Unnamed and Uncontrolled (4 out of 5)
If you’ve played any Gothic games in the past, you’ll recognize the storyline in Gothic3. For those who haven’t however, the gist of the game is simple. Quite some time ago, a man with no name was imprisoned by a king. Through various actions, he escaped and became a hero in past editions of the Gothic series. There’s of course a great deal more to the story, but this article is not here to present spoilers. Its good enough to say that the storyline in all of the Gothic games are well done and need to be experienced.
In Gothic 3, the Unnamed Hero arrives in a new area with some friends to find the Orcs have taken over this area and humans are being subjugated. Not willing to just stand by for that, the Unnamed Hero jumps in and frees these enslaved villagers (with some help from a few friends). Once this introduction to the new world is over, you get the option to choose your path. You can choose to fight and overthrow the Orc oppressors throughout the land. You can also choose to join them, aiding in the tyrannical reign of your new Orcish buddies. Or you can choose a unique and different path, something which is at neither end of the extremes.
This unique choice in storyline is what makes Gothic 3 so interesting, since there is now the possibility of choosing to be against humanity rather than for them - or at least choose to be a mercenary for the dark side.
A Little Swordplay And Fancy Footwork (4 out of 5)
One of the definitive gameplay elements that the Gothic series of games has is how it handles combat. Rather than just a boring clickfest, it actually behooves you to pay attention to what your opponent is doing and adjust accordingly. Gothic 3 continues this tradition, allowing the skilled swordsman to come out in everyone. By using the dodge, parry, and thrust of your character, you can be quite effective in combat. With practice, you begin to dispatch your enemies quickly, and here is where the problem lies. Critics of the game have mentioned that once you learn the rhythm of combat, it becomes a dull and boring case of just clicking at the right time. This is in some ways true; Its only fair to mention however, that too many FPS games require even less thinking and timing than that, so in that respect Gothic 3 is ahead of its time.
One thing to mention is that your reputation in the realm affects how the game goes along. If you’re performing a lot of quests for the orcs, you’ll be well received in their courts. If however, you choose more quests that aid the humans - or yourself - you’ll find you are not as welcome amongst them and perhaps better stay away. The game in fact uses reputation to provide three distinct endings, which is nice for replayability.
Stunning Scenery (5 out of 5)
Gothic 3 is like its predecessors in the graphics department. In fact, its downright stunning and beautiful. When it was first released, the demands of the game (or perhaps just the way it was coded) caused any number of lockup or crash issues. The fanbase was incensed at the lack of quality and stability in what should have otherwise been a great title. Thankfully fan-created patches - and later a professional support system - appeared so that now you can play Gothic 3 as it was intended, graphically beautiful and running like a champ. And it really is beautiful. The scenery is reminiscent in many ways of Oblivion, with impressive vistas and interactivity with the environment. This of course means you need to have a fairly powerful system, but since the game is a bit older, this shouldn’t be too difficult to overcome now.
Sounds of Silence (3 out of 5)
There really isn’t anything revolutionary or distinguishing about the music or sounds of Gothic 3. Its adequate to be sure, but definitely not something that will leave you stunned. Much like the graphics, initially the sounds caused lockups and crashes as well. That has thankfully been fixed also. The problem is that there are games that have come since this one that really shine in this department, so unfortunately because Gothic 3 is only average, it almost comes off as less than that in comparison. At the very least however, its not annoying so you won’t have the desire to just turn off the sound and crank up some MP3s instead. In a word, its just “okay”.
Here’s What You’ll Need (4 out of 5)
Gothic 3 is a graphically demanding game, but other than that, most systems in use today should be able to handle the load. The specs for the game are as follows:
- Processor: P4 2.0Ghz or better
- RAM: 512MB RAM
- Graphics: 128MB DirectX-Compatible card
- Sound: Directx 8.1-compatible card
- Hard drive: 4.6GB space
- OS: Windows XP SP1, 32 or 64 bit
There are a couple things to note about this game as well. For one thing, it comes on a DVD so you’ll need a drive that can read that. If you happen to have a PhysX graphics accelerator card, this game does install the extensions for that. If you don’t, don’t worry; it will still run either way. This game ran just fine on 64bit hardware with a 64bit OS and no PhysX card, and there didn’t appear to be any lag at all.
Final Thoughts (4 out of 5)
Gothic 3 is a decent title, definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series. If you’ve never played any Gothic games before, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this latest rendition. Graphically its beautiful, the combat is innovative for its time, and the ability to choose your path is a nice touch. You’ll need to do a search for the latest patch for stability reasons, but its not hard to find. So strap on your swordbelt, gather up your comrades and go be the Unnamed Hero that you’ve always wanted to be.