The three games in the Gothic series are unlike any other RPGs out there
I remember the first time I played Gothic 1 and it wasn’t a good first impression. The controls felt awkward, the buttons were all over the keyboard, and I really wanted Diego’s sword. After numerous attempts to knock him out bare fisted, I finally gave up and headed toward the town. I realized pretty quickly that this game would not be a walk in the park because I was instantly killed by some scavengers, a weak, low level monster. Finding shelter within the walls of the town, the world of Gothic instantly came alive. Nearly everyone had a name and you could interact with them. The inhabitants went about their day sitting by the fire, sparring with one another, walking around, and going to their respective homes to sleep at night. The AI had a similar feel to Shenmue, in the fact that you felt like a visitor in their world, observing the lives of these people, as opposed to some games where the CPUs just stand their, waiting for you to interact with them. They reacted to you and to their surrounds as you would to them. It had taken me a while to warm up to Gothic, but it was turning out to be an interesting game.
Gothic starts your character out weaker than I had every seen before, you can barely survive in the beginning, and that’s what makes it so great. Every gold coin, item, or weapon you pick up feels like treasure and I couldn’t wait to sell items to buy a weapon and some decent armor. Certain characters in the game can train you in certain skills, like swords, axes, hunting, and magic but you can’t have everything in Gothic, picking what you want to specialize in is key, because skill points are few and far between.
Gothic is a true medieval RPG, the world is gritty and dangerous; the inhabitants of the few towns are mercenaries or ex-soldiers willing to get their hands dirty for a few gold. Some become your friends and allies, like Gorn, Diego, and Milton, while many more will become your enemy. The world of Gothic just beckons to be explored, but you have to be prepared, because this isn’t some turn-based RPG, if you make a mistake in battle, chances are you’ll have to load your game.
Gothic 2 took everything from the first game and added new elements that made it even more exceptional. My absolute favorite part of the game is getting to the first town, going into every building, talking to every person, and completing every quest. You aren’t allowed in by the guards standing watch the the gate, you can either help out a farmer and deliver his goods, or you can search for a lowered section of the town wall. Not only are the graphics greatly improved, but the area is huge and populated with dense forest, mountains, rivers, and caves. Gothic games have a uniquly difficult element to controlling the character which actually makes the games more strategic; going head to head with a much stronger enemy will most likely get you killed, you have to use some cunning in attacking more powerful enemies. Using long range weapons along with close ranged are the most effective ways to defeat creatures like the shadowbeast or troll. The idea of factions come into play, just like they did with the first game; you can choose to become a paladin, a hunter, or a mage, with each class sporting their own strengths and weaknesses.
While Gothic 1 and 2 were terrific games, Gothic 3 blew them both away. Graphical, Gothic 3 outclasses other games that came out in 2004, the year it was released, although Piranha Bytes didn’t iron out all the kinks until a couple years later. The sheer size of the world is both staggering and overwhelming, which could actually be a turn off to many players, since few could comprehend ever beating it, especially if you complete a fair amount of quests. The game begins where Gothic 2 left off and the mainland is not how you remembered it. Orcs have taken over most of the cities and towns and many humans have sided with them and become mercenaries for the orcs. You can choose whether to side with the orcs or humans, as well as the desert natives to the south. The world is gorgeous and takes a life of its own with tall grass swaying in the breeze, human rebels sharpening their weapons in the mid day sun, and herds of animals running along the plains.
The Gothic series is an epic journey no fan of RPGs can miss and it will be stuck in your mind long after you beat it, the game is no walk in the park so a final cutscene is a well deserved reward; not to mention the characters you’ve met in the first game who have fought beside you to the end.