Gothic III Review
Itís hard to play Gothic 3 and not think about Oblivion. Both games create a massive world and give you a lot of freedom to choose your path within it. The similarities end there, though. While Oblivion is a highly-polished, intriguing, and very deep RPG, Gothic 3 is buggy, quirky, and at times annoying. If youíre choosing between the two, just go out and get Oblivion now and enjoy yourself. If youíre still interested in Gothic 3, then read onÖ
The first thing that you need to be aware of with this game is that it is a system hog, and like a hog even if you give it all it wants to eat itís still kind of sloppy. Even on a high-end system youíll need to keep the resolution low and the graphics options toned down to make the game playable, and even after you do this youíll see graphical hiccups and slowdowns. Iím not sure if the game was shipped before the graphics engine was optimized or if none of the testers bothered to try and run the game at the full detail levels, but the end result is that machines that easily run the latest FPS games with all of the graphical bells and whistles enabled find themselves awkwardly chugging their way along with Gothic 3. For all of its appetite, the game delivers its graphics with mixed results. The outside world can look really good with its sweeping vistas and distant landmarks, but interiors are dull and repetitive and the game has numerous clipping issues and an annoying tendency to get your character stuck on objects in the game world.
Now that weíve got that warning out of the way we can start looking at the game itself. Gothic 3 places you in a land that has recently been conquered by an army of orcs. Your job is to either help the land throw off the yoke of the orc oppressors or help them stomp out the remainder of the resistance. This is probably the most interesting aspect of the game. You can select quests that will provide a benefit to one side or the other and your choices will affect the world around you. Kick the invaders out of a village and youíll find that the locals will return and bring the village back to life. Aid the orcs and youíll find yourself hated and reviled by your fellow humans. Unfortunately the system which is the gameís greatest asset is plagued by a fundamental design flaw. If you stick with one side exclusively, then the other will eventually despise you to the point where theyíll attack you on sight. The problem is that you must complete quests from both sides to finish the game, and it is impossible to get quests from people who want to see you dead. Since thereís no way to get back in the good graces with the side youíve angered youíre pretty much stuck. You righteous slayers of oppressive invaders will find that your noble intentions will keep you from fishing the game.
Youíll not surprisingly find yourself spending a lot of time in combat, but unfortunately the combat system has some serious issues. First of all it is plagued with slowdown. I didnít once have the opportunity to engage in smooth swordplay and feel that I was in a fair fight. The game has a simple combat system in which pressing the mouse buttons unleashes fast or strong attacks with the power of your swings determined by the length of time you hold down the mouse buttons. However, with the jerky staccato combat itís darn near impossible to time your attacks and so battles degenerate into frantic click-fests. And then thereís the issue caused by one of the most horrendous design decisions Iíve seen in a while. During a battle itís entirely possible for you to get knocked on your backside and drop your weapon. Youíll then be unarmed until you pick it up again, and good luck to you if this happens outdoors in the grass because the only way youíll ever find it again is by sweeping the mouse slowly across the screen until you see the weaponís name pop up. Making matters worse, after you pick your weapon back up it goes into your inventory and not back into your hand. Youíre then forced to go to the inventory screen to select the weapon and equip it Ö and the game is not paused while youíre on your inventory screen. Thatís right, your noble knight will sit there getting hacked to death as he carefully picks up his weapon, puts it into his sack, and then rummages through everything stored in that sack until he finds his sword again. This first happened to me early in the game when I left the starting village and was attacked by a wild boar that I could barely see under the tall grass. I got knocked on my butt and dropped my sword, so I switched to my bow. I was promptly knocked down again and dropped the bow. As I stood there weaponless with no idea where my weapons ended up in the grass I was quickly gored by said boar. This is when things really got frustrating. Every time I tried to return to the scene I found that the boar was just hanging around guarding my weapons. I had to make a mad dash into the area do a quick weapons sweep and then dash out again. When I finally found the sword I ran for my life to a safe place where I could equip the weapon. This time I gave the boar what was coming to him without managing to drop my sword in the grass again. I was then free to begin a leisurely sweep for my bow, but after an exhaustive search I couldnít find it and was stuck playing without a bow for a while.