1. Things are a bit more... colorful in R3, yeah.
2. Yes, you aren't the Hero of Faranga anymore, instead being a/the son of Steelbeard and Patty's half-brother.
3. As someone who has played and finished the game with both voiceovers, the German one is much better IMO. Try that one with English subtitles if possible.
4. Yes, the ghost of Crow is back, but he doesn't have a very extensive presence in the game and the battle with him is a fairly late-game thing (apart from the tutorial nightmare, obviously).
And a few tips:
- alchemy is much more useful than in R2. You can find dozens of permanent herbs and the potion bonuses go from +2 (herb) to +5 (potion). You can easily 105 (100 + Legendary Item) all of your stats. Don't train any of your skills over ~55-65.
- the +10% XP Legendary Item is on Fog Island, you might want to visit that one ASAP (even though I managed to 105 my build even without finding it early).
- as always, explore everything. There is a lot of stuff hidden around in seemingly inaccessible places. Use the parrot spell often.
Strange that they would use a new nameless hero - it leaves so many holes like, how did he lose his Captaincy, where did he go, how did this new heir to Steelbeard show up, etc. Is the old one even mentioned, have a cameo appearance, etc?
So, I take it that there's nothing like the scholar (I think that is what it was called) ring that one had at the get go in R2? I thought that was a good idea - made you choose extra XPs or other bonuses. Anyway. I went through the dream and landed on the first island then saved - it was getting late! :) I'll be digging in tonight. I suppose this closes the Risen story arch since PB has another title out (or atleast I think they do)? I didn't like 2 as much as 1 but it was still a fun game.