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Gothic II

Published by Atari
Developed by Piranha Bytes
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Released – Out Now
Price : £34.99

Whilst last year saw the release of Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, two crackers it has to be said, this year has been a bit thin on the ground for qualiy RPGs on the PC. Gothic II is of course the sequel to Gothic a highly praised RPG that many still highly regard. .Like Morrowind it’s a single player only game but as we shall see that doesn’t detract from the game at all.

Gothic II carrys on from where Gothic left off. Whilst it’s not essential to have played the first game it will help you to understand what’s going on a little better. The game is set in Khorinis. Your character is bought back from his confinement by Xardas, a necromancer, who wants you to help out Khrorinis. Khrorinis is in a state of turmoil and things are about to get much worse. Attacks from dragons are only a short while away. Only Xardas can see what’s about to happen though but he’s presumed dead and would rather it remain that way. Xardas wants you to help the people of Khrorinis which as it turns out is no easy task.

Gothic II is primarily a third person persective RPG although you can switch to a first person view if you want to but for the most part your view will be behind the character because it makes combat slightly easier and you’re never far from a battle. Combat mechanics are much more comfortable than in Morrowind. You’re able to focus on your enemies and dodge their attacks much easier. At the beginning of the game you have to be careful though as you’re very weak and even a fairly small enemy can spell the end of the game.

There are no set classes as such in Gothic II (although you have to choose between three guilds early in the game and this will determine, to some degree, how you game unfolds) you are allowed to progress as you see fit and one of the major draws with the game is the sheer amount of freedom that you have to do what you want. Some quests are time limited but for the most part you can do what you want, when you want. You could do this in Morrowind but in Gothic II you don’t feel quite so at a loss as you did when you first began Morrowind.

Graphically it’s difficult to give a verdict on Gothic II. Whilst buildings and scenery can look great at times the character models and the trees and plantlife just look inadequate. Gothic II is set in a huge world and just like Morrowind distance fogging is used to prevent bringing the PC to it’s knees. Which brings me to another point. The system requirements for the game are very optimistic to say the least. I played the game with 256MB, 512MB and 1GB RAM. The game I had with the 256MB of RAM was hideous and there were pauses all over the place. Switch to 512MB made things quite a bit better but only with more than 512MB did it feel satisfactory. Even with the right amount of memory you’re still going to need a powerful CPU and meaty graphics card. The GeForce 4 Ti4200 felt like it couldn’t cope with Gothic II at times, even on lower resolutions.

Whilst Gothic II is OK for deaf gamers there are problems. Subtitles can be enabled but there is still speech that remains unsubtitled and occasionally the subtitled speech is slightly different to the spoken word. The text doesn’t remain onscreen as long as it should at times. Short sentences in particular appear and disappear so quickly you’ll be wandering if it actually appeard. On the whole the game is OK but it’s a shame that these niggles exist.

Gothic II will really please fans who enjoyed the first game and gamers who like there RPGs open ended to a certain extent. There are 3 main paths in the game so replayability is assured and therefore the value for money is excellent. It’ll take around 30-40 hours to complete the basic plot and much longer if you decide to do the side quests. There are one or two problems for deaf gamers but overall we have to say this is the first must have RPG of 2003.

Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10
Absorbing and enjoyable. Gothic II is the first must have RPG of 2003.

Deaf Gamers comment:
There are some slight problems for deaf gamers but on the whole it doesn’t stop you enjoying the game.

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