Risen 3: Titan Lords was a decidedly mediocre RPG upon its initial release last year on the PS3, and while this might well be the Enhanced Edition of the same game, there is no getting around the fact that it remains an uncompromisingly mediocre RPG 12 months later on the PS4.
It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but with little added beyond a new coat of paint and a handful of additional DLC missions, Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition remains a steadfastly second-tier RPG. If anything, thanks to the subsequent releases of EA’s excellent, Dragon Age: Inquistion and the even better, Witcher 3 from CD Projekt RED, it could be argued that, despite the improvements, Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition actually feels like a weaker game 12 months on.
In terms of actual improvements, well, there are actually very few. Fundamentally, this is the exact same game that it was last year. The visuals have certainly been upgraded, the once terrible framerate has been improved (although it still has its moments) and the bonus DLC missions do add plenty of additional content to an already content rich game, but sadly, none of the games’ gameplay or structural issues have been addressed in any way at all. Yes, the improved framerate does make the Enhanced Edition an eminently more playable experience, but the mission design, the animations, and perhaps more importantly, the rather wonky combat, have all gone utterly untouched. You would think that an Enhanced Edition would have been a great opportunity to smooth out the originals rough edges (of which there are many), but beyond the aforementioned visual upgrade, Piranha Bytes have essentially released the same game, a game that simply can’t compete with the kind of competition available on the PS4 in 2015.
Still, despite being a somewhat visually dated affair, Risen 3: Titan Lords: Enhanced Edition somehow manages to provide its fair share of enjoyment thanks to its fantastic premise, its brilliant sense of place and its consistently engrossing atmosphere. Yes, the combat is far too reliant upon its dodge roll and there are still a number of glitches that serve to break the immersion of this otherwise all-encompassing experience, but it’s, well, it’s just rather charming. It’s not a great game. Sometimes it’s not even a good one, but it’s the kind that encourages you to not only forgive its inadequacies, but to a point, learn to live with them. All that rolling around during combat is horrible, but you get used to it, and after a while, you simply except it as part of the experience and something that has to be put up with to get to the stuff that the game does so much better. Be warned though, no amount of goodwill will get you through the truly atrocious stealth elements – they aren’t too frequent (thank God), but with clumsy controls and no sense of how well you are hidden, these sections provide the kind of low point that even the best games would struggle to recover from.
With its fantastic, pirate-inspired universe, Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition does a great job of creating a believable world that, despite its technical limitations, is brought to life by its consistently engaging art design and its host of enjoyable cast of both enemies and allies. The dialogue is almost uniformly poor, but it’s all delivered with enough cheery gusto to be deemed at least reasonably entertaining (although perhaps not in the way that Piranha Bytes intended). It’s actually that pirate theme that goes a long way towards making Risen 3: Titan Lords worth playing despite its array of issues and, along with its art direction and world building, remains a strong calling card for the series. The story too, while far from award winning stuff, is generally well told, and thanks again to its pirate-based theme, feels surprisingly unique thanks to the genre’s long running obsession with medieval fantasy.
Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition isn’t the biggest RPG on the market, but for those willing to put up with the vagueness of some its objectives, there is certainly plenty to keep you busy. The additional DLC content is largely more of the same, but it does offer up two new islands to explore and the additional content will certainly prove a welcome extra to those able to look past the technical issues and poor design choices that ultimately keep, Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition from competing with the premier RPGs released in the past few years.
And that’s the thing – there is fun to be had here, but honestly, you have to be willing to overlook some pretty major issues to get the best from this charming but undeniably mediocre RPG. The story is fun, but it’s also outrageously generic and often dragged down by characters that, while amusing, are let down by dodgy animations and consistently poor dialogue. The world itself is certainly engrossing and some of the locations actually look very good indeed, but even these lose much of their lustre thanks to the array of technical issues that ultimately create a barrier between the player and the experience. The combat too, while never short of options thanks to a seemingly never ending string of unlockable abilities and items, proves a consistently clumsy and imprecise experience due to its awkward parry system, inconsistent hit detection, and yes, all that bloody rolling around. Like its predecessors, Risen 3: Titan Lords – Enhanced Edition feels like a game whose ambition ultimately outstretches its budget, and while there is a lot to like here, there are simply too many issue, too many bugs and too many other superior RPGs available on the PS4 to make this a genuinely recommendable experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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