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Gothic 3 Review
publisher: JoWooD Productions
developer: Piranha Bytes
PIV 2000, 512MB RAM, 4.6GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 20, 06 (released)
|» All About Gothic 3 on ActionTrip|
Timing is everything. The entertainment industry is probably one of the best examples of this old maxim. For example, well-timed movie classics such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars remain such a huge success simply because they were released in a time when people felt the need to immerse themselves in epic tales. (There was neither a plague nor a world war when they were released, so I say you are on crack, sir. - Ed) Their timely arrival shifted the focus away from noir movies and anti-heroes that had dominated the big screen. To the same extent, the success of a video game depends greatly on the launch date chosen by a particular publisher. Throughout the years, we've seen hasty releases backfire, eventually causing a great commotion amongst the gaming crowd mostly due to design flaws and shoddy programming. The publisher always strives to make the deadline in order to boost sales. Understandably, this usually downgrades the quality of the game. In many ways, this ubiquitous symptom still plagues the industry, repeatedly manifesting itself in popular PC franchises. (I have NO IDEA where this is going. Okay, I'm being sarcastic. - Ed)
The Orcs clearly have no mercy.
You make yourself pretty comfortable down here.
Looking back on titles like Gothic 2 and the add-on Night of the Raven, I seem to recall a series of technical flaws that annoyed many gamers. Things were sorted out in the end, but, if I remember correctly, the initial launch of the game suffered on account of lousy programming. Putting past experiences aside, we set out to play Gothic 3, eagerly expecting that such symptoms could be avoided. Can you tell where this is going? (NO! - Ed)
The Gothic series certainly stands on its own. The universe is imaginative and rich enough to capture the hearts of RPG fans and it always featured enough content to keep you occupied for a long time.
In Gothic 2 players have fought and explored throughout the island of Khorinis, far away from the coastlines of Myrtana. Gothic 3 opens as your hero's ship docks at the mainland of Myrtana. Upon your arrival, you find that the Orcs have won the war and enslaved the human inhabitants of the mainland. As a newcomer, you'll get to choose whether or not you want to fight against the Orcish oppressor or to aid them in their cause. Naturally, you don't always have to take sides, so going on your own is always an option. In truth, that's what I've always enjoyed about Gothic. Apart from the free-roam gameplay, players were always allowed to take several paths towards completing the main story. The choice has broadened this time around, giving you a chance to fight alongside several different factions and simultaneously relying on diverse skills and abilities. As before, players can distribute their experience (or, in this case, their learning points) until they become efficient in a particular field - magic, close combat, archery, alchemy, forging weapons, thieving, etc. You can take the time to fine-tune some of these skills or you can, basically, invest your hard-earned experience into all of them.
The world of Myrtana is vast and the best part is that you can go anywhere you desire any time you please. The downside to this is that the player may easily lose grip on the main story and stray off course, diving too deep into the virtual world of lizards, wolves, ogres, Orcs and whatnot (whatnots are dangerous creatures. Beware! - Ed). Although that may be fun at first, exploring in a huge environment without a particular purpose soon becomes a dreary experience. Luckily, recurring combat situations and similar repetitive gameplay moments aren't that frequent since the developers have managed to balance things out a little by offering diverse challenges for gamers. Like in any other free-roam RPG, the idea is to interact with as many characters as possible. Your best bet is to complete as many quests (and side quests) as you can and to keep chatting with characters no matter which faction they claim to support. Ultimately, you'll have a ton of things to do while you rummage around the mainland. You can do everything from rescuing hostages (from Orcs and thieves), to spying, stealing, hunting down bandits, etc. - anything that tickles your fancy really. I should also note here that you are liable to stumble on a lot of these quests almost accidentally, rather than receiving them in a more meaningful way that's related to the story. So, often, you won't have a clue where you should be going. It's as if Gothic 3 offers a little too much exploration at times.
On the bright side though, at least you'll have more fun while fighting on your exploits. Speaking as a Gothic veteran I have to say that the game's combat mechanics feel a lot less clunky than before. It's easier to face multiple opponents at once and using different weapons seems a lot more realistic and wholesome. Also, it's cool seeing new combat moves in action, as well as the new dual-wielding capabilities of your character. Dual-wielding is unlocked once you've reached a certain level.
Character progress is still handled through training and communicating with NPCs. The interface and inventory systems have received an effective overall makeover. Quickbar slots allow you to use weapons and items swiftly and without any difficulties. The inventory now features a rather welcomed addition. Objects are sorted automatically the moment you pick them up, so players won't have any trouble locating specific items when they need them.
The AI works very well for the most part. Enemies have a tendency to team up against the main character until he's completely helpless and surrounded. But Gothic 3 isn't so technically sound as you might think. After playing the game for several days, the Gothic 3 engine showed numerous flaws that annoyed the hell out of me. In a particular situation, I watched as my opponent rushed passed the main character and disappeared into the wall behind me. Once the enemy performed this miraculous act, it reengaged in combat after a few seconds from out of thin air.
Playing Gothic is fun mind you, as it was in the previous installments. We must warn you, however, that the experience quickly turns into a nightmare without the latest Gothic 3 patch installed (or if you are at least playing the North American version). Sadly, even with the latest release we ran into a lot of issues and visual bugs, most of which were apparent on GeForce video cards. Those with weaker rigs may want to rethink about playing the game with some of the modern-day effects turned on. When I tried G3 on my home rig (Athlon 2500+, GeForce 6600 GT and 1 GB of RAM) I had to tone down pretty much everything there was to tone down in terms of visual settings. Once again, it appears that the developers were forced to hasten the programming in order to make the deadline, which clearly left a huge impact on the technical aspect of Gothic 3. It might be worth mentioning that the game crashed twice, which was, in my opinion, on account of several memory leaks. It wasn't until I adjusted, or should I say, lowered most of the visual effects that I was able to enjoy a relatively acceptable frame-rate.
Enjoying the deep and open-ended world, improved combat, many quests and characters to interact with, cool soundtrack, detailed visuals...
... if you have a powerful enough rig that is; other engine-related glitches, AI and other assorted bugs, free-roaming can get tedious, terrible voice "acting."