Risen 3: Titan Lords

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The Risen series does not need any great presentations, resulting from misunderstandings between Piranha Bytes software house and JoWood publisher, this saga represents the spiritual continuation of Gothic's intellectual property that was lost by the developer in 2007. This third episode but surprised both the job-makers and the most hardened fans - presented in a hurry at the end of February - is now ready to be installed on the PC's hard drives (the platform on which it was designed), the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The long introduction is divided into two phases: in the first, few minutes, the protagonist lives a dream in which his own vessel is driven by a ghost ship; waking up from the nightmare will sail on the Coast of the Crabs looking for a treasure together with Sister Patty, a knowledge of Dark Waters.

Once reached, however, the casket will be overwhelmed by a dark skeleton (a "Shadow") that will steal the soul. Just a few days after the burial, the young son of the Silver Bearded Pirate will be untied by Bones, a former pirate in turn returning from the outbreak. Starting from this moment the insidious adventure of a new unnamed (the hero of the previous two episodes will still be encountered in our peregrinations) that, as always in the initial strokes, is an empty shell to fill. If the incipit has more than a few doubts in its pretestuousness (and it is no wonder, considering the tradition of the Piranha Bytes), the story buys mordant as you continue in the main quest. We will then discover that the world has been abandoned by the gods and that it will touch the player to end the threat posed by the Titans, while at the same time seeking to recover the soul that has been stolen. It is not necessary to have played the previous episodes to understand what is happening, though references to the past are still very strong and certain situations will only be appreciated by those who have followed the saga since 2009, the year of the debut.

The plot is told through sharp dialogues and stuffed with colorful expressions that, though in a less orthodox way, succeed in engaging the player by tearing up some laughter in more than one occasion. Once sailed from the Costa dei Granchi there will be no embarrassment on the choice of destination: there are actually seven other islands literally packed with quests to solve and places to explore, as well as obviously dozens of enemies to put on the rug. The elements in common with the first two titles are numerous, although it seems that with the Titan Lords the programmers wanted to press the reset button (not by chance the choice of introducing a new hero marries this philosophy), while retaining some characteristic features of the first chapter (such as the need to join one of the three game factions) and from the other how good was praised (such as the pirate setting and irreverent plot) of the unfortunate Dark Waters. As mentioned, during the game you need to embrace one of the three guilds that dominate the seafront: that of the wizards, the guardians, and the demons hunters. Each of these brings in gifts a series of exclusive skills and armor that help shape a character in one direction rather than another, but one's choice does not inhibit access to secondary missions linked to what was decided to discard.

The Caribbean islands of Risen 3 are undoubtedly fascinating and characterized by truly enchanting views: it deserves to be commended for the creativity of the graphics that have been able to exploit a common basic setting to create very different locations among themselves. There are also ruins, caves, mines, castles and dungeons of all kinds - inevitable scenarios in every role play that you respect; however, designers have long preferred the exteriors, since very rarely can they be embedded in some structure. The map size is generous, and to explore the totality of the maps you can take several hours.

Fortunately, there are gimmicks that avoid tedious piles from one side to the other: in fact, you can turn into fast parrots or use teleportal portals (which must be pre-activated with special stones) to quickly reach key locations if, at least in the initial battles, we will have to squander and not least. The protagonist can run for short stretches before exhausting an invisible energy reserve; unlike the past can also climb and swim. The interaction with the environment is considerable, and there will be as a tradition a plethora of plants to be harvested, minerals to be extracted and burglares to be buried. NPCs are mainly located in the two or three inhabited centers that characterize each island, and with almost every one of them one can talk; there will also be characters scattered along the paths ready to provide us secondary missions. Usually the key figures for advancing in the main story are a couple: they will give us the quests needed to continue the adventure, but the player can safely avoid taking them into consideration right away, thus promoting the hero's development. The nature of the missions is quite varied, though some of them tend to look like a little: a widely forgiving defect considering it enormous. To give an idea to those who read is enough to know that after a dozen hours of play, the writer had completed forty sidequest scattered between two of the eight Risen Islands 3, yet without having yet decided which faction to deploy. There are also little puzzles to be solved that from time to time break the adventurer's routine.

The combat system is part of the long tradition of the German developer and is always characterized by a strong action component and above all by the need to orchestrate with the right rhythm the sequence of parades, dodges and attacks, although in Titan Lords the rhythms have been rendered a little less frantic and confusing. The commands are basic: the left mouse click allows you to spin a more or less powerful slider depending on how much you hold down the button; with the right the parades are made while with a double press of the directional keys you execute a escape hatch. The ability to combine the scattered "read" concatenating them to three consecutive hits of increasing power, and alternating white-collar attacks with those of guns and spells makes the fights very technical.

Of course, those who prefer can also use a firearm as a main offensive tool: in this case the recharge times have been replaced by a circular counter that fills up faster as much as the character level is. Particularly in the initial stages, there is a noticeable deacrony between the mouse click and the realization of the on-screen action: this lag lags on, however, with the rise of the character level without ever disappearing altogether. This is a very precise choice that forces the player to study carefully, even in the most advanced stages of the adventure, the opponents' movements to be able to circumvent them. Against some enemies, for example, the parades will be virtually useless, against the others, the mighty hits (which seem to be a legacy of the "illegitimate" Arcane heir) will be ineffective. In the Piranha Bytes combat system, however, there seems to be a slight failure: the evading goblin is a gimmick that always lets you escape the attacks, and even if it was hit during a rotation, there would be no effect on the protagonist's health . Lacking a bar of "stamina" that prevents unlimited use is evident that this unhappy choice leads to the abuse of the famous "bite-and-run" tactics: an enemy is struck, you go away with a reversal and return to hit.

In essence, the most challenging battles take place when surrounded by three or more opponents: in these weighs the absence of a block of view on a single rival, with the result that you are often and willingly to leave an enemy alive which is just a shot to fall over to focus on one whose health bar is full. Fortunately, even in Risen 3, it is possible, if not indispensable, to be accompanied by a follower, controlled completely and completely by the CPU, which ends up being used as a bait to escape the attentions of the enemies. Compriments, however, are not endowed with unlimited health and can be temporarily put to the carpet (but after the clashes they will regain knowledge). Artificial intelligence of the allies is one of Aichi's heels of Piranha Bytes production: in fact it happens too often that they remain packed without running into the player's help. Things go a bit better with the enemies, represented for the most part by monsters belonging to the animal world, from which no overpowered tactics are expected. It is also worth mentioning the return of magic: spells are initially accessible through parchments that run out once the magic has been evoked, but it is possible to make them permanent after they have gotten together with a guild. As a control system we used the stainless mouse / keyboard combination, although it was also possible to choose the joypad that remains our way of seeing, especially in view of the precariousness of the camera.

From the technical point of view, the engine used is the latest evolution of the Genome Engine, which had debuted with little to say the least in 2006: it was Gothic 3's heart. The years have risen on the ranks and, despite the praiseworthy attempts, , to solve historical faults, the general impact certainly does not cry to the miracle. Of course, in comparison with Risen 2, the new episode wins with a considerable margin, mainly due to the greater depth of the visual field and the optimization of the lighting system, which on more than one occasion gives breathtaking views.

However, some gaps jump to the eye, and even the less mischievous user understands that he is not in the face of a so-called "next-gen" title. In particular, there is a lack of polygons that could have benefited the level of detail of the world and above all the characters that, while more natural than the past, do not completely mask the slightly bulky movements. There are also some annoying bad-clipping effects that sometimes fauna materialize on the screen just a few feet away from the player. In closed environments (and during swimmers), cases where you are stranded between walls or stones are not so rare, forcing you into the inevitable reboot. The textures have been slightly up-to-date and they perform their work as much as possible: commendable the designer's ability to use what they had available to recreate truly suggestive and pleasing environments to explore, despite the fact that the whole production lends a sense of "fake" due to the limitations just described above. The boat anchored at the port of Taranis is the most striking example of it: despite the wave motion of the sea, the boat remains perfectly motionless.

Optimization is more evident when comparing the requirements of the PC version (the one tested) with those of Dark Waters that, despite the many enhancements, remained virtually unchanged over two years ago. We can therefore provide maximum detail in FullHD to system owners equipped with a Radeon R9 280 or GeForce GTX 760. With the older sister and an Intel Core i7-3770 processor we managed to get a stable frame rate abundantly higher than 70 frames per second: the computer platform to which the newborn of the German house is designed is therefore technically very wide. What is not disappointing is the soundtrack, a historic point in the productions of the Essen studio. Good English dialogues, with dubbing fans who often fall into the side, despite some inevitable fall of style from time to time. Italian subtitles are quite convincing, although they do not always reflect the literal translation of speech. Realistic sound effects that use a good dimensional positioning. Risen 3´s permanence on hard drives is estimated around 50 hours of gameplay: this is the time it takes for programmers to complete most missions. This is a fact that we feel unmanageable, considering our personal experience.

In conclusion, a title that, while failing to reach the splendor of the early Gothic, returns with conviction to RPG veterans who will know, on the one hand, to close one eye on some Marx defects and to appreciate the visible efforts of programmers; unfortunately, though, some overly retro-playing mechanics and a cosmetics that let go of a lot of wrinkles, along with the lack of support for the latest consoles, could exclude them from a younger audience and accustomed to graphic wonders.

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Good
  • Definitely generous maps
  • Exaggerated number of missions
  • High customization of the protagonist
Bad
  • Lazy and sometimes frustrating combat system
  • Bad clipping and other small technical problems continue to spike
  • Graphic layout somewhat dated
7.7
Good
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 8
Audio - 9

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