Score: 8.2 / 10
lot of times when playing PC RPGs players really have to think long and
hard about a deluge of stats, be it their charactersí stats, or how to
combine the various magically imbued items in their inventory.
Itís always a delicate balancing act and can often prove quite
strenuous for all but the most seasoned fans of the genre. For those who arenít terribly fond of this seemingly
constant stat checking, but still enjoy the occasional role-playing
romp, Gothic II might be right up your alley.
Despite a clunky inventory, some steep system requirements and an
even steeper learning curve for itís combat system, Gothic IIís
streamlined character building system, high degree of exploration,
challenging gameplay, and entertaining story, are sure to keep players
busy for hours.
up where its predecessor left off, players come to in Xardasí
necromantic tower. He then
informs you that a rift has been opened after defeating the Sleeper in
the previous game now causing orcs, dragons, and all
manner of beastly unpleasantness to pouring into the world.
Of course it then falls upon the player to set things right. The plot, while still having its main thrust, leaves itself
fairly open-endedness, similar to that of Morrowind.
Players know their ultimate goal, but can try to achieve it as
they see fit. There are
certain scripted events that canít be avoided, but the freedom of
choice that Gothic IIís relatively non-linear nature allows is
much appreciated. Dialogue
in the story telling is a tad hit and miss, thanks to some highly
questionable voice acting, but overall Gothic IIís story is an
While embarking on this adventure there will be plenty of opportunities to whack away on various enemies. While it is fun once you get the hang of it, learning to use the controls for combat takes quite a bit of time to get your timing right to really lay into an enemy. For the first little while swinging at enemies will not feel fluid at all as you clumsily take a few swings at your opponent but with time and lots of practice it becomes a lot easier to quickly connect with an enemy and be
dispatch it in a timely manner.
One other problem with enemies is that you have no idea how
strong they are until they engage you in battle.
The difficult comes in discovering that the being youíre
fighting is far stronger than you when it kills your character in one or
two hits. There will be
plenty of trial and error and uttering, ďWell, crapÖĒ as you learn
when youíre ready to take on this or that species of enemy.
Even more frustrating is that sometimes these enemies are
peppered throughout the game in an illogical manner.
You can be fighting a group of enemies roughly on par with your
own level of strength, then wander a few hill tops away and be ambushed
by some heavy hitters. However,
despite the potentially high level of difficulty the combat can hit
players with, it still remains highly enjoyable.
You simply need to be patient early on so to get used to the
what requires the patience of a saint in Gothic II is its inventory
system, as it is the clunkiest, most unintuitive means of keeping track
of your items to come along in some time.
First and foremost is its inability to sort your items in a
highly customisable manner. Thereís
a vague rhyme and reason to it as relatively similar items are kept
together but not nearly as well done as other RPGs.
Even worse, when trying to get an item from your inventory it is
done solely through the arrow keys as opposed to using your mouse.
Another problem is that the map is of little use in the game.
It shows the world as a whole, but there is no auto-mapping
feature, a staple in todayís RPGs.
The one area of your inventory menu that is well done is your
quest log, making it easy to keep track of the legions of quests you may
have on the go at any given time.
the complete opposite end of the clunkiness spectrum is the way players
build their character in the game.
Unlike other games where players are constantly finding
themselves having to think long and hard as to how they will tweak their
characters abilities from a long list of skills, in Gothic II the number
of skills players have to improve are kept relatively finite.
Once you have chosen one of the guilds to join and become one of
the few major classes in the game, it is a simple matter of improving
the four basic skill sets appropriately to that class.
Itís stripped down and simplistic, greatly accommodating people
with a distinct dislike for number crunching.
Traversing the world of Gothic II, players are really in for a graphical
treat. The environments are
lush, full of detail, and all sorts of beautiful lighting effects.
On top of this the animation is very smooth. The one problem players may encounter because of the high
level of quality in the gameís visual presentation is that it does
require a reasonably powerful computer.
It is possible to adjust the visual settings for the game to help
it run better on slower systems, but even then it can be quite taxing on
your PC. Nonetheless, if
you have a reasonably powerful processor and an above average videocard,
be prepared for plenty of eye candy here.
the audio side of things, players can expect an enjoyable experience as
well. While not as good as
the visuals, Gothic IIís aural presentation is still well done.
There are lots of very solid, believable effects as well as some
nice, atmospheric music. However,
as I mentioned before, the voice acting can be a bit hit and miss.
Gothic IIís problematic inventory system, as well as its
sometimes-difficult battles, it is still a very fun RPG.
The story is very well done, it provides lots of challenge, and
itís very easy on the eyes even though you need a good computer to
enjoy it fully.
(January 30, 2004)
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