I remember, way back in the day (about a year ago) somebody came into the Blade of Darkness forums asking everybody to sign a petition to allow Gothic be sold outside of Germany. The guy said nothing but good things about it, and felt that others besides Germans should enjoy it. So, I signed the petition thinking I was never going to even try it. The way he described it was as if it was one of those massive multiplayer game-things/crack-cocaine.
Lo and behold, with no notice, 9 months later Gothic appeared on the shelf of Software Etc. And I promptly bought it. I was there to buy a game, right? I couldn't decide between Soul Reaver 2 and Aquanox. So I ended up with Gothic. Published by Xicat, it came with no warranty whatsoever. Which was kind of unsettling considering I paid 50 dollars for it. And on top of that, half of the files are in German. If I want to uninstall the game, I have to click on 'Deinstallerien' instead of 'Uninstall'. And on top of that it didn't work at all on my video card (I have SOOOO many rants about the Radeon 8500). There was a quick fix for that, though. Apparently if you trick the card into thinking it has dual display enabled (or you can actually enable a second display), Gothic will work wonderfully. I e-mailed Pirhanna Bytes (the developer) with this problem and they said they were working on a solution. About a week later a patch was released and it fixed it. So even after all of this stuff I had to go through, I somehow managed to be very cool about it. I simply felt glad that it was released in America at all. And the fact that the customer support was better than any other company I've ever had to deal with, made up for the fact that there was no warranty for the game.
These shots were taken to show the weather/time system implemented in the game. Each picture was taken 2 minutes apart. Notice the moon going down, then the 'magic shield' warbling as clouds roll in for the rain, then the fog-in because of the 'rain', and then the shield warbling again as the clouds roll out. There's lightning too, but I wasn't quick enough to catch it.
There's so much about this game...it's hard to figure out where to start. Okay...how about the beginning of the game? Sounds good.
You start out with the opening movie of some guy telling you to give a letter to the head fire mage, and then you get pushed into the shield to deliver it. Apparently you are going to prison, and to do that task would mean freedom. Maybe. The rest of the game has little to do with that. I had most of my fun running around and exploring the massive world contained in the game. The character runs at a good pace, and to go from one end of the colony to the other (the swamp camp to the old camp mines) it took me about 10 minutes. To circle the entire thing...I would imagine 35-40 minutes. And there's still tons of stuff in between. I was mostly in disbelief on how much work had been put into the game. The main thing that surprised me is that I NEVER got stuck inside an object. I could run between crevices, drop down into trees, jump inbetween rocks...etc, etc. I always managed to get out of it. This surprises me so much because of how the world itself is designed. It seems that the developers did it in stages. One of which was.. "It would be cool if I put this here" phase. There's places where if you turn, you can see textures underneath each other... as if they thought the original one was out of place, and instead of deleting it and making a new one, they just covered it up. Complete on-the-fly development. Another thing I find amazing is that there's no pattern to any part of the world. Fences run along hills at different angles, with many different textures. Roads wind this way and that, no bridge is alike. Except two. (The Orc camp and the Orc Temple). Towers have different designs, floorplans. Castle walls have breaks and moss, and little add-ons all over the place. Etc. Etc. In better words, I love the design. I'm glad they took liberties with it, and somehow made it work better than most other 'professionally' developed games.
As you can see, there's a lot of scenery to look at. There's also tons of people to talk to. I've beaten the game, and I'm sure I've missed out on at least half of the possible conversations.
So what type of game is it? Simply put, it's a role playing game. I choose to see it as a separate world from this own. Not a game, but another way of life. For instance, when you kill a monster, you can take it's meat (once you learn the skill from somebody), and it shows up in your inventory as raw meat. You can then proceed to the nearest camp, and you should be able to find a pan sitting on top of a fire. You can then use it, and cook your meat. Then it says it in your inventory as grilled meat. You can make your own swords, stir pots, read books, fight in arenas (which is kind of disappointing as you can only fight two people once each), pick pockets and locks, make friends, make enemies, become part of a weed-smoking cult, and many, many more. I'd have to play it again to be able to tell you more than that. You see, your character will develop slowly according to the decisions you make for him. Should he help this guy or that guy? Should he invest in mana or strength? Should he pick a fight with Diego or follow his quests word for word. After all, he did punch you in the face when you first arrived. (Correction: found out two months ago, but was WAY too lazy to add in here... It wasn't Diego that punches you. It's somebody else, my mistake. Thanks, Eddie.)
The interface is kind of clunky. It doesn't make sense, but it works. Basically you have to memorize which keys do what. For instance, the jump button makes you swim forward, and you pilot the swimmer with the mouse or direction keys, whereas while on land, the 'w' key makes him go forward. Of course you can customize the keys to whatever you want. One of my favorite things is the 'extra' config sheet located within the Gothic directory. The only thing I adjusted was the amount of blood, though (raised to max...this way near dead animals leave a trail behind when they run away from you).
Other things worth mentioning include the ability to carry ANYTHING in your inventory. There is no limit. Also whenever you clear out a cave of monsters, you are always rewarded with something useful. There have been many games I've played where you spend hours clearing out skeletons and all you get in the end is a helmet that you've already had for days. There's also a good variety of monsters and weapons and spells. Not the most I've seen, but all are useful. The game itself is rather easy, which I like. You can kill anything if you have the patience. Shoot it with an arrow, run away, and when it stops chasing you, shoot it again. I've spent many hours doing this, and I never tire of it. Later when I learned the fire storm spell, it became much more efficient. I noticed that if you switch to sword while the monster is burning, it will die, and if you don't, it will just run after you. A welcome bug if you ask me.
The graphics as a whole aren't spectacular. Everything has sort of a 'cartoony' look to it. However, there is still an amazing amount of detail in everything you look at. Especially if you have the viewing distance set at 300%. The ability to stand on any mountain in the game and still see the Old Camp castle is just great. Some things deserve to be stared at. Notably the sunken tower near the fallen monastery, as well as most of the waterfalls, and nearly ALL of the inside of the Orc temple.
Not much here. I think that's because they were saving space for all of the dialogue. Adequate, nothing more.
I've already said a little som' som about this. Still clunky, and once you get used to it, it's hard to go to another game with something different. The main thing is that there is no 'use' key. Instead you have to press 'use + up' if you want to pick something up, attack, or talk to somebody.
I don't know if I should even call this a game. It doesn't seem like one to me. Seems like more of an art. A world created solely for others to enjoy. It's still addictive, as long as there's more to explore, new people to meet and items to get.
A damn good waste of time. I put nearly 100 hours total into it, and I'm contemplating whether or not I should start a new game and try to join a different camp. It's tempting, I tell you. There is more in Gothic than I've seen in any other game. Definitely worth my hard earned time.
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