Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gothic 3

A Cult Classic.
Review By Conkersurround5

I'd like to note that I am playing and reviewing the game about 10 months after its release and with all the latest patches and updates. The game runs completely smooth and I have had none of the issues other reviewers may have experienced, most likely due to the patches that note particular fixes of that sort. The purpose of reviewing a game is to help fellow gamers decide if that particular game is right for them – if they are going to like the game. That is why I continue to contribute to this website and that is way this is always one of the resources I check when trying to make a decision on getting a game. The two words I keep coming back to when thinking about Gothic are “detail” and “immersive.” Those seem to be the theme to this game, not just in the graphics, but in the presentation, the music, the design, and gameplay.


GRAPHICS: These are some of the best graphics I've seen to date. The environments are absolutely nothing short of stunning. I think the reason they can be so good is this little trick they do. Distant landscapes are out of focus, which give the illusion they really are that far away, and it also hides the pop up. Rather than details in the environment just popping up, they seem to merely come into focus. This must have also given them the ability to go overboard with the immediate surrounding environment, whether it's a wild plain, mountainside, or tavern. I can't express in this review the amount of detail you will see. Even more impressive is that there are no load times at all (obviously to load a saved game there will be a load time); there are no zones to load, the world seamlessly expands before your eye. They do a great job of creating the illusion of being in the world of Gothic 3.


In my opinion the goal of good graphics is not to convince me the world is real but to help one to use their imagination. Bad graphics can ruin the experience, graphics that are so good no one can run them are worthless, but the graphics in Gothic 3 run smoothly and create an immerse experience.


GAMEPLAY: Any type of gamer that likes RPGs should like this game because you can make of it what you want. There is a wide world to explore, and you can go anywhere you want whenever you want, but it has a great story, yet you have to create it. I get into the game and just go where my adventuring spirit takes me. There are also many different plot paths you can go down and factions to ally with. You ally with them by earning reputation, so yes, you will have to decide what your character's morals are and what you want him to do, or not do. You can also customize you character, but not as directly as literally picking a class and unlocking skills for that class. When you gain experience and gain a level it doesn't affect any of your stats directly. Instead you get Learning Points that you can use any way you want to get different skills. All the skills have attribute or other skill prerequisites. However it's not as easy as just selecting how you want to use your LP. You have to find teachers or trainers and they have to be willing to teach you. To make them willing you may have to prove to them you are worth teaching. The nice thing about experience points in Gothic is that you can't just go into a cave and kill rats all day until you reach the next level. Nor does the game require you to find a way to level up to beat the next guy. If you do a little exploration and defend yourself, you will get exp. The major exp comes from quests and driving the story - whichever way you choose to take it. The idea is not to have to level to beat the next guy but to find a way to use the skills that you have chosen to endow you hero with, to accomplish the tasks ahead.


COMBAT: The combat is great because it's not simply DOT (damage over time) like many of the RPGs and MMORPGs. Do you remember Drakan for PS2? The fighting style kind of reminds me of that (a great game by the way). It's yet another huge aspect that brings a ton of realism into the game to immerse you in Gothic 3. You use strikes, parrys, and moves you've learned with your weapon by various clicks or combination of clicks with the mouse and keyboard. It's easy and user friendly yet interesting and fun. You can use your weapon or a shield to parry, and you need to use a combination of both, as well and movement, to defeat your opponents. It's not real time turn based like NWN, but you can't just click on a potion or some food in your quick-bar and get health. You character will need to eat or drink it which obviously leaves you open for attack. There is also no resting to recoup your health. This adds a lot of strategy to the game that you would be hard pressed to find in the genre. You can sleep if you find a bed you can use, but you can't just run out of a cave and rest. You can eat to regain your health though, and there is plenty of food to be gathered or hunted, so make sure you're stocked. No doubt you will be using that quick save and quick load button often before battle.


STORY: I enjoy many forms of entertainment; all offer something different. When playing a game I want a good story. I've touched on the story a little above and how it compliments the game so I'll give you a brief overview here. In Gothic 1 and 2, the King, in troubled times of impending war, decrees that all prisoners of any crime, no matter how small, get sent to this island to mine for magic ore. You, the hero, gets sent but escapes, hijacks a boat and returns home only to find his home ruled by orcs who have enslaved the humans. There are many paths from there that you can choose to take the story in any way you want. Have fun!


There are many references to the first to games and characters pop up from those games as well, it's nice for fans of the series but doesn't inhibit the playing experience of anyone new to the series. In fact, I did not play the first two Gothics, but after playing 3 I went back and did some research, checked out screenshots, and did some reading.


SOUND: The music is awesome and enhances the experience, as music should. Way too many games have repetitive boring music, but Gothic's is surely enjoyable. It compliments the game like the Superman or Star Wars themes compliment their respective movies; it just wouldn't be the same with out it. I can understand why I've seen the soundtrack on sale, however, after playing the game for unlimited hours I really doubt I'd want to listen to the music in my car. If you have an X-Fi sound card and a 5.1 setup you will enjoy the surround sound, it's very well done.


OVERALL: This game has gobs on charm. Like Mario Williams and Reggie bush - who will always be compared since Williams was drafted before Bush – Gothic will inevitably have to be compared to Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for launching about 7 months after in 2006. For every thing you can point to Oblivion and say you like better, you can also find something in Gothic 3 that you can point to that you like better. What tips the scale in Gothic's favor for me is its charm; from the box and instruction booklet to the game itself. The world just seems very consistent. I love how people are going about their business in the towns, doing what they would do based on what time of day it is. The weather patterns have a wide range of sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc. Even fog is a treat because it looks so cool. Different times of day look like their real counterparts, morning, mid day, evening, all look realistic. It also has cool sunrises and sunsets with really nice blooming effects. If there is a full moon it will be a little brighter at night, compared to a cloudy night sky with hardly any moonlight – time to get out that torch! If there was one thing I could change, I'd put in an equipment screen in the menu. There is an inventory / equipment combination screen (that is actually more auto-organized than any I have seen, kudos to Piranha Bytes) and the equipment that is equipped is highlighted. It doesn't have quite the armor options as Oblivion, and no character creation. This is all worked in as part of its charm however, but this is the only place it lost a point.


What it comes down to is if this game is what you are looking for. This game will immerse you in the world of Gothic 3 and it is FUN. It's really too bad this launched in the wake of Oblivion because this is one of the best games I've played in many years, and I feel it has gotten a little overlooked. It may have a larger following in Europe however, where the designer is located. If you have agreed with or liked my other reviews then believe me when I say that I love this game and you will too. Go out and get it, you will not be disappointed with the purchase.


NAME: GOTHIC 3
SYSTEM: PC 

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