Risen 2: Dark Waters Hands-On Preview and Interview
by Mark R
Back in June, we had a chance to get our first look at Risen 2: Dark Waters during our exhaustive coverage of E3. It was quite an eye opener at the time as the graphics had been improved considerably from the first game and a little droplet of excitement once again oozed out as I feasted my eyes on the rolling vistas and treacherous coastlines. That was, as mentioned above, only two months ago and yet so much has happened since then. A thirty minute presentation of pre-recorded gameplay footage had been re-shot with new scenes and those of us itching to visit Caldera would be afforded the opportunity on the show floor.
With more than an hour to spare before my first appointment at Gamescom, and with Hall 7 being directly opposite the Press Centre, I caught a glimpse of the now-familiar red flag beckoning me towards it… and so I answered the call. The booth itself was perfectly kitted out in typical pirate affair – bamboo cage, guys with striped shirts and eye patches, all finished off with palm trees dominating the vast space above my head. I wasn’t here to check out the decor though, and so I headed to one of the available PCs and struggled through the German menu until I found the correct combination of keys to start the demo.
The gameplay was fluid and the textures were better than expected, assuming that the rigs on the show floor would have been a more mainstream set up than most PC gamers would have at their disposal, and it was exactly what you’d expect from a follow up to Risen… except with pirates. I’d like to be able to comment on the dialogue options but, as I don’t speak Germany beyond “Ja wohl Herr Schmidt” (points to anyone who gets that reference), I can’t say whether it offers more choice than the original game BUT there were certainly a lot of options available and in our presentation with Daniel Oberlerchner the following day, we noticed a great deal more humour than before.
As is customary whenever I get my hands on an open world title, I like to ignore everyone and run off to do my own thing. It means that I may end up wandering into a level twenty quest location, as was the case with Vindasel in Oblivion, but it also means that I get to quickly understand the terrain and how best to approach certain aspects. It didn’t quite work out that way with Risen 2, however, as I wandered down to the beach and was immediately mesmerised by the sight of a hulking galleon (although I’m sure pedants would point out otherwise) and a mid-day sun glistening on crystal clear waters. The water in Risen was always incredible, and I remember standing at the edge of a stream in awe, watching it caress smoothed pebbles as it found its way to a frothy drop, to the point where I dragged Lorna through to show her both the realism and attention to detail. I didn’t think it could be improved upon, but Piranha Bytes have clearly tweaked something somewhere because I had that overwhelming urge to “drop trou” and dive in for a quick swim.
The combat was as intuitive as the previous game, although it could be argued that I was already familiar with the play style and was therefore geared up to switch over to muscle memory. Either way, it was a bit of a kick ass experience in more ways than one. As is touched on by Daniel, the initial island is more or less what we’ve come to know as a tutorial level by modern RPG standards in that it’s almost impossible to be killed and serves more as away to familiarise the player with techniques and controls. Having said that, I still had one or two cans of Wupass (now with no added sugar) opened up on me thanks to my lack of any real weaponry.
Character animations and meshes are obviously not up to the standards of Crysis yet, but we’ve come to expect that anyway, but do appear to have been refined somewhat for the sequel. Patty has grown her hair and, for whatever reason, has lost a bit of her sex appeal this time around. Maybe it was the fact that she had more choppy hair and a bit of a mouth on her that I adored her so much, but this new Patty is considerably cleaner and with less sarcasm than before. Perhaps that will change as the game progresses though, as I don’t know many pirates who subscribe to the Mary Whitehouse school of thought.
As we’ve already covered the preview here and will undoubtedly get a more extensive hands-on as the release date grows nearer, I’ll save the more in depth coverage for nearer the time and leave you with our interview with Daniel Oberlerchner – a gentleman, a scholar and, from what I heard through the grapevine, an acrobat. Risen 2 will be hitting the shelves in the first half of 2012… buy it, or you’ll be walking the plank! Risen 2 will undoubtedly be my top RPG for 2012.
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