Gothic 2 is a bit of a misleading title. The game doesn't involve supernatural 18th century literature, it doesn't include excessively spikey buildings and more importantly it doesn’t include pale young women in skimpy black dresses, wearing boots that are double their height and an "I am Goth see me pout" look on their faces. OK. it is a bit supernatural in the way that a lot of RPGs are, and we can’t really fault the "II" part, as it’s the sequel to the original Gothic from German developers Piranha Bites. So we’ll let them off.
Unsurprisingly, the second game picks up exactly where the original left off. Those of you who played the first Gothic will know that at the end of the first game you were buried underneath a pile of rubble and things weren’t looking too rosy in the breathing in and out department. At the start of Gothic II you get a lucky break, as you’re resurrected by your old wizard mentor, who cheerily reports that the foe you thought you’d vanquished in the original game has in fact come back for round two.
Be Off With Thee
So off you trundle into the world of Khorinis (look, we don’t make these names up, OK?) to try and seek out a few answers and smite whatever foes may be lurking in the bushes. And there's plenty to kill as well, since the magical dome, which held a prison colony in the first game, has now been destroyed, letting all sorts of reprobates into the community. As with the original game, you don't start as a specific character. Instead, you develop gradually into one of three classes - mage, paladin and dragon slayer - through the decisions you make during the game. Developing your character’s stats isn’t handled in the same point-sharing way as many RPGs either. You earn "learning points" as you gain experience from completing quests and killing enemies, but you can't just pour these points into any old stat - you have to find someone who's willing to teach you a given skill (usually for a price or a favour) and increase your stats that way.
Huge Tracts Of Land
If you thought Gothic was huge then Gothic II is the Martin Korda bicep of gaming - an estimated five times larger than the original. You can meander through the world for hours in a very Morrowind style way, with the full day and night cycle changing around you and the rain soaking your tunic. However, the graphics seem rather rough around the edges at present, so here’s hoping they get fully optimised for the final version, as the environments have a great deal of potential and atmosphere.
We know there are many of you out there hotly anticipating this title, as you've written in to tell us how much you liked the original. Well at least three of you did. It will certainly be interesting to see if Gothic II can hold its own against the superb line-up of RPGs that have been released since its predecessor appeared. Although it might be coming from the back of the class, from what we’ve seen Gothic II is shaping up to be an enjoyable bout of role-playing goodness.
Download Gothic 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It's not hard to get an eerie feeling of deja vu after playing this, the sequel to Piranha Byte's often overlooked roaming RPG. Acting as a stopgap before the arrival of the better-known The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the first Gothic didn't stand much of a chance in the wake of that title's hype. A shame really, because it was a good effort with some cracking scenery; the enormous pastoral landscapes that covered the original's confined setting were a real sight to behold.
Unfortunately, the game as a whole was let down by a lack of focus and a slow-moving difficulty curve, and while the sequel addresses some points of contention, in more ways than one it still invites some of the same criticisms.
Let's talk landscape first, since this is one of the game's best points. Gorgeous and twice as big as the first, strolling around the rolling landscape, glancing at the setting sun glint around the wooded glades, carping askew thy swamps and clifftops - it really brings out the William Wordsworth in me. (William Shatner, more like - Ed.) Your initial quest sees you foraging with no reason to go beyond a relatively small area -still huge, mind - so you'll often find yourself impressed when you take a wander off the beaten track. A little strolling before typing this, for instance, and I came across a whacking great temple in a valley I'd never seen before. All praise must go to the map designers who've managed to come up with a world that feels natural and varied enough not to become repetitive. And it's all been done without the intermittent immersion-breaking loading times of Morrowind. Exploring is a real treat, especially when you find something totally new. However, with the only form of transport being your two feet, not even the most picturesque of locations can relieve the tedium of some of the longer journeys.
Along Winding Road
Don't expect to walk around willy-nilly from the off, either. It may be a non-linear experience, but wander down the wrong path and you won't last long, because it's bloody hard.
Despite being set only a couple of weeks after your first adventure, your hero seems to have lost all knowledge of his skills and most early encounters lead to certain death.
As you'd expect, fighting brings with it experience, and you'll need plenty of the latter before you even think about facing up to the bigger creatures. Unfortunately, while the combat system's been given a little workout, it's still the weakest part of the game. While hacking away at one enemy isn't a problem, get into a fight with more opponents and the poor targeting system makes it difficult to focus your attacks. Running away, too, proves harder, as you often get twisted into facing a direction you don't want to go in. Best to stand back with a bow or let them come to you individually and pick them off one by one.
That may be a good way to up your levels but it's a laborious task. Entertainment requires supplementing it with quests and, again, like the first Gothic, there's a lot to get through before you feel like you're getting anywhere.
Hack 'n' Slash
Your first real task is to retrieve an important artefact, which can only be achieved by becoming a member of the militia, which can only be achieved by becoming a citizen, which can only be achieved by getting the approval of the tradesmen, which can only be achieved by pleasing their needs and so on. So much so, that you soon forget what the first point was as you run around trying to please . minor NPCs to up your stats.
However, the level of immersion and the feeling of involvement within the gaming world benefits Gothic greatly, and it's not too long before you start to feel a genuine part of this RPG's world. However, the above method isn't the only way to go about discovering new things, though. : Other quests give you the opportunity to choose a path that eventually culminates in a guild and career of your choice. With experience points and cash being so valuable, you're best spreading yourself around in order to have a decent chance of levelling up. To this end, it constantly feels as if you're slowly chipping away at the edges of the game instead of making a beeline through it. The main plot revolves around an army of orcs and dragons threatening the land, yet don't expect to see anything of this for a long time as you try to earn enough points to handle a sword effectively. While some of you may find this infuriating, there are benefits, such as countless hours of gameplay. In fact, the more you put in, the more Gothic II will give you in return. Deja vu again. To forge mindlessly ahead with the main plot would be missing everything else there is to see and you never reach tolerance point before some new quest or plot-twist starts to address itself.
The Beat Goes On
After the interface improvements and a graphical upping, it really is much the same game on a bigger scale, and forthat reason alone it surpasses its predecessor. While there's nothing conspicuously new in structure, Piranha Bytes has spent time tidying the game up to make this a definitive continuation. It's a respectable RPG and those of a more patient nature should really warm to it as it features a glorious circumstance of graphics and gameplay along with a confluence of exploration and experience points. In other words: looks great, plays fine.