Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
As a fan of Piranha Bytes’ past work, Gothic I and II, my love for the series dwindled dramatically after a disappointing third game. And when Bethesda released Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion that same year, my views on RPG’s changed forever. Still, after enjoying the PC version of Risen last year, I was interested to see how the development team handled moving to the Xbox 360, despite the fact it was released last month in almost completely under the radar.
To set you up for the story, in case you haven’t played the PC version, you play the role of a nameless character that ends up being one of the two sole survivors of a shipwreck on the mysterious volcanic island of Faranga. Ancient temples have risen from the ground due to recent seismic activity and bizarre creatures are terrorizing the area. A group of powerful men who call themselves "The Inquisitors" have taken it upon themselves to put an end to these events by sending a group, which you are part of, to investigate.
Role playing games, to me, should be a maximum ten percent combat and to ninety percent exploration and storytelling. That’s the way classic RPG’s are structured and I was fine with that. They brought us into the world through story and exploration gameplay. I know that RPG’s have evolved since the first Gothic game was released back in 2001 but Risen managed to bring back that old feel while offering a great new experience.
There are, however, some obvious and notable irritants that the new generation of RPG players won’t just put up with or understand. However, while most of the technical flaws were manageable on the PC version, the Xbox 360 experience is simply unbearable. The X-axis sensitivity, which can not be adjusted in the option menus, is too high, making simple exploration, camera work and combat very frustrating.
The combat system and its two button set-up, one for attacks and the other for parrying, leads you to expect that it’s a walk in the park. Instead, it ends up being a real challenge. On the console version, one chain attack out of three does not seem to respond. Because of this, you will die, and so often that you’ll be left cursing at your TV. This real-time combat system, which is exactly the same as in the PC version, will make the unexperienced console-only players cringe. It manageable with the PC version but trying to perform the same actions with an Xbox 360 controller just doesn’t work as well. My biggest nuisance was not being able to pick up items laying around or even opening chest boxes reliably unless I was in a very specific position.
But the port isn’t all bad, as the inventory system, quests and overall design are trying very hard at immersing you in the world. It’s just too bad that the rest wasn’t fixed properly in the move to consoles.
Graphics and Audio
Risen is far from the best looking console role playing game I have ever played. Not only is it extremely far from what I’ve gotten used to seeing but its miles behind what even the PC version looked like back in 2001. Inconsistent framerates, poor character renders and terrain textures hurt the experience. There’s a great sense of detail when it comes to environments but the port work completely destroys it.
Audio wise, it’s the same as in the PC version; a superb mix of environmental sounds, interesting soundtrack and solid voice work. I wasn’t expecting an overhaul in this department as, unlike the graphics, the audio is what carries the game’s quality a tad over mediocrity.
Like most RPG’s, the overall value of Risen is hard to put into numbers exactly because, if you’re a hardcore RPG gamer who put hundreds of hours into other similar games, this will be a treat. However, if you are looking for a quick get-in and get-out RPG experience, this is not the game for you and certainly not on the Xbox 360. It may not be the worst Xbox 360 RPG out there (not unless you ignore Two Worlds) but there are far better choices available. Now, if you have to choose between the console or PC version of Risen, I would strongly recommend to go PC.
Risen can only be understood by experienced and patient RPG players, particularly those who played the past Gothic titles. Very few games are excused by players who are willing to look past the flaws in exchange for a throwback story-exploration experience. However, I must say that games like this one, who are already holding on by only a few solid strings on one platform, should never be ported to a console unless they’re completely overhauled. Seeing it hit the Xbox 360 after Oblivion, Fable 2, Fallout 3, Dragon Age Origins and even the surprisingly good Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, just leaves it looking like a huge disappointment. I now understand better why it wasn’t marketed more heavily by its publisher. If you have an unconditional love for the Gothic series but, for some reason, stopped playing games on your PC, you might end up being able to appreciate this rough port. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
+ Detailed indoor/outdoor environments
+ Throwback RPG experience
+ 50+ hours of gameplay if willing to overlook the flaws
+ Controls are easy to learn...
- Voice work leaves much to be desired at times
- Lots of framerate issues
- Visuals are less impressive compared to the PC version
- The bad port work destroys the game’s true potential
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Release Date : 2010/02/23
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Deep Silver
Developer : Piranha Interactive
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
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