get to the conversation. I really don't understand how that's possible, unless every available glory point is spent on cunning and every gold coin is spent training persuasion.

This is one of the best new additions. I like having companions, bringing them along really makes exploration quite a bit easier. They do have some interesting conversations (more than Skyrim, less than BioWare), though they're obviously intended for combat and comic relief more than deep, soul searching philosophy. Small piece of advice: Don't build your character around having a companion, as they might not always be available. I learned that the hard way by pumping cunning like crazy in the start to get high conversation and thievery skills.

Story and setting
The other great addition is the setting. The whole pirate thing with muskets and what not works. It feels refreshing. They did take the whole slavery bit a tad too far from my point of view, but other than that I'd say the setting is a huge success. Hopefully, we'll see PB trying even more new stuff in the future, as they are clearly capable of making interesting settings.

The story is decent, certainly above most PB stories. In fact, I'd say it's better than most open world RPG main quests, but worse than most narrative RPGs (Mass Effect and similar).

There were a few really annoying fetch quests though, especially related to finding X objects spread out over a fairly large area. Overlook a single object and you might end up combing an area several times just to find it.

There are several areas to explore (five islands, including the Treasure Isle DLC + three areas connected to continents), so there's no lack of exploration options once you get a ship. However, it's all a bit more streamlined than I would've liked: Going somewhere usually means you have a very specific goal in mind, instead of just roaming around.

It's worth mentioning that PB is still PB though: There are quite a few hidden treasures to find, some more valuable than others. The best treasures in the game are usually hidden pirate treasures, which tend to be a real bonus to find.

Also, the atmosphere is very good, as always.

As I've already mentioned in several other threads, I honestly wanted PB to simply improve Risen in a few ways: Better looking characters/animations and a bigger, more refreshing world to explore. I felt such small improvements could turn Risen 2 into another Gothic 2, maybe even with NotR. Let me be blunt: Risen 2 is not another Gothic 2, with or without NotR.

It's a good game, by all means. It's rock solid, in fact. However, it really is "two steps forward, one step back" as others have pointed out. The setting, voice acting, companions and story all take a step in the right direction, but at the cost of exploration, factions and certain gameplay issues. Also, it's technically superior to most PB games: Very few bugs, crashes or other issues that I came across. In fact, the most annoying issue I've discovered so far is the whole "stacking save game" issue - quick saves and autosaves stack indefinitely, so the save game folder ends up being massive after a while. After completing the game, my save game folder contained:
- 1442 different save games.
- 2886 different files
- 8,67 GB

Anyway, I really don't see the point in whatever streamlined they've done. Risen 2 is still a hardcore game, no doubt about it. I simply don't see how anyone that did not enjoy previous PB games is all of a sudden going enjoy Risen 2 - it's still a challenging PB game at the core. They'd have to abandon their own formula completely to reach the mass market, which is something I really hope they refuse to do.

I'd say Risen 2 is a 7 or 8, depending on the player. I've got a fairly strict scale though, so that's a good score. I enjoyed it a lot, but there's clearly room for improvement.

There's probably a lot more to say, and I assume I've missed a few points here and there, so feel free to comment or ask questions or your own impressions or what not.

I'll be playing a voodoo based character now, cheerio.
Last edited by Maylander; April 30th, 2012 at 02:46.
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