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About the product
- Game is divided into 4 chapters and lets you decide which side you will join
- Spells can be cast either through a scroll or a rune (30 different spells)
- Full world streaming support - No loading of screens
- With each level, the character learns and improves his skills
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A sweeping story captivates players from the start! An epic story in an authentic world hand-crafted with an eye for detail and populated by "real", plausible characters. A Mysterious Volcanic Island The heavy tremors on the island bode ill for its inhabitants. Ancient temples have risen from the ground recently, bizarre creatures are terrorising the area. Fear and terror is spreading among the population. The End of All Hope? A group of powerful men who call themselves "The Inquisitors" have taken it upon them-selves to put an end to these events. They send an exhibition to this remote island, but a storm takes hold of the ship and destroys it at sea. A Hero Will Come As if by a miracle, the player survives the shipwreck and is stranded on the volcanic island alone. He finds himself amidst a chaos of rebellion, tyranny and mystic rituals. He must now decide to which side the pendulum of fate will swing.
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I am a longtime RPG fan and have been very pleasantly surprised by many of the games coming from European developers over the past few years. What started as a "time killer" when taking breaks from online games like EverQuest (1) and Lord of the Rings Online has opened my eyes to some of the more obscure releases. Like most RPG players, I of course was familiar with The Elder Scrolls games, but although comparisons are inevitable, most of the Euro games have a much different feel. Risen is no exception. As has been abundantly stated already, it is essentially a sequel to the Gothic series, so if you liked those games, Risen carries on the tradition in fine form. However, if Oblivion is the game by which you judge all others, Risen may not be your cup of tea. I personally found Oblivion to be rather stiff in terms of both combat and overall gameplay, with Risen being much more fluid. Oblivion does look a bit more polished, but I'm of the opinion that third-person perspective makes for a more enjoyable gaming experience, especially in combat-heavy games. Combat in Risen is understandably quite similar in overall feel to its Gothic predecessors, although with some variations. Interaction with the game environment - picking plants, mining ore, opening doors and chests, and creating player-made items - generally incorporates specific animations and text/voice feedback, rather than just popping something into your inventory unannounced.
Much has been said about character development in Risen, whether good or bad. Early on, the shipwrecked main character will have all the resources of a caveman, meaning some sort of club, plants, raw meat and maybe a shiny rock or two. First inclination might be to use things as you find them, but some items will be of later use. For each level gained, training points are awarded, which can be used (often with some cash offering) to start molding your character into a respectable adventurer. You can't have it all though, at least not right away, so some weapon training is a wise choice, along with lock picking. Alchemy, smithing, prospecting and gutting of animals are all useful, but combat skills can be developed to a much greater extent. I opted to train primarily with swords and crossbows, with strength being the required attribute; bows and a couple of other weapons depend on dexterity. Something to keep in mind is that there is rarely only one way of getting items you need for quest completion, even in the deepest of dungeons. Furthermore, I never found myself prevented from coming back to an area later if for some reason I wasn't able to complete a task there right away. That goes not only for items, but also for battle with tougher opponents. And although there are no horses or other mounts, fast-travel methods do show up as you explore the island. Expect to do a lot of running around early on, and take advantage of the various maps!
NPC interaction is critical to any RPG, and for the most part, Piranha Bytes did a fine job in that area. The voice acting is vastly improved over previous Gothic titles. Most dialog between the player and NPCs uses the regular character models rather than animated cut scenes, so it may not be as "pretty" as in some games, but is well executed in general. In playing through the entire game (outlaw faction) I didn't find ANY bugs caused by NPCs being absent or unresponsive. However, be aware that NPCs may very well end up fighting monsters during the course of their daily routines (yes, NPCs have more to do than wait around for you to bother them) and although NPCs crucial to the main storyline are for all practical purposes immortal, those involved in various side quests aren't necessarily so sturdy! A few times, I saw NPCs try and fail to fight monsters before I'd talked to them for side quests. Also, if an NPC assists you in battle against a monster without explicitly *joining* you, they will be as vulnerable to your attacks as the monster, so be careful! Risen is M-rated for a reason. There are some spoken "f-bombs" sprinkled here and there, some sexual references (although nothing graphic) and use of various substances that might not be appropriate for younger players. There is the usual video game violence, of course.
Risen isn't flawless, although most issues I encountered pertain to gameplay and pacing rather than stability. On a couple of occasions, I did stop and restart the game because movement started to "stutter" or act bogged down. It's mostly the camera angles that bothered me, given the game's propensity for either zooming in to the back of your head or being completely obscured by terrain when in close quarters . . . such as at the edge of a cliff (as it turns out) or while fighting in a dungeon. When fighting multiple opponents at once, it also seems to arbitrarily target them, regardless of which is closest or immediately attacking you. Once or twice, I did get "hung up" when trying to interact with certain items, but backing up and approaching from a different angle corrected this. And after having fully trained my hero in swordfighting, I found that some combination of mouse clicks would actually sheathe my sword in the middle of combat! This didn't occur until my training was complete or nearly so (I trained three levels in one training session, so I can't be sure) and not at earlier levels. Weird.
Finally, I have to join the crowd in saying that the ending was disappointing. Actually, a couple of things were disappointing regarding character/story development in the last chapter or so. Once it's established that you're the island's last, best hope for survival, the inhabitants apparently become shy in your presence, because there is very little interaction with all but the integral quest NPCs from that point on. That damsel in distress who seemed so into you? Cold shoulder. The ghost you awakened, so eager to send you out on arguably your most dangerous quest? Don't expect any enlightenment or fantastic tales when you return successfully. Perhaps the biggest letdown is the final battle, which throws all of your training out the window with a sequenced arcade-style boss fight that falls flat compared to the otherwise excellent combat throughout the game. That's really the end of the game, too, with no further opportunity to revisit your favorite locales and inhabitants. Just a brief cut scene and the credits roll. So, if you have any loose ends at all to tie up, do so before embarking on that last phase of the main quest.
So, all in all, Risen is quite a good game. It's not nearly as buggy as Gothic 3, better executed than would-be competitors (Two Worlds, Fable, etc.) and open for all kinds of good ol' adventuring without ever getting too repetitive. The ending could have been better, but I suppose that's what expansions and sequels are for. If you are looking to get a few more miles out of your old PC and like spending many hours (40+ if not more, with side quests) in a mostly non-linear environment, Risen is a good choice.
Second, it left the impression of a mix of Gothic 1 and 2. A bit on the easy side, even on Hard, especially since you can now block wild anumals with your shield. [spoiler alert] Also a bit of a deja vu; not just the gameplay, but the story is also very similar to the first Gothic's, with a mix of the second one's. [/spoiler alert] In any case, the game mechanics have been arguably improved, lower difficulty settings offer newbies a chance to beat this game without frustration, and controls are also easy (though I really loved the Gothic 1 way of moving around and interacting and also used it in Night of the Raven); most of all, the graphics are pretty, and modern (unless you're some sort of modern FPS fan with a $1000 GPU, you should like them), though sadly AA doesn't work, at least on AMD cards, and though Gothic 3's graphics can be even prettier if properly tuned externally (and I personally liked G2's graphics enough to only regret it not having realistic shadows like G3).
So basically, if you're a Piranha Bytes fan, you should play this one. If you've never played one of their games, you're better off buying the original Gothic (most amazing RPG ever! And not too long! Though old-school, so hard, especially until you get a grip on the controls), but in case its age or difficulty scare you off, or you can't find it anywhere, then this one is a good substitute.
I'm already trying the demo of Risen 2, though a lot seems to be missing, like real spells and the ability to climb anything (two of my favorite activities). In fact, I forgot to mention: even here, even though the game takes place on an island again, the hero simply cannot swim! Swimming was important even storywise for Gothic, and was still pleasant in Gothic 3 (+Community Patch 1.74+), though dumbed down, but here it's been completely removed :(.
As a summary: great long free-world RPG with a decent main story, which however is lacking some stuff compared to the Gothic series (swimming, innovation, difficulty, and a bit of graphics).
Other things that make this game interesting is the fact that whatever you earn, find, steal or scavenge feels valuable. You are always just one step ahead of the story and every move you make feels like a gamble and many times it is! You'll definitely be reloading your last SAVE game often, which is actually quite refreshing considering that many games allow you to level up to near invincibility before the second act even starts (Witcher, Witcher II and Divinity II get props for avoiding this common game gutter as well).
o You can totally toke up in this game - Risen (and Gothic II) feature "weed," "brugleweed" and "weed reefer(s)".
o Exploration and stealth pay off nicely, possibly because the game doesn't ever try to force you into the shadows.
o Many times you'll feel like you have devised some unusual strategy that wasn't forseen by the developers, but if you pay attention you'll see that "your strategy" was not only anticipated but it is only one of many strategies that would lead to your desired outcome.
Before this gets too long winded I'll just say that this game rewards patience and you should pick it up at the next sale or even now!
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