Gothic 3 - PC - Review
Where to begin ... Well for starters, this is what single player RPGs should be about (and I will get into detail about this below). Yes, I know that online RPGs are very popular, but if Morrowind has taught us anything, it's that the single-player RPG is alive and kicking. Yes, Gothic 3 is here and in the hands of a reviewer who has played the first two installments. More importantly, you do not have to have played the first two (it is third in a series), but each game stands on it's own and does a good job of making you understand specific events that have happened in your past. Yes, your past; you play the unknown hero who has single handedly changed the course of the land without fully understanding it's ramifications. So let's just pick up here. In the past two games the humans have been at war with the orcs; yes, lots of things happened in those two games, but I don't have the room to explain everything. So know now that the war is over, because the Orcs won. You arrive in the land of Myrtana having just kicked a bunch of butt in Gothic II on the isle of Khorinis, only to discover Orcs walking around freely with humans, and the humans don't care. Because they are all now slaves, so the choice is yours as it would seem, do you side with the human resistance and drive the Orcs out, or do you become an Orc sympathizer and betray the humans? All is not what it seems because there are bad humans and good Orcs. Let the adventuring begin.
All right, first things first - Gothic 3 needs a patch, and thankfully there is one to be found on the Web, go to google.com and look up Gothic 3 patch you'll find it soon enough. The patch does not fix all the technical issues that the game is having at this point, but it does help. What also helps is having a seriously beefy computer. It recommends a 3.0 or higher Pentium or a 4000 or better AMD with 1 Gig of RAM and a 128-MB graphics card. In reality, you need a Intel Core Duo and two gigs of RAM with a 256 or 512 graphics card. The holidays are coming, time to ask for what you really want, hehe. But seriously, the game does benefit from a really monster rig.
Now let's talk about why...
"3900 square feet, five bedrooms, a steal at the price if you don't mind the nightly attacks by orcs..."
First off Gothic 3 is played very similarly to it's prequels, a third-person perspective with you running around hacking at baddies and trying to inventory everything that isn't nailed down. Now you are going to want to play with the video settings, as the framerate does become a bit of a nuisance what with you skipping around and freezing up from time to time. My first test machine was an AMD 2800 1gig, 256mb, and I could play the game if I dialed down most of the graphical settings. Interestingly enough, when I did install it on the big one (P4 3.2, 2gig, 512), there were still some visual hiccups that even the patch did not clean up. So, even with a fairly tough rig, I realized that the game still needs a patch (that hasn't been made yet). Regardless, the game - when you do hit a smooth stride (yes it does happen) - is quite easy to control, the game can pretty much be controlled by using the mouse, the arrow keys and the "I" keyboard button. Pressing "I" opens an inventory system that is the easiest of the series, you can examine found items, review quest logs and distribute skill points. The controls themselves during action are easy if not plain, clicking the left mouse button makes our man hack with his weapon, improve the right skills, and you will be dual wielding swords, improve other skills and other buttons become necessary, as magic starts to become a much more useful asset. In fact, by the time you are done with your first good gaming session, you should be using weapons and magic. A good balance given you pretty much run the show all yourself; sure, there are times when allies fight along side of you, but plan on getting your hands bloody by yourself for the most part.
Sheathing your sword allows you to speak with darn near every character you run across; some may only have one or two canned responses, but often enough, you can engage in a conversation where you can select from a set of pre-made responses. Select the right ones and you may make an ally and get new quests to go on. Tick off the wrong one and you could end up in a fight or worse, unable to obtain information crucial to your quest(s). And so, this is the meat and potatoes of the game, speak to people, gain quests, speak to more people to help you on your quest, but they will only help you if you do something for them, and so on and so forth. This is the gold standard for pretty much any RPG, so you can expect some of the same here, and this translates into learning the new skills that are found. Want to become a better hunter (and therefore better with ranged weapons)? Then ask for help from the local hunter, he'll send you on a quest to kill the wolves that have been thinning the game. Want to learn fire magic? Then bring the fire mage some raw material to work with, oh and if you stumble across a fire chalice (I.E. very important artifact sure to not be laying around) then bring that to him as well. What I am saying is, very quickly in this game you can go from having two missions to 15 in like 12 minutes.
"Forest union, local 278."
Now the game does have voice work to go along with all the speaking you will do; it's a bit strained and emphasis on some phrases and words doesn't seem to really match the hand gestures all these characters seem to have. It's not horrible mind you, it's just that it isn't great either, it's very average, with occasional glimpses of unintentional humor. It should also be noted that I didn't hear what I would consider enough noises from the creatures you do battle with. Wolves have a low snort, other strange creatures seem to barely make any noise, it's all very under effected as far as I am concerned. The clang of weapons and battle was also just kind of average, but before you write off the audio completely, Gothic 3 has a really good score to go along with the game. It's a full sounding, very epically scored arrangement that just by listening to it makes you think of high adventure and incredible deeds. In short, it pumps me up to play and pulls what would be an average sounding game into a comfortable realm.
The graphics, which I have spoken about already, are a mixed bag; the stuttering that occurs while running around is simply inexcusable when you are running it on a machine that is more powerful than their recommended system requirements. Enemies seem to be able to run through solid walls in some situations and you as the player can get caught up what appears to be small insignificant items, like blades of grass or twigs. Yes, there are some issues with how the game looks in some situations, and yes I fully expect some more patches to come out but I cannot review what may be, I have to review what is. However, when things start going right, Gothic 3 is a decent-looking game, and one of the few RPGs that allows you to see far into the distance. Running around the land of Mytana, you can see cabins in the distance, giant creatures stomping across the landscape, packs of wolves sleeping on the side of a hill, there is tons of places to go and even more things to find. In fact, the exploration factor of this game is easily one of the game's most defining qualities. In fact running across the countryside, you could easily stumble across a pile of disheveled wood, upon closer inspection there may be a chest hidden in the thicket. Upon opening a really great item could be found, it's this sort of thing that I enjoy about Gothic 3, some things are just so random, it's great.
And speaking of random, since this is a real time RPG, you can usually spot a monster before it sees you and choose whether or not you want to attack. Giant creatures will usually be avoided until you become powerful enough to engage. The map, when accessed, will allow you to see important places in Myrtana, and clicking on these places will also pull up what quests you have taken for that area. Like I said above, this game is all about the quests, and you can easily get a ton of them very quickly. It's clear that you cannot complete every quest in this game, because as you play, you will gain reputation amongst certain factions. Doing quests for some groups will have you fall out of favor with others, you can try and walk the fence and do quests for opposing forces, but the game ultimately makes you choose one way or the other - no playing Sweden in this game the whole way through.
"Yes, this armor is as heavy as it looks."
Defeating creatures and completing quests will gain you experience points, which in turn can be converted over to skill points. They are the same typical skills that games of this type all have so there is nothing unexpected here, what was nice though, is when you find new weapons or items, it is clearly shown whether or not you possess the adequate skill to wield it. You can hold on to it until you improve enough, or you can sell it to one of the many traders that are all over the game for gold. In fact, I would like to thank the developers for coming up with a simple yet effective trading system. Nothing worse then an overblown trading system.
The game is rated T for teens, and I think it should be noted that there is quite a bit of blood and violence, fighting against humans will result in you winning without making a final killing blow, you can choose to execute that final blow, but chances are you won't make any friends by doing so. Of course, there are some instances where it is completely necessary. When it comes to fighting monsters, this feature simply does not exist. Apparently in the middle ages you can kill wolves to the point of extinction and no one will give a crap, but kill the wrong human even if you are defending yourself, then all sorts of problems could come your way. The game possess some complications that others do not.
|Review Scoring Details for Gothic 3|
I would have liked to have seen more variance in the fighting moves that you have, but things get better as it moves along and the game does allow for some creative combat situations. Navigating the inventory and other character stats is easy and effective. Fighting multiple enemies is still one on one as other baddies will wait in the wings for their turn; could have done without that.
For everything that is good about the game there is an average or less than average answer to it. Characters skip around, people get caught up on objects big and small. Monsters look pretty good, but I think the game could have benefited from some more development. Yes, there is a patch, but we need more to smooth things out.
The voice work is average, the monsters are uncommonly quiet, I never got the sound effects to really pump out the action like I would have wanted, but, the very gothic (no pun intended) musical score is spot on and therefore rescues the game from audio collapse.
This is not a game for the rookie RPG player; know that you could potentially play this game for more than 75 hours. There is a ton of quests that split off from the main core quest, and unlimited exploration.
The fact that you can play this game (character wise) so many different ways means you can play it several times and go off in completely new directions. Do you fight for the orcs? Do you fight for the humans? Or do you do your own thing and try making a mess of pretty much everybody else. There is so many things you can do; I would say it's like Morrowind, but this series has always operated this way, so I'd say that Morrowind is like Gothic.
Look, this game is not without it's flaws, but it is ambitious and when things are running smoothly, a real treat to play. Players who enjoy RPGs will enjoy the dickens out of this title, but they need to be sure they have a really awesome system to run it on, and all the patches that go with it.