SET several years after the end of Risen, a bunch of fearsome Titans have laid waste to much of the known world.

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Risen 2: Dark Waters

Publisher: Deep Silver

Price: £39.99

Format: Xbox 360 (also on PS3, PC)

Age rating: 16+

SET several years after the end of Risen, a bunch of fearsome Titans have laid waste to much of the known world. The remnants of civilization have relocated to the port town of Caldera, but even this safe haven has come under attack from monstrous sea creatures.

Fortunately, rumour has it that a pirate has discovered a way to defeat the Titans. Taking on the guise of the nameless hero from the first game, you’re sent on an undercover mission to gain the trust of said pirate and his motley crew, learn his secret and save the world from impending doom.

Don’t worry if you never played the original role-playing game. Risen 2 is a sequel in name only, swapping the original’s high fantasy concept for some pirate-themed swashbuckling. Your quest to vanquish an ancient evil sends you on an island-hopping adventure, searching for some magical artefacts that will help you in the battle against Mara, a malevolent sea-dwelling Titan.

On your travels, you’ll team up with a monkey pickpocket, captain your own pirate ship, search for buried treasure, explore jungles, caves and ancient temples, battle giant crabs, use voodoo to strike fear into your adversaries, lunge, parry and riposte with the best of them and drink your own weight in grog. It’s an eclectic mix – and we’ve only really scraped the surface of what’s on offer – resulting in a role-playing game that’s a cross between Skyrim and Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Perhaps that’s too grand a comparison for this enjoyable pantomime of a game, though. For a start, your lead character comes across as a gruff Jack Sparrow wannabe, without the swagger or half-cut sense of humour. Character advancement is also problematic. Instead of a traditional levelling system, you have to spend gold and experience points to boost your stats, skills and weapon-handling abilities, but with both in short supply it takes ages to build up certain attributes. At the start of the game, even the lowliest adversary will be able to kick sand in your face, and you’ll have to grind away for hours to become proficient at swordplay.

Despite these criticisms, Risen 2 isn’t the shipwreck of a game it could have been. Although some of its quests lack imagination, it’s still bursting with swashbuckling third-person combat and exploration.

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