review | Alex II Piranha Bytes scored well with Gothic and its sequel in the early 2000s on PC, but the third installment of the RPG series didn’t work out. Things didn’t get any better when the German developer made the switch to consoles. This was mainly because the games they made were often behind a generation on many fronts and thus looked and played outdated. to Alex This was no different and there was also the fact that the game suffered from many technical issues. As with the Risen series, despite the lukewarm reception, a new part was simply made. Perhaps in the hope that the German developer could revive the glory days of the Gothic.
Do not care
Anyway, Piranha Bytes didn’t make it too difficult in terms of story. In the first part, you play as Jax and fight a great evil on the planet Magalan to fight for ELEX, a substance that can make you more powerful. Besides fighting the enemy, you also had to get involved in struggles between different factions. Instead of coming up with something more original with the second part, the German developer chose the easiest method. They simply copied the story from the first part, only now with a different enemy and several years later.
Not what you expect
In terms of gameplay, there are no original things to be done either. The game is presented from a third person perspective and you are mainly involved in fighting and having conversations with different characters in a world where you can go wherever you want. You will be given different tasks to complete and you will also be given side quests during your adventure. You can also upgrade and upgrade your hero, of course, in order to successfully complete the most difficult tasks. So the sequel to ELEX is a fairly standard open world RPG, but this shouldn’t be a problem if the game knows how to entertain you well. Piranha Bytes does it to a certain level, but there are still some obstacles.
When you start ELEX II – version 1.03 – you won’t be too happy with what you see. Although the ultra-clear picture is at a resolution that is almost exactly 4K, the frame rate stands out in a negative way. Depending on the environment, it’s around 30-50fps when looking straight ahead and 60fps when looking at the sky or the ground. Since most of the time you’re looking directly in front of you in the game, you have to do so at a suboptimal frame rate. There is also only one graphics mode, so you are stuck in that mode. What catches the eye anyway is that there is a lot of screen tearing. Both thus create a chaotic and turbulent picture.
If you are positive and accept that screen tearing and unstable frame rate are part of the game, your attitude will be tested again. When the first fights begin, you will notice that they are tough. So attacking and defending with a mixture of ancient and modern melee weapons and archery iron doesn’t work well. Your character is slow to respond to your commands, which is a particular problem when dodging incoming attacks. Of course you have to get used to this, because after a while you know how to adapt to still have some fighting fun, but it’s far from perfect. It’s obviously the weakest part of ELEX II and that’s a shame, because that part takes such a big part of your adventure.
A bad first impression of the ELEX II in the early hours does not change either. The world itself and the main character seem rather cute, but other characters you come across sometimes look a little strange. The faces can look a bit distorted and the animations in the NPCs are quite wooden and remind us of what it was like two generations ago. The weirdest and most annoying thing happens when you start looking at a map; Then the frame rate drops a lot. If 10 frames per second is achieved, that’s a lot. Why is this considered a mystery, because it is a simple 2D map. You use this a lot, so having to use a heavily stuttered map over and over is really annoying.
Patience will be rewarded
Understandably, the above points can be a reason for some players to write off the ELEX II after a few hours. However, it is useful to give time for the game. Where you will first sit with an angry face, at some point it will slowly turn into a light smile and then take the negatives for granted. This is primarily due to the world in which the adventure takes place. There is regularly something to see in the distance that makes you curious and there are also quite a few “Easter eggs” to be found, with funny winks for games or other media. Magalan invites you to investigate and that’s pretty cool.
Gradually you will also notice that many of the missions and side quests – which are good for dozens of hours of gameplay – are mostly just a fun activity. Of course, this will mainly consist of frequent combat, but you will also need to maintain friendships with factions or, if you choose, antagonize someone. You will also have to look for people who can help you during the adventure. Anyway, you don’t constantly do the same thing and that benefits the fun of playing. There are some tasks that are a bit like filling in, for example, because you are often sent from one place to another without doing anything important, but fortunately, these are in significantly the minority.
What also makes the missions interesting is that you come into contact with different characters. As you can read before, these can sometimes seem a little strange, but they each have their own personality – sometimes funny and exaggerated. The dialogues aren’t always well-written and the voice acting isn’t strong all around, but each character’s individual identity makes up for it. The slightly shameful thing is that it is not made clear whether the (side-quest) mission is still too ambitious for the level your character is at at that moment. So you can get caught up in a mission for a while to have to take it apart again, because you’re up against an enemy that you’ll eliminate in one fell swoop.
Nothing stands in your way
What gives the game a positive turn in one fell swoop is the use of a “jet pack”. You will receive this shortly after starting your adventure. You can fly with this for a little while and that’s really perfect. If you have played more open world RPGs, you are probably familiar with the phenomenon that sometimes you have to walk around a lot to get to a certain point because there are some mountains or buildings in the way. Nine times out of ten in ELEX II this is not a problem, because the jet pack offers a solution as you overcome the obstacle in no time. Now the map of the game world is not very large, but you do not have to walk around it always at hand.
reviewed in: PlayStation 5
Also available at: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and PC.
With each new game from Piranha Bytes it is hoped that it will revive the successful Gothic era, but again this is not the case with ELEX II. However, this does not mean that this game is too bad. Basically, you are presented with a standard open-world RPG, with an unstable frame rate and brutal combat. In principle, these are not good components of a good game, but a very interesting world, cute customizations and generally funny characters encourage you to continue playing and accept the negatives. ELEX II certainly isn’t a loud flyer game, but it sure knows how to captivate.
- Very interesting world
- Lots of cute Easter eggs
- Mainly fun (side quests)
- Lots of fun and funny characters
- Frame rate is unstable
- Big screen tearing
- It is not clear how difficult the task is
- Framerate map is a play
- Battles run smoothly
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