Gothic II Review
We get Gothic with this roleplaying game from Piranha Bytes.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 21st October 2003
- Developer: Piranha Bytes
- Publisher: Atari
- Release Date: 13th June 2003
The first Gothic saw our un-named hero sent to a mining prison colony where the inmates were made to mine magical ore in order to fend off the Orcs. The game ultimately saw players fighting off evil and bringing death to The Sleeper.
Gothic 2 takes place right after these events, the magical barrier which once protected the colony has been destroyed and most of the prisoners have escaped. Despite the fact that The Sleeper is no more the isle of Khorinis is still plagued by evil and it is your quest to travel to the city to explain the situation to the leader of the Paladins and hence, save the city from certain destruction.
After your scuffle with The Sleeper in the first Gothic you were rescued from under a pile of rocks by a wizard going by the name of Xardos. At the beginning of Gothic 2 you find yourself in Xardos’ tower and it is here where you will learn of what has happened to you and why the city of Khorinis needs your help. During the teleportation you lost the majority of your strength and abilities so you start your journeys as a weakened and not so skilled version of your former self, not so ideal in a world full of wild, nasty beasts, cut throat bandits and Orcs!
Your first step is to leave the tower and make your way to the City of Khorinis. Although the story is based around one mission there are many sub quests to fulfil both in Khorinis and scattered around the wilderness. There is normally one path linking important area’s together and these paths are surrounded by a mass environment of meadows, farms and wilderness. The path is sign posted so despite the huge world in which the game takes place it is fairly difficult to get yourself really lost, even if you do dare to wonder from the path!
At first your arsenal will be limited stretching from a wooden stick to a small dagger, the first few enemies you come across will pose a small challenge to players who are not used to the controls and combat system so it is best to limit your battles to one enemy at a time and save the game regularly. Basic ‘small time’ enemies come in the form of Goblins, Wolves and Bloodflies and whenever an enemy is killed you gain experience points which will later be used to progress your level of abilities and gain learning points. Once you get the hang of it the combat system is pretty effective, once a weapon has been drawn it is just a case of holding down the left mouse button and using the arrow keys to direct your blows. The combat system also allows the use of Combos and blocks adding more than a simple button thrashing system.
Keeping your hero healthy is essential to your progress so regular sleep and food is needed. Food is easy to come across, most slaughtered animals provide meat which your character can eat raw or fry to provide a more nutritious meal. Various other items of food can often be found lying around such as fish, apples and bread and some of these can be used to make a fuller meal, for instance a fish can be eaten on its own to provide a small health boost or it can be made into fish soup to provide your character with a proper meal. Naturally, as it is an RPG you can expect to find various health plants and herbs lying around too although some are more useful if sold rather than eaten. The game features a good day/night cycle enabling you to judge when it is time to rest your hero. He can be put to sleep in any bed however in the city of Khorinis there are houses which provide a number of beds specifically for travellers such as yourself free of charge.
Once in the city your task is to gain entry into the upper quarters to speak to Lord Hagen, to do this however you must be a citizen of the town which means you need to find yourself a job. Throughout the town there are people wondering around, chatting to each other and generally going about their daily business which makes a change from the robots which are normally present in these types of games. We even noticed a man urinating up a wall, when approached by us he hastily zipped up his trousers and turned to face us proving that he wasn’t just a prop in the background of the game!
Speaking to characters is your best way of finding out information and taking on small sub quests, naturally some are more willing to talk than others and we noticed that ‘important’ people had names other than “worker” and “farmer” so it is fairly obvious who will hold a decent conversation with you before you commit yourself to the dialogue. Sub quests can be anything from finding a thief to stitching someone up for a crime they haven’t committed and thankfully all quests are jotted down in your diary should you wish to return to them later on.
There are plenty of other things to do in the game besides run around completing tasks such as engaging in a street fight for money, visiting the local brothel (providing a rather saucy yet corny cut-scene!) and going to the bar. Experience points are awarded for beating enemies, winning fights and completing tasks and these points can then be turned into learning points which you can spend improving your characters abilities, this process is rather slow which means you really do need to spend wisely as it might be a while before you get the opportunity again.
Gothic 2 is great visually however the game tends to suffer from occasional graphical breaks and bad collision detection, many a time we saw a wolf stuck in a tree or a goblin stuck in a wall however character models and animation is superb and the overall environment has been nicely designed. The day/Night cycle is highly realistic and the weather effects add life to the game.
The games audio receives top marks, in the city you can hear the hustle and bustle of people going about their daily business, chattering between themselves and making conversation. The hammering and grinding of the blacksmith along with the sawing and nailing of the carpenter really gives a realistic impression that work is been carried out in the city.
In the wilderness surrounding the city the rattling in the bushes and rustling of the trees is enough to make you believe that your character really is walking through the wilderness. What tends to let the games audio down however is the voice acting which instantly reminds you that it’s just a game? Since the game is supposed to be set in much older times than these you don’t expect to hear an Al Pachino wannabe speaking to you about the cities inhabitants. Some of the words used in dialogue are also clearly inappropriate which really tends to spoil the feel of the game.
All in all Gothic 2 is a huge game providing so much freedom to players that the replay value is endless. Each time you put on this game you could play it completely differently from living your life as a good soldier of the king to living in the wilderness robbing people of their goods. Quests are generally varied and interesting and there is so much to do should you ever get bored of the way the game is taking shape, should you really get sick of things you could even leave the town and take up work in the countryside as a humble farmer. The choices are endless. Despite suffering from some stability problems Gothic 2 is a must have for any gamer and if you don’t like RPG’s as a rule this game may even manage to change your mind.
Review Score: 8/10
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