Gothic 3 Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:JoWooD Productions
Developer:Piranha Bytes
Release Date:2006-11-14
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Introduction

Gothic 3 is an action RPG that continues the adventures of the nameless hero whom we first met back in 2001's Gothic. It begins where Gothic 2 ended by relocating a number of familiar characters from the island of Khorinis and the original Gothic onto the mainland of Myrtana. The mechanics of the game and its interface have been streamlined allowing for more straightforward combat, hunting and spell casting techniques. However familiarity with the Gothic series is an advantage in the areas of alchemy and cooking. For the newcomer, Gothic 3 uses a familiar RPG formula and the user friendly interface is easy to grasp. The graphics are stunningly detailed which, when combined with seamless play (there are no loading screens), helps to immerse the player in the game world. Yet this is offset by technical problems caused by demands the game places on even a high specification machine.

Technical Issues

Gothic 3 was released in Europe on the October 13, 2006. Before the month was out, several reviewers had come to the conclusion that the game was unfinished and required patching. Problems reported included bodies floating above the ground, enemies running into walls, and impossible to win skirmishes, but these were small fry compared to the games tendency to crash repeatedly. In total, these difficulties rendered the game almost unplayable. Despite claims by Piranha Bytes that the game will run with a lesser specification than the recommended GeForce 6800, 1.5 GB RAM, and Intel/AMD 2 GHz processor, any amount of RAM below 2 GB struggles with the game's Genome graphics engine and a GeForce 7-series card or better comes highly recommended in order to play the game at a decent framerate. Two patches were released before the end of October 2006 to address crash-related bugs and other issues, improve performance, and simplify combat. The latest (official) patch is number four, which in April 2007 was aimed at fixing, amongst others, an ambient sound bug and several small quest bugs. Luckily, to fix many of the game's remaining problems and to take care of Vista-related woes, the community stepped up and has released five separate fan-made patches to date. The latest community patch (version 1.6), released just before Christmas 2007, features a changelog that spans a total of eight pages. Included on the long list are a multitude of gameplay fixes, crash-related fixes, and, courtesy of JoWooD and Spellbound Entertainment, the removal of the game's unfriendly copy protection.

The machine I used to play Gothic 3 is well beyond the specifications recommended. It uses dual SLi nVidia 9800GTX graphics cards, 2 GB RAM, and a quad-core 2.66GHz processor. Yet, despite downloading all necessary patches and updating to the latest graphics driver, lag on mouse movement, momentary freezing whilst the nameless hero is running, speech cutting in and out, and crashes to the desktop are all still commonplace. Bodies also continue to float above the ground and run through walls, making it clear that the community patches have yet to address certain issues that have been present in the game since release. These hitches are regrettable in a game which encompasses a diverse and enthralling universe, fast and furious battles, and a storyline where the player's freedom of choice actually impacts how other characters interact with the nameless hero. However, if you're able to get past them, there's truly an epic role-playing game to be found here.

Story, Character Development and Gameplay

The opening sequence informs the player that King Rohbar has been defeated by the Orcs who now rule an unstable Myrtana. The Fire mages and Paladins, supporters of Innos the god of light, have lost their magical powers due to the actions of the necromancer Xardas, who has become a human conduit for the dark god Beliar's power. In earlier Gothic games, Xardas is crucial to the survival and advancement of the nameless hero. In Gothic 3, you must determine which side Xardas is truly supporting - the Orc's or Rohbar's. In a number of respects, this is a game of political intrigue.