This is a spoiler-free review of the game “Gothic 3″. The Gothic franchise consists of three full games and two add-ons. In my review of “Gothic”, I compared the game to “The Elderscrolls 3 – Morrowind”. In this review, I will compare Gothic 3 to its predecessors: Gothic, “Gothic 2” and “Gothic 2 – Night of the Raven”. Since its release, Gothic 3 has had its ups and downs. When it was released in 2006 it was riddled with bugs. It was such a mess that IGN (ign.com) labelled it as “a sprawling, sputtering experience” and rated it 4.9 out of 10.
It received a series of updates and with the final update the game was renamed as “Gothic 3 – Enhanced Edition”. In the patched game, most bugs have been eliminated so players should experience few if any problems. The patched version is a good game. It does certain things much better than most games but the game is not without its flaws. From now on, when I refer to Gothic 3 I will be referring to Gothic 3 – Enhanced Edition.
Combat System and Animation
Once again, Piranha Bytes delivers in one of the most important areas of an RPG. I really like the combat system and combat animation in Gothic and Gothic 2 but I like the way these are done in Gothic 3 even more. Although the player can’t do the same strikes in Gothic 3 that are available in the previous games, Gothic 3 gives the player more strikes to choose from. Gothic 3 combat is designed so that enemies move slow enough for the player to avoid attacks and counter them.
Enemies and the player both have several strikes to choose from. Each time the player clicks the mouse the hero does 1 strike. No strikes are done automatically for the player. This makes the combat challenging especially for new players. However, since the player is in control of everything he does, the combat feels very satisfying once the player has become proficient.
In my review of Gothic, I stated that the animation doesn’t stop when the hero’s sword makes contact with an enemy but instead continues until the hero’s sword is at his side – on the opposite side from where it started. This is also the case in Gothic 3. If you do a forehand strike, the sword will keep moving until it arrives on your character’s left side, at which point you can do a backhand strike. Another similarity with the previous games is the fluidity and realism of the animation. The strikes flow together very well and look very realistic.
As is always the case with Piranha Bytes games, you must practice to become proficient at combat. In time, you’ll realize when enemies are vulnerable and what strikes you should do to maximize damage.
Net every RPG has both a good combat system and a good magic system. In Gothic 3 the magic system is very well developed so if you like playing as a mage you won’t be disappointed. There are three schools of magic, each with 13 spells. Each school of magic has both minor and major spells. Minor spells can be very useful and require little mana to cast while major spells require a lot of mana and can do a lot of damage to enemies. The player has complete freedom when creating a mage character. You can stick with just one school of magic or learn spells from any two or all three. Each school has some excellent spells for magical combat so if you choose to learn spells from one school only, you will be missing out but you can play that way if you wish. The animation for the spells is also excellent.
Gothic 3’s in-game interface is excellent. It’s the best of any game I’ve ever played. Everything you could possibly want to know about your character is displayed in one very well organized window. The information is broken down into major categories accessible through tabs located on the right side of the window. One tab contains your inventory, another displays the skills you’ve learned, another lists the magic spells you’ve learned. etc. If you click on one of the tabs, the information in the corresponding category may be broken down further into small sub-categories accessible through tabs across the top.
If you want you can assign a keyboard key to each of the major categories mentioned above: one for inventory, one for skills, one for spells, etc. Pressing one of those keys would load the window and automatically display the corresponding category. This gives you quick access to specific sections of the interface. When I play, I assign a key to inventory because it’s used the most and then use the mouse to move to the other categories.
The games preceding Gothic 3 have excellent musical compositions but they can’t compare to the music in Gothic 3. I have read posts in forums from fans of the game who feel that Gothic 3 has the most beautiful music to be found in any game. I agree with that opinion. A good way to experience the different compositions is to launch the game and then remain at the main menu when it loads. You will then hear samples of the game’s music play on a loop of about 3 minutes.
Voice acting is a strength for the games preceding Gothic 3. In fact, it is one of the best features of each game. For the original Gothic, in particular, it is truly outstanding. However, it is not one of Gothic 3’s strengths. The voice acting for the orcs is well done and at times the dialogue is funny. However, the voice acting for the human characters is often lifeless and boring. So, overall, the voice acting for Gothic 3 is mediocre.
Game-world, Quests and Graphics
Gothic 3 is a big game. The game-world is divided into three major regions, each with a unique climate and terrain. The fact that the game-world is big is in one way a benefit since it means that there is a lot to explore. However, it can also be a detriment to the game if the environment does not have enough variety. That is the case in Gothic 3. There are areas that are interesting and fun to explore but there are also areas that are not at all interesting.
This is in sharp contrast to the game-world in Gothic 2 which is extremely well designed with great variety and always holds your interest. So, overall, the Gothic 3 game-world, like the voice acting, is mediocre.
Although the game-world is not as interesting as it could be, there is great variety in the many quests, several of which are very long. By requiring travel between two or more of the three major regions, these very long quests ensure that you are never without a quest.
The graphics in Gothic 3 are quite good but can be improved with mods, making the game look as good as possible.
Gothic 3 offers considerable replayability. First, the game allows you to play as a warrior, ranger or mage or any combination of the three. Within these three options there are several more options. As a warrior you have three main options to choose from when designing your character. As stated earlier, mages have three types of magic to choose from.
Second, Gothic 3 has several factions but they are all divided into two forces competing against one another and you are free to support either side. If you want, you can even join one side but still do some work for the other side.
Finally, near the end of the game you have to make a choice. If your reputation is high enough with each of the two competing forces (from doing quests for both sides), you can end the game supporting one or the other or you can choose a third option and support neither. The option you choose determines the quests you will be given near the end of the game. This means you have three ways to end the game – if your reputation is high enough with the two competing forces. Otherwise, ending the game in support of one of the two sides will not be an option for you.
All the above factors give Gothic 3 great replayability. There are, in fact, so many options it makes it difficult to count how many different ways you could play.
Gothic 3 is a game with its good points and bad points. The things it does well, it does extremely well. This includes combat, music, the magic system and the in-game interface. However, the game definitely has its flaws; voice acting and the design of the game-world are both mediocre and prevent the game from rising to the level of the previous games in the franchise. Overall, it is a good game with countless options for replayability and contributes a worthy chapter in the Gothic story.
The Gothic 3 Enhancement Project
The Gothic 3 Enhancement Project has created mods to improve Gothic 3’s graphics, fix remaining minor bugs and add new quests. They also created a program that players can download that can modify the game, allowing it to access 4GB of memory instead of the default 2GB. This makes the game more stable, resulting in fewer crashes – not that there were very many of those to begin with. To get the most out of this game I suggest you download and install these files. Download links and installation Instructions can be found on their website: http://www.skyrim-beautification-project.com/gothic3/index.htm
Click here to read a review of the game that started the Gothic franchise.