Gothic PC Review
Jamie Wharton / Nov 30th, 2001 No Comments
I’m quite happy for you to quote me on saying that Baldurs Gate 2 is perhaps the finest game ever made and deserves praise outside the games industry for its sheer depth of interaction, I also remembering giving Secret of Mana a small round of applause when I finished it all those years ago. This kind of enthusiasm has led me to Gothic…a new 3D RPG with an original story y’say? Do tell…
Gothic’s story revolves around the land of Myrtana and its rich lands, fit to burst with natural resources. These lands were at risk from the Orks, to protect his most valuable lands, the King of Myrtana had 12 Mages create a magical barrier around the mines and the convicts forced to work there. So the game begins with you being thrown into this land, cut-off from the rest of the world by the barrier, given a letter for you to deliver to one of the Mages…now all you have to do is fit in and find your way about. Thankfully all this is well told and is probably the strongest aspect of Gothic, I did want to know what was happening; I cared about where my adventure would take me. For me that’s half the battle done for an RPG.
After being thrown into the mix you meet Diego, a friendly figure from the biggest, and the original, of the three camps that have developed in this self-contained world, The Old Camp. The Old Camp is full of the miners, then there is the New Camp, which has its fair share of shady dealers, and the Loony Camp in the swamp. Diego tells you about how things work around here, which people are important and what people are like, this is something I really loved, you really do feel like an outsider, like your on their turf and you want to fit in. The lack of any cringe-worthy dialogue certainly helps here, all the voice acting is adequate, if not up to the fantastic standard set in the Baldurs Gate titles.
After meeting Diego you are free to start exploring, this is where the originality of the storyline disappears and it becomes fairly standard RPG fare…the game relying on talking to the right people to climb the ladder of respect along with the obligatory sub-quests. The game heavily resembles Heretic as more than one person has commented to me, while this isn’t a bad thing really, the character models are very suspect, the texturing is fairly detailed but up close you can see a very crude structure underneath them, animation is equally rough. On the plus side though, the environments are very atmospheric and rich, lots of trees and shrubs, bridges, rivers…it just feels like going for a walk in the woods. I should also mention that this woodland stroll is backed by some lovely ambient background music.
This attention to detail is even more impressive as the environments are huge and suffer from pretty much no loading times at all. The detail extends to activity too, for example, walking round the camps you can see people chatting, cooking, building and then when nightfall comes (there is a gradual day/night cycle as well as some albeit rough looking weather effects) people relax and huddle round campfires. At one point I was strolling along at night using inadequate torch light and was attacked by two giant birds, I panicked and attacked one with my sword, dropping my torch, the second bird bore down on me and then hit the floor as the hunter I hadn’t seen in the dark felled the thing with a couple of arrows. This was just a random occurrence too, not a scripted sequence.
In terms of genuine pointy-hatted-+3AP-and-resistant-to-fire-bastards fiddly RPG depth you won’t be working with a system as detailed as Baldurs Gate. There isn’t an initial class system but a system similar to Planescape Torment where you train your character to the strengths you want to take advantage of, the standard fare, fighting, magic, and thief skills…
Spells are present if not terribly numerous either, there are around 60 weapons however, plus a multitude of items and armour as you would expect.
Selecting these items is however a nightmare with the default set-up, pressing Ctrl + W to pick something up seems rather long winded to me… This leads me onto the dodgy combat system…you press Space to draw your weapon and then hold Ctrl to ready it and then press a movement direction to perform a swing. This is very fiddly when you have a few enemies on you and the rather wooden animation does not help the feel of it one little bit.
Altogether this is not an especially outstanding game, I found myself playing it thinking its just another RPG…to a certain extent that’s true, but behind some of the ugly graphics and the rotten controls lies a genuinely interesting story, I’d say its definitely worth a go if you’re an RPG fan who thinks he/she can live with these annoyances, a nice stop-gap until Interplay gets its problems sorted out and gives us Neverwinter Nights.
Gothic has received a decent score of 3 / 5 for an overall score of 60.0%. Something that falls in this category would be one that we would suggest buying if it was taylored to meet your specific needs.