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Gothic II review
Gothic II

The good:

Graphics are gorgeous. The vocals for conversation instead of text gives the game a unique feel. A large variety of monsters and missions.

The bad:

Combat is extremely difficult. Enemies are very tough and the game doesn't provide you with any type of indicator on how to tell who will kill you instantly or not. The game is very broad but it is also very vague on the quests. The instruction book sucks. Leveling up isn't explained well.


On the whole, I enjoy playing this game. It has a real old school feel to it so if you have been playing RPG's for a while (electronic and paper) then you should enjoy it. The game really is a lot of fun but there are some very obvious flaws with the game and they all fall into the playability category.

The first is the controls. The game is entirely keyboard based. You can only use the mouse for about two functions and you play better if you learn to get by without it. But we all like our mouses. You can't even navigate the menus with it. After you learn the keyboard it isn't that bad but the learning curve is steep. You will die a lot.

In combat the game tries to give an element of realism. To attack an opponent you must first focus on him by hitting the control key. Then you can make various attacks by using the arrow keys. Lunge at him with the up arrow, parry with the back arrow, swipe left and right with the left and right arrows. This is fine as far as it goes because if you are being attacked by four goblins at once and the one you are focuse on dodges left your character will automatically spin to stay with the one you are focuse on. But the same keys you use to make your attacks are the keys you use to move. To maintain your focus you have to hold down the control key, which means you can't move. And if you release the control key to move when you press it again the game will choose the closest target to you, not the last one you had, and there is no way to scroll with the focus. So you have to hold the control key down the whole fight and stay in one spot. Very uncomfortable fighting system. It isn't a bad idea but it needs some work. And the computer is way better at parrying. Also, the length of your weapon actually matters. A guy with a two-handed sword can hit you constantly becuase he never needs to parry, his sword makes you stand back off of him so you can't reach except with a suicide lunge, which leaves you wide open.

Also hurting the playabitily it combat is that the game doesn't rank your opponents. The game has a setting to highlight the creature you are on, put a box around him, or both. It would be to easy to color code the highlight box red, green, or amber as a warning on enemies to stay away from but it doesn't. And most games have sort of a zone restriction on monsters. The place you start at as level one won't be full of level 20 monsters. They are generally built level appropriate. And you learn real quick when you are in an area you are not supposed to be in. This game doesn't. In a given area will be a huge range of monsters at all different levels and the only way to learn who to run from and who to wax is trial and error. Thankfully if you stay on the trail most of the real baddies leave you alone. But all the treasure is off the beaten path.

On the plus side of combat the AI is very sophisticated. Some monsters attack in packs, like wolves, and if you hit one they all come, some monsters don't, like field raiders, so you can tempt them away one at a time. And your humanoid opponents, dodge, parry, run, chase, switch between range weapons and meleee weapons, surrender, and everything else with good realism. So you have to fight smart. A good example is the bandits in the light house. I kept trying to catch them buy suprise by slipping around a little structure on the property but they were always ready for me. Finally I realized that one of the boards on the building was loose and dangling and it left a whole and the computer line of sight was good enought to see me through it. Thankfully, I was a good enough archer to use that hole to my advantage. It was a highlight of the AI to me.

I also like the fact that you don't pick your class at the start of the game. You role play yourself into it but the way you play the game and the info you learn. the game takes very different roads depending how you go.

The last thing I would say about this game is more and opinion than anything else. The characters swear during dialogue. Which is unneccessary. And there is a merchant in town who spends the whole game pissing against the wall with a fully animated urine stream and you have to wait for him to put it away to do business with him, and that is animated as well. There are bongs all around the city your character can sit down and smoke weed at, and the brothel has a fully animated sex scene that is definitely R rated. What is the point? It doesn't add anything to the plot or the role playing experience.

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