Screens taken at 1280 x 1024, with 4x Anti Aliasing and 16x Anisotropic Filtering enabled,
totaling 9.8 megabytes in full view shots (and at 75% compression quality). All thumbs open in a new window.
This review intended for people who have already played Gothic II.
I waited for a very very very long time to play this game. It was released around November of 2002 in German speaking countries, and then supposed to be October of the next year for the U.S. And late October at that. And then it was delayed a couple of weeks and was released early in November. At this time, the expansion pack for the game has already been released in Germany (area), and is being translated for International release.
The game picks up almost immediately where you left off on the first Gothic. You are in a completely different "world", with no knowledge of who you are (you actually go through the entire game without a name..) or where you came from, and most importantly without memory of all the fighting and magic skills you once had. From there you are supposed to get the Eye of Innos so that you can keep dragons from the Old World from completely ravaging the entire world with their stinky and fiery breath. Of course, after you get this quest there are about a hundred more you have to do to lead up to completing it.
Well, enough of the story. The world (like the first game) is huge. Massive. Takes a long time to get from one side to the other. There are lots of characters to talk to and get quests from. And even pick their pockets if you take the time to learn the skill (and you can get some pretty useful stuff this way). There are monsters-a-plenty, most of which you cannot kill until your first ten or so hours of leveling yourself up (by completing quests, and killing the weaker monsters such as sheep). There are caves scattered about the world, some with monsters and some empty, and some with characters that you can get quests from (and pick their pockets too!). There are buildings scattered about the world and have pretty much the same attributes as the caves. There is even a pyramid that you don't ever have to set foot on (if I recall correctly) for any quest you'll encounter. Of course, in these caves and buildings are items and stuff that you may find useful throughout the game.
The day/night schedule is still intact, as well as the weather system, complete with rain (sometimes accompanies by lightning), snow, and even cloud shadows. People will do different tasks depending on what time of the day it is. Merchants will close up shop and go to the tavern for a drink, and then go to bed (and sometimes get very annoyed when you wake them, especially if it's with a sword or an axe). They will work and sell goods in the rain just the same as if it were beautiful weather, though.
When you start the game, there are a few paths you can take as far as how you want to develop yourself (except you can't turn into a female.. Unfortunately). You have the option of becoming a Mercenary (focuses on fighting), Mage (focuses on magic.. of course), or a Paladin (happy medium, and happens to be the easiest choice). So for this review, and all the pictures you see is what it looks like to be a Paladin through the whole game. For each path you take there are certain quests you must complete for certain people along the way. Once you complete an entire set of quests to a certain point you are no longer able to change your mind about what you want to be.
Some (side) quests you receive in the beginning, you will not be strong enough to complete them until well into the game (or unless you exploit a game bug). One example of which is when you have to kill the bandits at the lighthouse. Even after thirty hours of playing, I still was not strong enough to kill all three of them. What happened though, was when I loaded my save game (where I saved right outside of the place) the bandits immediately ran towards me. I got scared at first, but then they ran past me and towards the cliff. They got to the edge of the cliff and just moonwalked there until I ran up and hacked them to death. Quest complete!
The graphics of the game are pretty simplistic, but very effective. Textures blend together well (with the exception of the Halls of Idorath) and that makes everything look hand made. Cut and paste leveldesign is not used in this game.. Not one section of world looks like another. There are also objects scattered in places that could tell a story of it's own. One cave I saw had a bunch of skeletons and wagons smoldering right outside of a cave, which said to me that the people that once lived inside there were attacked and they couldn't quite escape. Also, (here and there) you'll see skeletons hanging from trees or sitting in a corner somewhere (sometimes with potions and scrolls near them) which creates a certain atmosphere that can't really be felt in any other game. My only complaint is the animation sucks. Especially the sword swinging. Oh, and the third world you get into, The Halls of Idorath is really poorly made especially when you compare it to the Orc Temple (the last level of the first Gothic). It seems as though the development of the game was rushed towards the end.
The sound isn't exactly flashy, but it gets the job done. The background music isn't bad, but I got tired of hearing the City of Khorinis song after forty or so hours of playing, and turned it off until I reached new areas (with different music). The sound effects are good (but not flashy!), especially in the environment. When you're in the forest you'll hear large bugs scuttering through the leaves on the ground. When on a mountain, you'll hear the wind push through the rocks. I think my favorite sound effect is when you kill a zombie, because they fall and scream and blue light shoots out of their eyes and mouth and it's really cool. B). Another thing that makes Gothic special, is that if you don't want to read dialogue, you don't have to! All character conversations are voiced over which is a feature missing from every other RPG I've ever played. Sadly, there are only about ten different voice actors in total, so many characters have the same voice. There is a witch you'll meet named Sagitta, who obviously has a male voice actor trying to sound like a witch. It's horrible and makes my ears hurt, but this is the only example where it's especially bad.
When you get to a certain point in the game, you are actually able to go to the Old World (which I found pretty exciting) where the first Gothic took place. Unfortunately it's only 50% the size it used to be, and it's a lot less green due to the dragon fire that blasted the area. However there are lots of monsters to keep you busy... Mainly, there are Orcs everywhere, but strangely enough the Orc camp from the first game is inaccessible because the bridge is broken. Instead they have built a huge fence (that closes off 25% of the Old World) and live behind there. Here is where the Eye of Innos comes into play, as you need it to get information from the four dragons (spread out in the four corners of the Old World) and then kill them.
One thing that kind of disappoints me about the world design, is there are so many ways to go places you weren't meant to that you get stuck between rocks or sliding up a mountainside (yes.. sliding UP). I'll go through all these antics trying to jump to the top of a pile of boulders to get to the top of a cliff that I can only barely reach with the hopes of finding some special potion or scroll or book or character at the top, but instead I find holes into infinity, and ugly stretched textures that I wasn't meant to see. In the Old World I made it to where the Orc camp was supposed to be (the place across from the broken bridge), but found a mountainside that led up to nowhere (where a temple entrance used to be). Also, I found no secret caves or tunnels by swimming underwater (though I did read about one secret cave that can be found in the Old World somewhere).
The controls are a little more easy to use than the first Gothic, but still a little cumbersome until you get used to them. In the first Gothic, to pick up a plant you had to hold the mouse button and hit 'W', wheras in Gothic II you just have to mouse click. Swimming underwater is still difficult, but since I found no reason to go under it wasn't that much of a problem (swimming on the surface works the same as moving on land). Combat is good, but not near the caliber of Blade of Darkness. You can learn archery with bows and crossbows, and sword fighting with one and two handed swords. The two sword styles are slightly different, but you control them the same by holding the mouse button and pressing the directional keys in the direction you want to swing.. hopefully timing your swings good so that you can do an endless combo of death dealing.
Traveling in the game is probably where anyone would lose interest. It takes very long to get from one area to another, because the only way to get there is to run. And you run fairly (but realistically) slow. Eventually you get some teleportation runes that allow you to travel from anywhere to certain places, but even then you still have to run for a time to get exactly where you want to go. And sometimes, by the time you get there you forget why you wanted to be there in the first place.
You keep a journal in the game that records what you have learned, and what quests you have failed, completed, and are still active. While it's better than most other game journals, it still sometimes lacked key information (such as the location of a character that asked you to retrieve something for them). I still long for the ability to add my own notes to a game journal. Hopefully some developer somewhere will get smart and implement that feature.
The game is fun and addictive to play. For the first 40 hours or so. You meet people, you find items, you find secret caves, and all kinds of stuff. You learn from different people different skills that you know will help you later on. You go around collecting/stealing things so that you can sell them in shops so that you can use the money to buy things you couldn't afford before..etc..etc. After that 40 hours, the world completely loses the challenge and mystery it had in the beginning. The last bit of quests for you to complete aren't quite as inspired as they were in the beginning. The monsters that gave you so much trouble and grief, causing you to reload your game hundreds of times are now dead in one or two clumsy sword swings. All the items you got that boost your stats are no longer nessecary. The amout of gold that you've acquired will buy anything you want, not that there is anything that you actually want. So here's where the game takes a sidestep. Time to go to a completely new, third area (in addition to the old and new world). Call this one DragonIsland, or The Halls of Idorath. The place where your ultimate enemy awaits.
Talk about building up my excitement for nothing... Man this place was ugly. Lacked all of the pizazz of the first two worlds. The cave itself looked a mixture of two 8 color textures, one mostly gray and the other mostly black, spread across hundreds of angles and points and stretched almost to the point where you thought the texture would snap (but no, those are really stretchy buggers). There is a sort of crypt or dungeon or something inside the cave, that was somewhat well designed. But it lacked serious inspiration. What I said about there being no cut and paste leveldesign before.. well I lied. You see it here. Four rooms and tunnels are exactly the same, but forgivable because it makes the design symmetric in association to a certain puzzle you have to figure out to get through a door. Anyway, there's a room where you find a bunch of seekers and a Black Magician. This large room had tons of potential to be beautiful with it's intricate floor tiling and the pillars that bordered the floor, but instead came across bland and poorly designed because it did not fit well at all with the cave textures. It seems that the Gothic team were rushed during this phase in the development, because it sorely lacks anything challenging or interesting.
Well, anyway you fight your way through a bunch of orcs (which were very easy to defeat 10 hours of play ago) amd dog like creatures called wargs, and then a few magician guys that were easy to defeat 20 hours of play ago, and then a couple of puzzles (one where you have to bring down a draw bridge and another where you have raise four pillars to open a door), and then a couple of dragons (one dragon before the puzzles.. sorry). You make your way back to the entrance of the island and the game is over. Congratulations. You get to watch an amusing cut scene and then the credits.
Why Gothic 1 is better than Gothic 2
More fun. You had more involvement in the other two factions no matter which path you chose. More women. There were slave women in the big castle that were scantily clad, and cleaned stuff. The story was more interesting, and less confusing. Gothic II just didn't have a refreshing story. I felt like I had already done this same thing in several other games. Find and kill the four dragons? One of each of the elements.. fire,ice, water, whatever. The areas were more varied, and seemingly more interactive. It just seems that there was so much more to see in the first game. The ore mines and the orc temple come foremost to my mind (both of which are completely inaccessible in Gothic II). Less bugs. I never got physically stuck in the first Gothic, but I managed to do it several times in Gothic II (three times by just jumping into a pond). Also, there are many areas in Gothic II that are not properly blocked off..that in a couple of spots in these areas are actual holes in the terrain that you can fall through into nothingness, not to mention floating trees and malplaced textures. I did not find this sort of thing in Gothic I. The characters had more personality. Let's not forget Mudd, who followed you around the castle annoying you every time you showed up. Characters in Gothic II don't seem to care who you are, much less remember you for anything. In Gothic I it seemed there was more gratification to be had in completing a quest for somebody. The last level was infinitely better designed. I still can't believe how horribly disappointing The Halls of Idorath were to me, especially when I think back to the Orc Temple, which had traps and caves and bridges and.. it was so much bigger.. and better.
Better than the first Gothic, but not by much. The water reflections are sort of cheesy.
The music is actually pretty good. The environmental sounds are very effective. Character and enemy sounds have room for improvement, though.
Like the first Gothic, they work and they work well. You just have to get used to them.
Very fun and addictive action/RPG. There's lots to do and lots to see.
Compared to other games, this one is a monster. A good monster that you want to play with all the time. Compared to the first Gothic, it's not all that special but most definitely still worth playing.
Well, this concludes my review. I hope you enjoyed it, and I really hope you agree with me. Gothic II is by all means an awesome game and it was definitely worth picking up and playing through to the end. It's just that coming from the first Gothic, I had higher expectations.CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO MY KICKASS PC GAME REVIEWS