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29.05.2011 15:07 [Risen 2] GameStar: Risen 2 Preview (Page: 4)
Talking is silver, learning costs gold.

All abilities and talents can be learnt via teachers, can be improved, and rely on five basic attributes: Close range (Blade skill, sabres and daggers), Far range (Shooting skills, pistols and rifles), Cunning (Silvertongue, dirty tricks, bomb planting, dodging, and so on), Toughness (Intimidation, immunity to swords and bullets, "booze-courage", and so on) and finally magic, which, at the present time, we can only speculate is Voodoo based.

To increase our attributes we need experience points; to learn talents, we have to pay gold. Whores can teach us Cunning skills, especially Silvertongue. We gain additional skills by obtaining legendary items. The variety of weapons, items and clothing is far more complex and broader than in Risen 1. You can even preview and compare items -- quite the progress.

Dirty but effective

Side by side with Steelbeard's pirates, we fight against a crab monster, but our blades can't harm the thing. Our weak pistol, accompanied only by standard ammunition, can only hope to scrape the outside of the beast. We study the way it fights: at a specific time point, the monster takes a small break. We press forth and swing, sending the crab reeling. It struggles with its feet in the air, open to our finishing move. It's also a matter of timing when fighting against a nasty sand spider. We can only strike when its mouth region isn't protected by its enormous tusks. Every enemy demands a special tactic.

The strong swipe belongs to another fighting technique, the dirty tricks. They serve to replace dodging and shields. We can throw sand (and later even salt) in the enemy's eyes. We can loose trained parrots on incoming enemies, which will flitter about them, creating a perfect distraction to let us land a shot or two. We can use two-handers to swipe at nearby foes, or even stab them with bayonets. Or we can aim a short kick to push the enemy away, draw our dagger and pistol, and create a lightning-fast triple combo.

These things are quite different to anything we've seen in other games, they're more diverse and dynamic: sheer fun. Should we bear stabbing weapons, we can change the direction of our strikes in mid-attack to better suit our fighting needs. The way this worked during our play-through was not perfect, but it seemed to us the best way of providing extra depth to this already impressive combat system. And if you want to become a master of any particular technique, you should carefully reflect on your decisions-- refusing or accepting orders, coaxing or slighting -- because your standing with your faction of choice hinges on them. If you want to become a marksman, then you ought not to sully your relationship with the Inquisition. The pirates will teach you the secrets of dirty tricks; the halfworld will let you unlock Cunning skills; and it's quite safe to suppose that a Voodoo teacher won't be much of a racist.

Cock-and-bull stories

For another quest, we're supposed to obtain fresh water and fish for a pirate captain who's stuck in the harbour. We can get fish from the fishermen. Thus we head out and meet a rather depressed NPC: Eddie. He and his friend Duncan had stumbled onto an odd cave. Things got risky, though, so Eddie made for the hills and abandoned his friend. Of course, he won't let us see as much as a scale off his fish until they're both back to safety.

Next, we move off to the dungeons. The one we visited during our playing session was separated into four discrete areas, all underground, all with different layouts, ambient lighting and enemies. Everything's hand-made. We did in a sand devil -- which are not particularly tough enemies, but they usually swarm you in large numbers, and that's when things get tough. We find Duncan, and the oddest thing of all -- he's not scared, not one bit. He tells us a bit about the lilylivered Eddie and his fear of the hobgoblin. Childhood superstitions, he opines disdainfully. Then comes a noise; we jerk around, and... there it is. A hobgoblin the size of a troll, with added tentacles and pincers. We put a wide berth between us and it, and start shooting like crazy, yet the monster is only minimally hurt. Duncan hightails it, shrieking -- thank you very much, Duncan, that'll cost you more than fish! Our concerted efforts, all the skills in our arsenal mixed with tireless sword slashing, and the monster is slain.

Sellers of Souls

We can improve our arsenal in Risen 2 ourselves, by becoming blacksmiths or gunsmiths. Crafting is more important than ever before. We ask: "Will there be shipwrights? Will we be able to steer ships?" The answers are elusive, but we're sure there's something in the game pertaining to that area.

High spirits emanate from the fishers' huts. Twilight falls around us, painting the sky blood-red. The jungle takes upon itself a dark mantle, and stars begin to burn. Suddenly, there are sparks in the rainforest, slowly making their way from the left, to the centre, and before long, the whole place is alive with light. It's all so romantic, luring us closer. And then we freeze. The forest is brimming with sand devils, whose radiance probably symbolises a mating ritual. And on this note we end, deeply impressed with Risen 2 and the emotions it triggered within us.

Translated by Faby
With footnotes from Foobar

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