Gothic 3 Review: An Enjoyable Mess
If you are at all familiar with Gothic 3, I'm sure you've heard the overall controls are clunky, the combat is a sometimes hot mess and the quest structure is not intuitive and highly repetitive. These accusations are indeed all valid. However, somehow, Gothic 3 still managed to be addictive and fun at times.
Let's jump into our gamer category reviews to see how the Gothic 3 experience may impact you.
Gothic 3's combat is as addictive and satisfying as it is unbalanced and stupid. I've played no other RPG where you can destroy an entire battalion of orcs and then get mercilessly murdered by a rogue wolf as you are leaving the battlefield. Combat success in hooking the player with plentiful experience points and loot drops, but fails in the areas of balance and mechanics.
I'd talk strategy in more detail, but strategy in Gothic 3 is little more than running around and trying to get the drop on your enemies. As with most western RPGs, you'll get out what you put in to your battles. If you want a standard button-mashing affair, you can have it with moderate success. However, you can also learn some mouse-and-keyboard trickery to spice up your battles if you so desire.
Gothic 3 is really your story to tell. It has continuity of characters across the series, but the story arc is truly yours to control. For simplicity's sake and to avoid spoilers, just know that orcs have ravaged the land and you can either choose to fight them, fight the humans or just kill everyone and become the king of the land yourself.
Gothic 3 employs one of the worst leveling and building systems I've ever seen in an RPG (this system repeats itself across all the games in its cannon). You need Learning Points (LP) and a ton of cash in order to level. You gain 10 LP every time you level up, but cash is scarce early in the game. To make matters worse, you have to find a trainer willing to train you in the skillset you want to learn. Your skillsets are the usual suspects: Sword Fighter; Rogue or Mage. And you can build supplementary skills like Hunting, Alchemy and Thievery. Nothing is more tedious, though, than having to put your adventure on hold just to travel back to a town in order to learn how to wear better armor or swing a heavier sword.
As horrible as this may sound, Piranha Bytes still managed to hook me with their leveling system. There is something primary enjoyable about slaughtering that orc army we spoke of earlier knowing I'd get a ton of LP, weapons and other loot I can use or sell for more money to level up further.
The traversable map in Gothic 3 was surprisingly larger than what I expected after playing other games in the series (ie. Risen and Arcania Gothic 4). Incentive to explore is moderately high as you can always find monsters to fight, treasure and additional side quests.
Unfortunately, aside from the hook I mentioned in the builders category, exploration is somewhat hindered by extremely repetitive quests, side quests and combat.
Towns serve as the main hubs to deliver the main quests and side quests. The problem with this model lies in the fact that the main quest givers are always hidden behind a pay wall who's currency is your reputation points in that particular town. How do you acquire said reputation points? By completing errands for people in each town. It's not the worst model I've ever seen for quest management, but it certainly limits player freedom and turns much of the experience into an errand-running simulator.
Audiophiles and Visualists
I'd describe the soundtrack, sound effects and overall visual presentation in Gothic 3 to be adequate. I was pleasantly surprised by a few tracks that went the extra mile to set the game's mood. I was also impressed with how well some of the lighting and texturing was handled for a game over eight years old
The best phrase I can think of to describe Gothic 3 is to call it an enjoyable mess. So many bad design choices mixed with semi-poor combat implementation, still managed to be fun for me as I greatly enjoy questing to build a better unique in-game character. With that in mind, please also consider that Gothic 3 is a resource hog. Even with a dang near $2,000 PC I experienced quite a bit of slow-down, screen flickering and game freezes.