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First look at Risen 2: Dark Waters

To PC gamers, Risen is likely remembered as an entertaining RPG that was described as everything from beautiful to engrossing. To Xbox 360 gamers, Risen is generally remembered as a painful experience, where a solid RPG was brutally beaten down by several glitches and just overall poor execution. There really wasn’t much middle ground between the two platforms.

Piranha Bytes and Deep Silver are keenly aware of the problems that marred the first title, and they are determined to correct those mistakes with the upcoming Risen 2: Dark Waters.

For those that missed the first game, or hated it so much due to technical issues that you blocked it out, Risen was an open world RPG where fierce titans roamed the land. In the original game, you were shipwrecked on the island of Faranga, a volcanic island with a Mediterranean feel. You are given the option of joining one of three factions, and as you roam around an island so big that it has multiple climates, you work towards defeating the fire titan.

The second game takes place a few years after, and the hero of the original game has grown tired and bitter. His battle with the titan cost him an eye, his accomplishments were not recognized, and he is in a downward spiral. As the game begins, titans freely roam the world, and your quest is to stop them and find out why they are raging around the world.

In traditional RPG fashion, the game starts you with nothing, and you build yourself up. Unlike the previous title which was set on one island, the new game, which has a pirate theme, will feature several islands. The game retains the open world style of the first, but many areas will either be inaccessible until you gain certain items, or might be accessible but too difficult for players at lower levels.

The biggest change in the franchise might be found behind the scenes, and not in the actual gameplay. The Xbox 360 version of Risen was a port of the PC game, and a poor one at that. The developers are the first to admit it, and where most ports of titles are developed in tandem with the primary platform development, the original Risen was given a measly six months to develop the 360 version. The result was a glitch-filled game with substandard graphics, and numerous technical issues. Risen 2: Deep Waters is being developed for both consoles and the PC, and certain changes have been made with the console development in mind.

The most noticeable difference between the original and the sequel is the change from a single island to a series of islands. The game should be the same size as the original, if not bigger, but with multiple islands the console version can have time to lead each new area, which makes the game much easier to develop for.

The graphics were also severely criticized, and those will be receiving a huge upgrade as well. Both the characters and the environments will be high-resolution, and the world will continue to move with or without you, meaning that there will be an emphasis on the time system. Certain characters and quests will only be available at certain times, and the time of day can also affect the way you approach a mission. If you need to rob a house, night is the best time to try, or if you are having trouble with a monster, it might be asleep if you come back at night. Alternatively if you need to talk to a character, odds are better that you will find them in the day.

Each island, dungeon and town will have their own look, and there is going to be logic behind each area. In the pirate town we were shown, the developers explained that pirates are not natural builders, so the majority of the town will look slightly ramshackle, and older buildings will have been roughly converted. Dungeons will also match the look of each island, and they will have a look that matches the area you are in.

Firearms have also been introduced for the sequel, most items available will be usable and the attitudes of the enemies will determine their strength. If you are packing heat and the guy you are picking a fight with doesn’t seem the least bit frightened, then he probably isn’t because he knows he can crush you. Alternatively, if the enemy you are facing cowers from your might, then you should have no problem with them.

Expect to hear more about this game in the coming months. The version being displayed was pre-alpha, and no release date has been given other than a possible late 2011 or early 2012 window on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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