Risen 2 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Martina Osztovits), 05/08/2012

Dark Waters. The Gothic creator Piranha Bytes has turned to a medieval fantasy world in its recent pirate RPG Risen 2. Despite partly outdated technology, the title creates a very special atmosphere. We test which graphics card is required for optimum visual quality in this review.

Artwork (Deep Silver)

Titles from Piranha Bytes are not only characterized by their unique design, but also by their rough atmosphere and their spicy, congenial dialogues. Its first action RPG game, Gothic, found its way to the heart of many gamers when the PC title was released more than ten years ago. Unfortunately, the game's sequel and its addon The Night of the Raven was met with less fanfare and suffered from serious problems.

After the extremely buggy Gothic 3, Piranha Bytes parted with its publishers and sparked fear into many fans about the future of the German game developer. Luckily, the developer found a new home with publisher Deep Silver and released  Risen in 2009 to generally positive reviews despite its relatively low PC requirements. In this review, we take a look at how the latest notebook graphics cards hold up against the sequel, Risen 2.

Description

...and a bottle of rum
...and a bottle of rum

It has been more than two and a half years since the original, but the developer has showcased some exciting changes and new technology in Risen 2 with pirates and natives arming pistols and guns instead of simple soldiers and bandits with crossbows and arrows.

The changes may seen huge at first, but it quickly becomes obvious that the sequel has stayed true to the original once you actually start playing Risen 2. Expect no shortage of NPCs with gruff voices and even silly AI at times, all in a rich world teeming with detail and inspirations from its predecessor. While we've only gone through about four hours into the game, we give our initial impressions below and our experience so far under multiple GPUs and graphical settings.

Strengths

One of the biggest strengths of Risen 2 lies in its fantastic atmosphere. Whether you choose to we walk along the beach or through the jungle or visit a village, you will immediately notice that every scenery has been meticulously developed with passion. While you'll face disorientation after a few minutes in some titles, Piranha Bytes manages to design every detail to be easy on the eyes. A small cave here, a hidden chest there - there is always something to explore. In other words: It's always worth leaving the main path.

In general, scenery and vegetation along with the local fauna and flora all look impressive. The in-game villages have also received a lot of attention including creases and marks on clothing and fish in the background (see below) and other small additions that really liven up the setting. We don't really mind that interactions with the doodads are limited, especially when the coming of dawn or dusk brings about some of the best play on colors we've seen in a game. In terms of atmosphere, the Pirahna Bytes title is definitely on par with Skyrim or The Witcher 2.

The soundtrack deserves some praise, too. Similar to its predecessor, the very pleasant and never obtrusive background music matches the scenery and are charming as well. Although some effects have been rehashed from the original, they have been enhanced with new facets in order to match the pirate theme. Voice synchronization is also convincing as in-game models do an excellent job on both the German and English language settings. 

How about the handling and gameplay? Game control has not been one of Pirahna Bytes biggest strengths in the past. The implementation of the inventory, for example, was terrible in Gothic I and II. Fortunately in Risen 2, the inventory functionality has now been reasonably partitioned into well structured  menus. A horizontal bar allows changing between ship logs, sea charts, inventory items and the character menu with further subcategories depending on the focused windows. User-friendliness and complexity seem well balanced.

If you do not want to walk around all the time, you can use the quick navigation tool to instantly teleport to key locations that have been previously explored. Nevertheless, the overall control and UI are not exactly perfect.

A dark perspective.
A dark perspective.
Patty, the perky daughter of captain Steelbeard
Patty, the perky daughter of captain Steelbeard
A perfect gentleman: The lady has to cook straight away
A perfect gentleman: The lady has to cook straight away

Weaknesses

If you run through the game world and get in contact with objects, it becomes obvious that motion is not flawless. As the collision detection is not perfect, you'll sometimes get stuck or step through otherwise solid objects. Animals and opponents sometimes suffer from coordination problems and run in circles or take unintuitive paths. This is likely due to the rather poor AI of the series, not to mention the once again ridiculous jump and fall animations of our hero.

As a result, the animations are no longer up-to-date and cannot compete with the current batch of action RPG titles. People move clumsily and dollishly and their facial expressions are hardly recognizable. Many titles are much better in this aspect. Risen 2 is also outdated in terms of polygon sets and texture quality. Close objects often look edgy and surfaces are partly blurred. In addition, the implementation on background objects is not flawless:  objects pop up, quality changes are visible and textures often flicker.

However, our main critique is the strange fighting system. Piranha Bytes have always had problems here, but at least the predecessor had a fighting system with a few highlights. Risen 2, though, is a step backwards. While fights with human opponents work somewhat decently as you can engage in some strategy and tricks, fights with animals can more often than not be won simply by repetitive clicking. This is mostly due to the fact that animals are unable to block most attacks, meaning you'll end up beating the poor things into a coma most of the time. The overall gameplay experience isn't as bad as Gothic 3, but we feel that certain enemies should have been made more challenging.

The story of Risen 2 is entrenching. Although it never reaches the level of  something like Mass Effect 3, it motivates enough to keep the player playing. The same is true for the quests: passable, but not earth-shattering.

We think that Risen 2 is a successful sequel that Gothic fans can enjoy. For better or worse, the sequel inherits many of the designs, virtues and concepts that developer Pirahna Bytes is best known for.

A voyage is fun.
A voyage is fun.
What a hero: no name, no shirt
What a hero: no name, no shirt
Shall we tolerate slave work?
Shall we tolerate slave work?

Benchmark

Depending on the environment, the frame rate can fluctuate quite noticeably. Locations with sparse vegetation (like the beach) often run significantly smoother than when in the woods or in inhabited settlements simply due to the increase complexity of nearby objects and items.

To ensure that the title runs decent in every situation, we choose a demanding scene: the island of Takarigua where the hero finds himself following the tutorial. See our following video for the complete benchmarked scene. The path leads through a settlement, which we walk across straight away. Afterwards, we climb up a small hill with a sort of prison on the peak. As soon as we are in front of guard Carter, we stop recording with the FRAPS tool.

During this scene, the recorded values are about 10-20 FPS lower than the otherwise usual average frame rate. As a result, you can generally still play smoothly even with only 20-25 fps in our benchmark scene. However, we still suggest consistent frame rates of above 30 per second for an optimum gaming experience.

Settings

Separate Menu for resolution, refresh rate and VSync
Separate Menu for resolution, refresh rate and VSync

A lot can be configured in the options menu. In "Video", you can not only set the resolution, but also the refresh rate and VSync to prohibit line shifting. Further options are available under "Graphics", for example antialiasing and two- to 16-fold anisotropic filtering to sharpen up distant textures.

With that said, it's too bad that there are no global detail setting options. As a result, every option has to be set manually to low, medium, high or ultra. On the bright side, the graphics settings can be changed even while in-game for on-the-fly tweaking. The following screenshots depict our settings.

Ultra Setting: 1920 x 1080, Ultra, AA on, 8x AF
Ultra Setting: 1920 x 1080, Ultra, AA on, 8x AF
High Setting: 1366 x 768, High, AA on, 4x AF
High Setting: 1366 x 768, High, AA on, 4x AF
Medium Setting: 1366 x 768, Medium, AA & AF off
Medium Setting: 1366 x 768, Medium, AA & AF off
Low Setting: 1024 x 768, Low, AA & AF off
Low Setting: 1024 x 768, Low, AA & AF off

The different graphics options have a significant impact not only on the shading and the texture quality, but also on distance and vegetation, both of which suffer tremendously at low or medium details. Grass, for example is only sparsely drawn or not at all and can take away a lot of the game's visual appeal. Distant objects will also lack contour and details. In short: The title is far more impressive in high or very high details settings. 

If you reduce settings...
If you reduce settings...
...not only vegetation is reduced...
...not only vegetation is reduced...
...but also the acuity.
...but also the acuity.
The picture looks badly blurred at low details.
The picture looks badly blurred at low details.
Depending on the setting ...
Depending on the setting ...
...the level of fading-out...
...the level of fading-out...
...the quality of shades...
...the quality of shades...
...and the polygon number of distant objects differ.
...and the polygon number of distant objects differ.

Results

In order to enjoy Risen 2 on a notebook at a decent graphical quality, the model should feature an upper mid-range graphics card. Entry-level graphics cards like the HD Graphics 4000 can only adequately in low graphics options. Popular graphics cards with excellent price-performance ratios like the GeForce GT 630M are sufficient for medium details at most.

Those who wish to play smoothly in 1600 x 900 pixels and on high details will require a high-end graphics card (e.g., GeForce GTX 560M). Only high-end models on par with the Radeon HD 6990M can do 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) and maximum details.

Benchmark-Tabelle Risen 2: Dark Waters

Verdict

Risen 2 may not be the perfect example of an action RPG, but its existing scenarios and gameplay are unique enough that users should give the title a try. We feel that the atmosphere especially is top tier and somewhat compensates for the weaknesses. Just keep in mind, however, that Risen 2 can only live up to its full potential on a powerful multimedia or gaming notebook.

Test Systems

Most of the results stem from laptops from Schenker-Notebooks (mysn.de). Many thanks for supporting us!

  • Schenker XMG P501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GTX 560M, GTX 580M, Radeon HD 6970M & HD 6990M, 8 GB RAM)
  • Schenker XMG A501 (Core i7-2630QM, HD Graphics 3000 & GeForce GT 555M, 8 GB RAM)
  • Schenker Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M, 4 GB RAM)

 

 

From left to right: Schenker XMG A501, Xesia M501 & XMG P501
From left to right: Schenker XMG A501, Xesia M501 & XMG P501

The other benchmarks stem from the following computers:

  • One M73-2O (Core i7-3720QM, HD Graphics 4000 & GeForce GT 650M GDDR5, 8 GB RAM)
  • Acer TravelMate 7740G (Core i5-430M, Radeon HD 5650M, 4 GB RAM)

Except from the Xesia M501 (ForceWare 296.17) and the One M73-2O (ForceWare 295.93) GPU driver version ForceWare 296.10 or Catalyst 12.4 were used.

Further graphics benchmarks are available in the following, continuously updated list:

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Risen 2: Dark Waters
 Risen 2: Dark Waters (2012)
low
1024x768
Low / off
med.
1366x768
Medium / off
high
1366x768
High / on
4xAF on AA
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra / on
8xAF on AA
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
112.1
88
82.1
 5AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
113.3
89.8
71.8
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
101.7
80.6
70.4
 7AMD Radeon HD 7970M Crossfire
103.9
80.6
43.2
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
95
99
78
67
 14AMD Radeon HD 7970
98.4
106.2
85
63.7
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
89.8
96.2
76.9
53.2
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
109.4
114.2
91.4
53.73
 24AMD Radeon HD 7870
97
106.4
83.5
48.8
 27AMD Radeon HD 8970M
99.3
100.8
82.1
41.72
 31NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
93.2
96.3
75.12
41.43
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
101.3
103.2
85.3
46.4
 34AMD Radeon HD 7970M
94.2
101.6
80
42.33
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
92.3
99.6
77.9
46.1
 40NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
107.4
90.4
71.1
35.6
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
82
64.7
31.6
 50NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
84
66.9
39.1
 54AMD Radeon HD 6870
35
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
117
96
74
35
Pos      Model                                     Risen 2: Dark Waters
lowmed.highultra
 56NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
93.2
63.82
49.93
24.33
 61ATI Radeon HD 5850
113.6
95.3
72.2
34.1
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
92
75
60
30
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M
91.1
72.7
61.3
29.1
 64AMD Radeon HD 6990M
98
78.7
59.1
27.9
 65AMD Radeon HD 7770
97.1
69.8
51.7
24.7
 66NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
95.7
76.7
61.2
29.8
 74NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
88.1
61.4
48
23.4
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
48.5
23.7
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
92
60
47.83
22.73
 80AMD Radeon HD 6970M
95.1
72.2
52.9
24.3
 82AMD Radeon HD 8870M
60
55.7
40.6
20.5
 96NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
78.12
53.652
39.93
18.152
 101AMD Radeon HD 8790M
70
46
31
15
 107NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
54.9
37.2
29.2
14.4
 108NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
64.7
43.63
34.25
16.24
 109NVIDIA GeForce 840M
42.2
28
22.4
 111NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
54.5
36.3
28.5
13.8
 113NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M
69.9
45.6
37.9
17.5
 118NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
38.52
31.52
22.52
10.52
Pos      Model                                     Risen 2: Dark Waters
lowmed.highultra
 120NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
73
49
39
18
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
37
24
18.7
 136NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
52
32
25
12
 138*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
50.32
34.82
29.62
12.4
 140AMD Radeon HD 8750M
44.8
30.3
23
11.2
 147NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
514
31.354
25.854
12.254
 151AMD Radeon HD 7730M
49
31
23
12
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE
39.1
25.1
20.3
10.3
 175AMD Radeon HD 8730M
48
38
22
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M
41.6
28.1
22.6
10.6
 192AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
27.8
18.4
 194AMD Radeon HD 7660G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
30
 195AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
23.2
15.8
12.5
 219AMD Radeon HD 7520G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
25.9
23.9
17.6
7.7
 220AMD Radeon HD 7670M
36.5
24
18
8.3
 221NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
34.352
22.352
17.62
8.552
 226NVIDIA GeForce 820M
30.6
20.7
15.9
 228NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
24.4
16.7
13.9
 234AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
10.3
14.4
11.9
 237AMD Radeon HD 8550M
10
17
13.1
Pos      Model                                     Risen 2: Dark Waters
lowmed.highultra
 242Intel HD Graphics 4600
14.852
18.1
 245NVIDIA NVS 5400M
36
24
19
9
 247AMD Radeon HD 7660G
31.5
21.2
17
8.5
 259AMD Radeon HD 6630M
33
21
16
8
 260AMD Radeon HD 7650M
37.3
23.2
17.2
8.7
 265ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
32.2
21.5
16.2
7.3
 280Intel HD Graphics 4400
13.4
9.8
 283AMD Radeon HD 7550M
21.7
14.6
11.2
 317Intel HD Graphics 4000
255
14.94
11.44
5.952
 323AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
28.3
15.6
10.9
4.7
 330AMD Radeon HD 8450G
11.5
11.2
 335NVIDIA GeForce GT 520MX
20.8
14
10.8
 336AMD Radeon HD 7520G
16.72
16.4
11.7
 346AMD Radeon HD 8330
13.8
9.1
 368AMD Radeon HD 7420G
16
10
8
 371Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
12.5
 408Intel HD Graphics 3000
16.952
11.62
8.552
 411NVIDIA GeForce G210M
12.6
 466*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
9.92
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

Further benchmarks and graphics cards are available in our article Computer games on Laptop Graphics cards.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Risen 2 Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-05- 8 (Update: 2013-06- 6)