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June 1st, 2012, 12:29

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.
Madjack is offline




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