This phase of the ‘process’ is often a moment of truth. You’ve seen the (hands-off) demonstration, you’ve heard the talk… now it’s time to test and see for yourself. Risen 2 showed a lot of promise when we saw it last – a less complex (but just as deep) game world, improved mechanics, a setting that’s both familiar and unique, playing upon popular themes such as curses, pirates and just some good old fashioned slap-stick comedy. We were optimistic, to say the least, and we were eager to get some hands on with the game.
Our hands-on test with Risen 2 was with the 360 build, which as we mentioned last time is actually being handled by another studio. Now, despite that studio (the same guys who did the port of the first game), being involved from the ground up this time, the graphics on the build we played didn’t look that great, almost last gen in fact. Now, we’re going to say right now that could be due to any number of things – an early build, the studio leaving the graphical improvements till last (we remember one developer from the Medal of Honor studio saying that doing graphics was the ‘easy’ bit)… as poor as it looked, we’re not going to make a judgement on that score until the final code is in our hands. We’re just saying, that’s how it was… we imagine the PC build though is looking fine.
Ready, aim… FIRE!
Graphical issues aside, it still plays as well as we thought it would when we saw it last year. Combat was one of the things they talked a lot about at the initial showing, and we got a fair taste of that – you don’t have to lock on to just one person; instead you can slash away at one and suddenly backslash at the guy coming behind you. Whilst not completely seamless, you can also pull out a pistol or a ranger weapon and use that as well, although ranged combat is more traditional in the sense that your success is based on your stats.
We also got to experiment with some of the tricks and talents you can use during combat and non-combat situations – using the parrot for example is a great way to distract your enemies so that you can either run away or get the jump on them, and we’re told there are other skills that are in a similar vein. The monkey is great for getting into small places, and is mainly used in the exploration part of the game. Also in true RPG fashion, weapons, clothing etc… give you different stat boosts and bonuses, which helps fuel the loot system the game has. You can even craft your own weapons.
Several facets of the game seem to be tied to which faction you side with – the natives or the Inquisition. Going native means that you’ll have access to the Voodoo talent (one of five main talents that you can develop your character in), and the Inquisition will allow you to develop firearms and the Firearms talent. Now we’re not sure exactly how much you can dabble in both, but we were told that using firearms too much will lock you out of the Native ‘path’, so we assume it works both ways. The way you approach certain quests, and which faction specific quests you receive will also depend on this choice.
So… Voodoo, eh? How’s that working for you?
In the build we played, we had already had that choice made for us – the Natives. Now, being a Brit, I’m naturally predisposed to imposing my will on the locals, so it’s a shame I couldn’t try out the Inquisition side of things. Even still you could see where the two paths would cross, and the limited test we did showed the diverse range of tasks you’ll need to perform throughout your adventures. There are also several mini-games to keep you amused – we found the drinking one especially challenging, although we triumphed in the end, and even won a map. We didn’t do so well on the clay pigeon range though.
So, we dare say so far so good. We hope the console code picks up on the graphical fidelity aspect; otherwise it might not do any better than the original game’s console version did. Still, from a pure gameplay perspective it’s quite fun so far, and there’s plenty to get into – we imagine the same will be so for the PC SKU as well. There’s plenty we were told about last time that we didn’t get a chance to test – for example since we were only playing a brief snippet of the game, we couldn’t really see how the story was coming along. Still a lot of potential here and definitely one to watch, if not look forward to. Risen 2: Dark Waters is due out on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on April 24th in North America, and April 27th in Europe.
Most Anticipated Feature: Finding out what happened to the Hero’s eye.