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Risen 2 Benchmarked

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 Despite partly outdated technology, the title creates a very special atmosphere.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.
Florian Glaser (translated by Martina Osztovits), 🇩🇪 🇫🇷
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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.

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.

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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
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
AMD Radeon HD 6990M Crossfire
AMD Radeon HD 6990M
98
78.7
59.1
27.9
AMD Radeon HD 6450M
AMD Radeon HD 6470M
AMD Radeon HD 6350M
AMD Radeon HD 6320
AMD Radeon HD 6970M
95.1
72.2
52.9
24.3
NVIDIA Quadro K1000M
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
AMD Radeon HD 6775G2
AMD Radeon HD 6545G2
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AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD FirePro W5170M
AMD Radeon HD 7520G
16.7n2
16.4
11.7
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce G 107M
NVIDIA Quadro K3000M
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400
NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 415M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 SLI (Laptop)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
101.7
80.6
70.4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Desktop)
NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
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NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800M
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AMD Radeon HD 6830M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G
AMD Radeon HD 6540G2
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
AMD Radeon HD 6290
AMD Radeon HD 6250
AMD FirePro W2100
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AMD FirePro W7170M
AMD Radeon 530
AMD Radeon HD 6740G2
AMD Radeon HD 7570M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
28.3
15.6
10.9
4.7
AMD Radeon HD 6330M
AMD FirePro W5130M
AMD Radeon 610
NVIDIA Quadro FX 350M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
93.2
96.3
75.1n2
41.4n3
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AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
AMD Radeon HD 6630M
33
21
16
8
AMD Radeon HD 6640G2
AMD Radeon HD 7310
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7690M
AMD Radeon HD 7340
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
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AMD Radeon HD 6650M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (Desktop)
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX
AMD Radeon HD 6730M
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100
NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
AMD Radeon Pro WX Vega M GL
AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
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AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
95
99
78
67
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
16
10
8
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
Intel HD Graphics 4200
AMD Radeon HD 7850M
Intel HD Graphics (Cherry Trail)
Intel HD Graphics 505
Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell)
Intel HD Graphics 5000
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
82
64.7
31.6
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 350M
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 260M
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 160M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
92
75
60
30
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
92.3
99.6
77.9
46.1
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
88.1
61.4
48
23.4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3600M
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
101.3
103.2
85.3
46.4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1000
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
AMD Radeon HD 6790
AMD Radeon HD 6570M
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
AMD Radeon HD 6870
35
AMD Radeon HD 6550D
AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD FirePro W4190M
AMD FirePro W4100
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AMD Radeon HD 6490M
AMD Radeon HD 6480G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6480G
AMD Radeon 630
AMD Radeon 620
AMD Radeon 625
AMD FirePro W4170M
AMD FirePro M6000
AMD FirePro M4100
AMD FirePro M8900
AMD FirePro M4000
AMD FirePro M5100
AMD Radeon 540X
AMD FirePro M3900
AMD Radeon HD 6970
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AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire
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AMD FirePro M6100
AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
AMD FirePro M5950
NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M
AMD Radeon HD 6755G2
AMD Radeon HD 6950M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
Intel HD Graphics 500
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NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
NVIDIA Quadro FX 770M
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon 520
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AMD Radeon HD 6515G2
AMD Radeon HD 6510G2
AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
AMD Radeon R7 370
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
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NVIDIA Quadro FX 370M
NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M
AMD Radeon HD 6720G2
AMD Radeon R7 (Carrizo)
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AMD Radeon Pro 560
AMD Radeon R7 250
AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon Pro 555
AMD Radeon HD 6750M
AMD Radeon Pro 5600M
AMD Radeon HD 6690G2
NVIDIA GeForce G 105M
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(-) * Smaller values are better. / n123 Number of benchmarks for this median value / * 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
60Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 58fps
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.
?Uncertain – 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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Florian Glaser
Editor of the original article: Florian Glaser - Managing Editor Gaming Laptops - 634 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2009
I discovered my interest in computers in my childhood, growing up with MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 in the early 1990s. I was especially fascinated with computer games, even from an early age. From Monkey Island through Lands of Lore to Doom, I tried every game I could get my hands on. I have been working for Notebookcheck since 2009 with my focus mostly being on high-performance gaming laptops.
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Florian Glaser, 2012-05- 8 (Update: 2021-05-18)