Risen 2: Dark Waters 2-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - August 27, 2014
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At only two years old, Risen 2 cannot be accused of looking dated yet. It has full and colorful environments, detailed character models, and actually some gorgeous lighting. However, it is not perfect and some of its graphical imperfections are hard not to see.
Among the first visual issues I experienced, and continued to experience throughout the game, was mesh pop-in. Textures always seemed to have loaded very quickly, so I never saw those appearing in front of me, but meshes routinely changed shape as I looked at them, as though they were actually being streamed in. Considering how near I was to many of the objects as this happened, it is nearly impossible to excuse it. What perhaps made this even worse was how it played with shadows. As the geometry would snap to a new shape, so would the shadows, which was somewhat jarring. It is weird to be talking to someone in the sunlight and then suddenly be in the shade.
The shadows themselves were not always that pretty either. Those projected on the ground were okay, but had an odd interference along their edges. Unless you specifically look at the shadows, there is a good chance you will not spot this, thanks to how far from the camera they are. Sadly, up close some of the shadows can be quite hideous. During one conversation, shadows were cast on my character's back and the camera was right there to see some of the jaggiest shadows I have seen of late.
Shadows are not the only things projected, which, in context, is unfortunate. Given the pirate aspect of the game, there are buried treasures for you to find, and to help you find them, red X's are placed on the ground once you have the map. These X's are not just applied to the ground though, as you can see the red being overlaid on the shovel as you dig, and even your character. At least that makes it clearly a HUD element, and not just pirates being stupid enough to mark their buried treasures.
On a positive note, the environments can be very lush and filled with grass, trees, and, depending on the plant life, a lot of color, too. Of course the grass is all sprites, which can make them look out of place compared to their surroundings, but it is not that bad. The sun beaming through the trees is definitely a great sight to see.
Unfortunately, there are places in the environment where texture seams almost jump out at you. Really I am not sure how most people would not notice this when they come across it.
Animations are not what I would call impressive. Too often characters would seem to throw their hands and arms around for no better reason than to have some movement. It is almost as though their limbs drive their diaphragms. Faces were not very emotive either. There are also AI issues, but I will cover those in the gameplay section.
Being a pirate-themed game, you would expect the water effects to be good, but you would be disappointed. Actually the effects looked near identical to the original game released three years prior. Moving through water does disturb it, but simply by placing an effect on the surface of the water. Do not expect to see character-generated ripples. Actually I cannot say there was much in the way of ripples to begin with. There were definitely waves though, and those had their own graphical issue.
If you walk along a beach, you will be able to see the waves coming in and changing the water level. No foam, just changing water levels. The issue is that the waves clip through the beach, instead of reacting to it or just stopping when they reach shore. Sure, water is pushed up a shore as it comes in, but that is not what this looks like.
Fire is pre-animated, but does have some character to it. Nothing too special about it, one way or the other, except that I noticed my torch would occasionally go out for no apparent reason.
Time to cover performance, so here are my specs:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
- PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
I had every setting turned on and up to its maximum, with the exception of depth-of-field, and almost never had any issues. There was the pop-in I mentioned earlier, as well as infrequent bouts of stuttering. I am not sure what caused the stuttering, but it did look to me like my computer started doing something else that was taking resources. I am not sure what it would be, but I did experience it.
I am not sure where best to put this, but here seems as good a place as any. You NEED to check the save files for Risen 2. This is a game that you want to save frequently in, but quick saves and auto saves do not overwrite previous copies. As each save comes in at 6 MB that can really add up, especially if you play like me, constantly pressing the quick save button every time you see something that could induce a re-load. When I spotted this I had almost 2 GB of saves. Luckily they compress easily, if you want to keep a complete archive of them.
To put it all together, the graphics of Risen 2 are decent, which is a step above mediocre. If it were not for that pop-in I experienced, I would have a better impression of them to share. The clipping waves do not help it either, but at least that does not hurt the graphics. It does not look good, but it does not hurt anything.