RISEN – Or Just a Little Bit Flat?

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Games
Tags: , , ,

Platform: PC, Xbox 360

Risen is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.  If you are a hardcore RPG fanatic like myself, then you will stick to this game like a stick insect on a sticky stick – in other words, it is quite addictive.

I am right in believing that this game scored reasonably high in the PC reviews during its release, but yet not so high for the Xbox 360 version, due mainly to its poor graphics in comparison to the ones on show for the PC.  I have been playing games since the year of the Spectrum, so to me graphics do not matter and I think it is very harsh to say that a game is ‘rubbish’ just because it has shoddy looks.  Isn’t a game all about the gameplay – hence the word ‘game’?  I wouldn’t know just how wonderful the game looks on the PC because I have not had the pleasure of playing it on that platform, but having seen the screenshots in comparison with the Xbox 360 ones, I would agree that the PC wins hands down.  If you’re one of those gamers who likes things to look all pretty and neat on your 22 inch HD monitor then go for the PC version.  However, if you don’t really care about every little graphical detail and see yourself as more of a console gamer, then get it for the Xbox 360 – there is no shame in this!

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version.  We all know that the graphics are woeful based on todays standards – we’ve already covered that, and we don’t care.  So, what about the gameplay?  The story is a little dull as temple ruins have risen from the ground and contain monsters which are now attacking the island that you have been shipwrecked onto – talk about having a bad day.  The controls are a bit dodgy, with the lock-on system not really working too well, and your inventory, map, journal etc is all assigned to the Xbox remote’s D-Pad, which seems a bit strange to me when there are a lot simpler buttons to use.  The D-Pad often causes some confusion because you can’t remember if left is for journal, right is for map, up is for inventory, etc and this can become such a frustration during combat because the game does not pause when you toggle these screens – so good luck finding that health potion!

What really makes this game good for me however, and what also allows me to forgive the developers for such shoddy controls, is the great voice acting on display and the various amounts of side-quests, helping give this game a lot to offer.  The lock-on system in combat may be slightly broken, but there is an automatic lock-on anyway as you get closer to your enemies which doesn’t make the combat as bad as you first think, but it does take some getting used to.  Don’t go into this game thinking that it is some type of hack-and-slash because it isn’t.  When in combat, you really have to take your time and some will be left feeling frustrated – but for others, it will feel rewarding when you do finally make that kill.

The levelling up system is similar to the one used in the PC game Gothic – but with the game having been made by the same developers, that’s hardly surprising.  When you level up, you gain ‘learning points’ which you have to spend to raise your stats, along with gold coins.  This can cost a lot of in-game money and take up a lot of time but it allows the player to gradually level up slowly instead of levelling everything up all at once, and it helps you feel more rewarded when you can finally afford to spend that 200 gold coin on toughening up your strength.

All of the RPG elements are here – you can go out hunting, digging for treasure, mining, blacksmithing, cooking or just stay at home all day making potions.  There is plenty to do and lots to explore on this little island, including one of three factions to join.  The one you choose will change the story of the game – giving it lots of replay value.  Do you want to be a rogue bandit?  Or do you prefer the monestery life?  You could even go and live in the City if you like…the three options are open to you near the beginning of the game, so choose wisely.

Unlike Oblivion, the enemies don’t level up with you, making you feel more accomplished when you finally go back and skin that annoying wolf that’s had it in for you all day.  If you like hardcore, old school RPG’s – buy this game.  If you’re expecting an Oblivion style combat and worlds, then don’t bother.


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