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May 26th, 2012, 18:48
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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