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PC Game Review

Gothic Universe


Format: PC
Jowood Games
9 006113 156017
Age Restrictions: 16+
Available 29 February 2008

Begin your journey as the nameless hero in a prison on the island of Khorinis in Gothic 1 and return to the mainland of Myrtana in Gothic 3. Witness the destruction of the magic barrier and the fall of the dragons, investigate the numerous mysteries of Khorinis and determine the struggle between the humans and the Orks. Your doings will affect the fate of the whole empire - for better or for worse... Your destiny and Myrtana’s future are yours to forge...

Finally all of the Gothic games have been released together under the title Gothic: Universe.

If you haven’t played Gothic before the first story starts out with you as an unnamed hero being cast into a part of the world which is covered by a shield on the Island of Khorinis - a sort of medieval gothic land, which works as part prison and part mine. Within this enclosed inhospitable area there are three clans and, whilst you have an overall mission to deliver a message in order to accomplish this, you first have to join one of the three clans. From there on you engage in quests in order to gain experience and equipment.

Though you start off not really knowing how this new world works, gathering information couldn’t be easier, as virtually all the characters you meet are positively verbose. Like most role playing games (RPG) you start off virtually weaponless and weak. Each quest you undertake allows you to progress so that you can take on even harder quests. The system is fairly open ended, which adds to the realism, though, to be honest, it also has one of the main weaknesses of RPG’s, that of the necessity of spending an inordinate amount of time doing smaller quests in order to level up. But lets face it there are enough players like myself who will spend inordinate amounts of time just levelling up and getting better stuff.

Visually the game has some strengths and weaknesses. The third person perspective, in the first game, is okay for running around, but for more close up work this can obscure things that you actually want to look at. The noticeable frame drops add to the frustration. Compared to some more modern games the characters can look a little dated with textures laid onto the frames, given the beautiful visuals in the latter Final Fantasy games Gothic looks positively old school. The world has some nice touches in its backgrounds, but that said much of it is visually very similar.

The worst parts of the game are the controls. Rather than go for a simple point and click system Gothic has gone for an over complicated system of keyboard strikes. This makes equipping a weapon and using it a frustrating experience. Of course that is if you can even work out how the system works as some of the most useful commands aren’t even in the manual. The first time you find the rusty sword, your first useful weapon, you suddenly discover that the makers of the game haven’t told you how to pick it up. There’s nothing in the manual which means you have to search online for the appropriate command. Now that’s unforgivable.

So on the plus you have an enormous open ended game with lots to do and explore, even if it does look a little dated now and we won't even start on the control system and the missing commands from the manual.

Gothic II, and its expansion pack Gothic II: Night of the Raven, are next up and having defeated the Sleeper and gotten out of prison in the first Gothic game you discover that with his dying breath he called forth an army of darkness to blight the land. This time Xardas sends you off to defeat this horde. So, off you go to find the Eye of Innos and gather allies. With the barrier which surrounded the prison down, the game opens up whole new areas for you to explore, including the city of Khorinis, the region covered in the first game still remains there, however it has undergone changes, which makes it reusable, even if you’ve played Gothic I.

Some things have been improved in the second game, now you can pick items up just by a left click of the mouse, though some of the collision routines seem to have gone awry as within the first room I was able to stand inside a book stand and walk straight through Xardas. This added level of interaction extends to all objects in the game. Hooray, we also have a first person perspective, which aids in game play.

That said the visuals still look dated and the voice acting still remains a little dodgy. If you enjoyed Gothic I then the welcome improvements will only increase your enjoyment.

Gothic III takes up the story where Gothic II left it with our hero setting sail across the sea to Myrtana, the possible source of the Orc invasion of Khorinis. Once again this is a very open ended story, so although you find that the Orcs have pretty much subjugated the humans you don’t necessarily have to join them. You can, if you so wish, join the Orcs or nobody. Once more the land is vast and the game play quest based.

For all its faults, many of which are addressed as the series progressed, there is no denying that Gothic, with its three games, is huge both in its ambition and size of the world.


Charles Packer

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