I was surprised I never did a netbook gamer review of Gothic II Gold. Why surprised? Because it is in my ‘Top 5′ games, and I have played yearly since 2003. It is a huge, open-world, story-based fantasy RPG full of Orcs, Goblins, Mages, dragons and an intriguing plot. The game remains amazing to play and one of my favorites.
Type of app: Role-playing (RPG) game
Platform/where to buy: PC; available in the GoG.com Store
Developer: Piranha Bytes
What’s cool about it:
- Includes Gothic II and the expansion pack Night of the Raven
- A great variety of roleplaying elements – from fighting to crafting
- Massive, extremely well-designed environment makes for a strong immersion factor
Gothic II starts off a few weeks after the ending of the original Gothic. At that time, you had defeated the Sleeper, destroyed the barrier, and freed all of the prisoners of the penal colony under the barrier. Xardas rescued and revived you, but in a severely weakened condition. But there is a new and greater danger that you need to rise and defeat.
The game plays as a third person action game with frankly rather awkward controls. Getting used to those controls is key to success in the game. At this point they are second nature to me – as you will note watching the video.
What is great about this game is the sense of growth and progression in every area. Since it is a RPG you can guess there is leveling, but it is done very differently here than in pretty much every other game. You do gain health points with each level (but sadly not many), but aside from that you only get ‘Learning Points’ that you apply through trainers to learn. You can learn skills and increase your key attributes.
For example, when you first arrive in town you need to become an apprentice of one of the master traders in order to be recognized as a citizen. When you approach one of them and say you are considering being their apprentice, that master will teach you how to skin animals. That is valuable because skins mean gold – which is in short supply early in the game. You get the skill whether or not you choose to be his apprentice – but if you stick with him you get great prices for the skins.
Even before that you will learn a key lesson – this place is dangerous, and you are weak! Xardas tells you not to leave the path because of danger – but anyone who has played an Elder Scrolls game knows, that is a warning you normally ignore since you can beat everything you meet at level 1.
Not in Gothic! Your first encounter will likely be a Goblin who will do significant damage if you are not careful and don’t use fight tactics. You are simply not that powerful yet, and the game does a great job of making you feel weak and timid. As you head further towards town you can wander off the road – to almost certain death! There is a mob that will take you out quickly and two different enemies that will one-hit kill you.
You will eventually choose a ‘faction’ – mercenary, militia or monastery. These will eventually lead you to being a ranger, Paladin or Fire Mage. Each of these brings with it a skill focus – mercenaries get the best weapons and armor, Paladins have a great balance of warrior and priest, and mage scan level enemies with destructive spells. But even mages need to work on their combat skills and dedicate training points there.
Eventually you will have enough gold … but you will never have enough learning points! You gain levels at fixed experience point milestones, and you gain experience by killing enemies and completing quests. The quests you take on are incredibly varied – they can range from taking back a lighthouse from bandits in an incredibly difficult battle, or be as simple as telling a frantic shipbuilder what is going on after you speak with the leaders of the city.
Whereas the first Gothic took place in the Valley of Mines, now you have the Valley as your destination in a couple of chapters, as well as the city of Khorinis and the farms and hills and caves around the city. With Night of the Raven you have an entirely new area that is a blast to explore. There is just tons of content and it always takes me more than 80 hours to complete.
Ease of use/Overall performance: The first time I played Gothic II (I played the sequel before the original), I stopped within 30 minutes – and then tried again a month later and was hooked. What stopped me? The controls were different from any other game, and the difficulty is brutal and unforgiving.
Would use again/recommend?: Definitely! As I said this is one of my all-time favorite games, so I always find something new that I love. For some reason this time I spent so many hours in Chapter 1 before heading back to the Valley that I was reminded again how much content there is available so early in the game.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing
Source: Personal purchase
Here is my hands-on review: