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Please NOTE this is my review as written for www.ConsoleMonster.com
Pirate games are pretty popular at the moment, so when news came that Piranha Bites were porting their [mediocre] PC title Risen 2: Dark Waters over to the Xbox 360, and delayed it so as to improve the game for the next-generation gamers, many wondered what Risen 2 could bring to the pirating table....Yarrrrr!
You fill the tattered leather boots of the 'Nameless Hero' from the first game Risen. After Risen ended you fled with the inquisition's soldiers, but now your Hero has become nothing more than a hollow, bitter, old drunk. Sporting the stereotypical pirates eyepatch your adventure starts in Caldera Harbour, where the Kraken sea monster envelops a passing ship and you are sent to find survivors on the shore. Your journey doesn't stop at lifeguarding duties, as you'll soon find yourself befriending the female pirate Patty on her search for the world renown pirate Gregorious Emanuel Steelbeard, namely Patty's Father.
Your interests aren't so much with finding Pattys long lost Father, instead it's the knowledge that Steelbeard knows of a weapon, capable enough of not only slaying the demented Kraken, but even the Titan lords fighting over Caldera as you set off on your various quests.
It's a pretty run-of-the-mill plot. It's not overly inspiring, but neither is it dull. You do have a little say in your Hero's path, although ultimately your dialogue is pre-determined and set for a single destination. Even though the game does have a pretty thick story, you'll be inclined to skip 90% of your dialogue cut-scenes, for the simple fact that the voice acting lacks emotion and doesn't even flow well. Instead, you're left with klunky, jittery debates [sometimes sexist] with Patty and others where what you're saying barely matches the movements of your mouth.
Risen 2 will last you a fair while, we're talking in the region of less than one hundred hours if you look to complete every aspect of the game. For the most part you'll be clashing swords with humans [ok, not so much humans] and wee beasties, along with being set on a variety of tasks. These tasks will help you to upgrade your Hero via perks such as advanced combative moves and better firearms experience. It's just a shame that Risen 2's combat system is disastrous to bordering on unplayable.
You know you're in for a rough ride with a combat system when upon finding your weapon you're told that your first [and only] combo is X, X, X. You'll win hand-to-hand combat by either out-lasting your opponent, or simply hoping that the animation lets you strike first blood. Now, doesn't that just make you want to smash through 10 hours of the game to get to a point where your character is good enough for the combat system to become a little more tolerable...? I think not.
Things can only improve for Risen 2, right? Wrong. Graphically this has to be one of the poorest titles to be released on the Xbox 360 for a good while. As I said before, the dialogue scenes give you an instant impression of where this game is going in terms of visuals, and sadly things simply get worse and worse. Characters look out of place with bright skin tones (as if the sun is shinning upon them) whilst standing in shade or under foliage. When you turn on the spot, or back on yourself the judders you witness will make you feel like you're driving a car for this first time and trying to figure out how to work the gears. Backgrounds are re-used, so you'll almost feel like Frodo Baggins screaming "we've been here before Sam" [if you happen to have your friend Sam round at this particular time]. Buildings can look ok from afar, but as you get closer textures change, roof tiles move about and doors judder on the spot.
The PC version of the game was nothing special, so the fact that Piranha Bites has taken a fair while longer to create an even worse title makes you wonder what they were doing all that time? Also where's the ship combat, why can't we go toe-to-toe with two massive ships, sails blowing in the wind, cannonballs whistling by your head. Such a simple inclusion would have lifted the game to become bearable to play.
Overall, this is definitely a game to avoid. There is a slightly enjoyable title hidden within 20 hours of gameplay, but ask yourself is it really worth all that work for something that even at it's best is average. The visuals will make you feel woozy and the combat system is simply pointless - winning battles has no achievement attached to it unlike RPGs such as Witcher 2. I would say that they've tried to improve on a sub-par PC title and given next-generation gamers a pirating title that will have you engrossed from start through to finish, but I'd be lying. Piranha Bites need to take a step back, take a long hard look in the mirror and realise that it has failed it's fanbase. Epic Fail.