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Gothic 2 Gold Review
developer: Piranha Bytes
PIII 700, 256MB RAM, 2.2GB HDD, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Dec 05, 05 (released)
|» All About Gothic 2 Gold on ActionTrip|
Waiting for Gothic 3...
It takes time to get into a CRPG, particularly for players who are unfamiliar with the basics of role-playing. However, once you've mastered the art of role-playing, you'll learn to appreciate the intricacy of the whole experience. Pulling something off in an RPG requires patience and hard work... rather like in real life. That's why people enjoy playing them nowadays (MMORPGs in particular). They enjoy the ride because it is challenging all the way and each completed task is sure to bring a handsome reward (even if it only involves additional experience points).
The ruins of the once great city of Jharkendar.
Now, where did I put that chewing gum?
In the past two weeks I've been busy with the Gold Edition of Gothic 2, a revised version of Gothic 2 that also includes the long awaited English version of the game's expansion pack, entitled Night of the Raven. Rather than making an add-on in the conventional sense, the development team at Piranha Bytes decided to incorporate new monsters, quests, items as well as a whole new area, directly into the original game itself. So that means, once you start the game, you'll get a chance to encounter new characters and creatures right away. The bad news is that you begin NotR from scratch, without having to use the high-level character from the original game. Well, I for one didn't mind having to play through the entire single-player campaign again. The original game itself has plenty of replay value; plus you can join additional guilds this time around and the game now offers alternative ways to accomplish certain tasks.
The story starts off the same way as in the original (although, it looks as though they've added a new segment to the introduction sequence). A magician named Xardas has requested your presence and has asked you to aid the kingdom that's on the brink of a civil war. Throughout most of the game players get to explore Khorinis, a huge island covered with forests and mountains. Venturing deeper into the island, will eventually lead players to the Valley of Mines; another large area, with rough terrain and swamps that are swarming with Orcs and other inhospitable creatures. The king has sent an army of Paladins to protect the land from the merciless Orcs. Even though the Paladins are presently the main authority in the land, they are not favored by the local villagers and farmers. In any case, your job is to issue a warning to the Paladins that dragons are coming and that everyone is in grave danger. At first, everyone will refuse to believe a new-comer raving about dragons, so you must make an effort and find some sort of proof to back up your claims. That's the basic summary of the plot in Gothic 2. Night of the Raven kicks off as soon as your character finds out that several people from Khorinis are missing. Warning: Minor spoiler ahead! After following numerous leads, your character gets to the bottom of things and soon determines that someone is kidnapping people and turning them into slaves. Eventually, you wind up in the forgotten city of Jharkendar, an entirely new region just waiting to be discovered. You'll also be given an opportunity to join the Water Mages, a group that strives to preserve the balance between the followers of Beliar (evil) and Innos (good).
Generally, I think Piranha Bytes presented a rather unique concept with Night of the Raven. Instead of creating a completely separate chapter of the story, they simply incorporated all the new features into the original game itself. (Unique if you've never played an MMORPG in your life. -Ed) That way players receive a completely polished version of the original Gothic 2 and can experience the whole game once again, but this time with additional quests, items and characters. Also, strolling through the wide open spaces of Gothic 2 is quite enjoyable and it could take your character several hours just to get from one part of the realm to another, and the new region of Jharkendar makes the world even larger.
Traveling through the region of Khorinis, you'll notice that the inhabitants do not take kindly to strangers, so in many cases you're gonna have to work your ass off just to show you have honorable intentions. On the other hand, you can choose not to follow the rules and just be downright mean to everyone. This, naturally, doesn't create a loving image of your character.
So, it's basically a classic RPG with all the standard nitty-gritty you'd normally expect. However, the main thing about Gothic 2 Night of the Raven is that the game is harder to play than the original Gothic 2. Foes are tougher and your character is generally vulnerable to attacks. Of course, as your character progresses, he becomes less susceptible to damage, but it takes time to get to that point.
Actually, the game is very difficult at the beginning due to the somewhat clunky control mechanism and awkward combat system, which may take some getting used to. Once you get acquainted with the controls, there shouldn't be too much trouble. The overall difficulty and rather steep learning curve are the biggest drawbacks of Gothic 2 Night of the Raven that could easily ward off some gamers. My advice is that you stick with it, because once you get used to the gameplay mechanics, NotR becomes highly addictive and enjoyable.
Coupled with the expansion pack, Gothic 2 is an extremely lengthy game with huge areas you can explore Morrowind-style. The only question is how much time do you have on your hands and are you willing to sacrifice just about everything else in life.
Apart from having a whole bunch of new monsters to fight against, players are now welcome to use certain items in Night of the Raven that make character development faster and easier. Stone tablets, for instance, are very handy and can help your character advance his abilities without having to waste precious experience points. As fate would have it, these unique stone tables are scattered throughout the land of Khorinis, Jharkendar and the Valley of Mines, but they are usually hard to come by and are often heavily guarded by one monstrosity or another. Some stone tablets cannot be used for skill upgrades. They provide information regarding the history of an ancient civilization that once occupied the city of Jharkendar. Then again, if the old stone tables are brought to Vatras, one of the Water Mages in town, you can receive experience points in return. By the way, Gothic 2 features a straightforward character advancement system - you accumulate experience until you reach a certain level. After that, you use the so-called learning points and distribute them to various skills. Leveling takes a lot of time, so usually you'll probably end up economizing your learning points until you attain the desired skill.
8.5 Very Good
A revised and polished version of an excellent RPG, plenty of new content, a profound RPG experience altogether;
Certain gameplay drawbacks from the original game are still present, steep learning curve, awkward controls.