Everybody loves pirates. Traveling the seven seas looking for treasure and rum... oh, it makes me want to pack all this writing lark in and build my own little ship to set sail in. So itís fantastic to see the spirit of the buccaneer is alive and well in Risen 2. Only in this game, youíre not exactly looking for royalties and fame. Youíre seeking a way to save the world from the tyrannical grasp of a race called the Titans.
Playing the hero of the previous Risen
game, you join a faction of rifle-loving turncoats known collectively as the Inquisition. You make the career choice after attempting to save the world from destruction in your past adventure, only to discover that you only managed to protect a single island. Sucks to be you. Word gets around that a Pirate faction has knowledge of how to beat the Titans, however - so in Risen 2
it is your job to infiltrate the enemy pirate crew and uncover the secret. By any means necessary.
Throughout your new journey, you can opt to pledge allegiance to one of two factions - the Natives and the Inquisition. The benefits to each amount to a simple case of varying combat and ability proficiency - the Inquisition allows you to be a crack shot using firearms, which can be used to stun enemies if equipped.
Natives, on the other hand, have the ability to use magic and voodoo powers. This is where it gets cool. You can create dolls that allow you to take direct control of an NPC, allowing for multiple ways to complete various quests. Black magic can also be used to turn enemies against one another.
Other interesting features that are new to Risen 2
include the ability to unlock crew members that serve you on your vessel. When you disembark to explore an island, you have the opportunity to choose one of your crewmates to follow you around as a companion. Makes the whole trek a little less lonely. And if you donít want to bother with that, you can also buy a pet monkey which can keep you company and be used to survey areas.
The environments are gorgeous and the atmosphere spot-on for a pirate adventure. In the first segment I played, my character was able to explore a tavern and speak to drunkards for information. As well as taking part in drinking contests, of course. Guess which of these activities I did first. Go on, guess.
But as exciting as it all looks and sounds, there are some worries when it comes to actually playing the game. Although combat has been improved over the first Risen
game, itís still pretty iffy. You can lock on to targets, but thereís no visual representation of your lock-on, nor is there any way to switch targets easily whilst locked on. Attacking enemies feels a bit clumsy, with most battles involving you stabbing a button a few times, running away and repeating the process.
Itís easy to get lost too. In another segment of gameplay, I had made my way into a Native village, performing tasks for the tribe to gain their trust so I could chase down a pirate chap named Crow. As I tackled the varied and interesting hunting and gathering missions, I ended up wandering into a grassy mountainous area which took me about ten minutes to get back on track.
Youíd think at this point, ďSvend you numpty, just use the minimap.Ē Well, thereís no minimap to help you when you do get lost. Just a compass. This means you have to constantly screen-swap between gameplay and menus in order to double-check your position and get around. The developer explained that this was a design decision, to make the experience more authentic. Sadly, the effect it has on me was just frustration.
The Xbox 360 version I played had some major texture popup, frame rate issues and lighting problems to boot. Iím told that the game has yet to be fully optimised - which is fine except for the ominous feeling that the stability of the code hasnít really changed since I last saw it four months ago. With the game out in April, the developer hasnít got a lot of time left to power through all of these very significant troubles.
I truly hope it does though, because this could be a really interesting and exciting alternative to the sea of action-RPGs already out there. When I first saw Risen 2 at E3
I noted that Piranha Bytes was trying its damndest to avoid a repeat of the first gameís shocking console performance. It just needs that little extra push to ensure that this doesnít actually become a reality once again.