Risen 2: Dark Waters
Risen 2 was one of the biggest disappointments of the year when it launched on PC back in April, and the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 port was delayed in an effort to give the console version a chance to right the ship. No such luck; the pirate action/RPG is noticeably worse on console than on PC for a host of reasons, the foremost being that the sorely needed dodge feature that was patched into the original after release is missing in action.
Waking up hung over, Risen 2’s antihero is immediately press-ganged into heading up a last-ditch effort to stop a vengeful titan from destroying the few remnants of humanity. The grand adventure spans multiple islands, each inhabited by deadly monsters and a diverse array of characters who can be friends, enemies, or allies on your quest, depending on the choices you make. The usual loot and leveling RPG trappings complement the swashbuckling action and clever dialogue.
The dialogue and quests are well written, trope busting, and often funny. Most situations allow for a variety of clever, sarcastic, or plain mean responses that paint the unnamed protagonist in an amusingly unflattering light. He has no time for the contrived setups that define most RPG quests and lets the NPCs know it. Risen 2’s tone and setting are a wonderful break from typical RPG settings, with selfish governors being defrauded by lazy guards who are colluding with honorable pirates – none of whom are spared the hero’s caustic tongue. Too bad this great setup is wasted by incompetent execution.
Fifteen to twenty hours of gameplay later, earning enough new abilities and improved equipment makes combat easier to tolerate in order to get to the good stuff. Making it to that point is a test of endurance and patience, even for gamers like me who give Risen 2 every chance to succeed on the strength of the first game and the promise of the world and characters.
The PC original had the same problems, but a post-release patch made a marked improvement by adding a useful dodge feature that allowed player skill to overcome some of the horrible combat design. Unfortunately, that addition is not included in the console version. Publisher Deep Silver does not have any plans to release it later, citing the space restrictions "certain first-parties" put on title updates. Between that and the inferior graphics, framerate, and interface, I strongly recommend going with the PC version over this lackluster console port.