(Deep Silver for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
You’re stranded on a desert island with no shirt on your back or shoes on your feet, armed only with a sword. As you explore this dangerous landscape with no map and no clear objective, you slowly start to get your bearing by conversing with the natives and completing quests, taking the early steps towards becoming a true pirate adventurer. This describes just a bit of the opening hours of Risen 2: Dark Waters, but it encapsulates what the game does best. The lush, foreboding environments, coupled with the amusing banter of the characters you meet around the islands, make the world of Risen 2 a place worth spending time in, which is a good thing, since that same world often tests your patience with little annoyances. Movement often has a herky-jerky feel to it, the tiny menu text is clearly more suited for a PC screen than a home theater, and combat is rarely more than a mashy means to an end. If you can tuck these faults under your eye patch and persevere, though, you’ll be rewarded with a sprawling, engaging experience that delivers on its promise of a grim pirate tale.