Gothic 4 was a purchase on a whim. I had a few days to burn until Fallout New Vegas came out and I was looking for something that would keep me occupied over the weekend. I had known about it for a couple weeks but didn't expect much from it. While at Gamestop, it caught my eye and I decided to give it a try. About a week later, I'm still playing the game and enjoying it immensely. It's got it's problems but nothing that kills it for me. Hit the jump to see my first impressions of Arcania: Gothic 4.
From what I understand, the Gothic series is pretty big in the UK but never really hit home in the states. We've gotten the games before but they usually received mediocre reviews with little fanfare. So, before it ever hit shelves, Gothic 4 had that going against it. Plus, throw in the fact that you probably never heard of it before me telling you (unless you're an RPG buff) and the game could float away into obscurity. If that happened, no one would notice, but you should. Why should you care about this game? Because it's not half bad and if you have taken a liking to games such as Oblivion - third person RPG's with swords, spells, and quests - you may very well find yourself enjoying it.
The game begins with a no named character who is a shepherd in a small island village. His wants to marry his girlfriend but her father forbids it. So, the father sends the man on three trials which basically teach you game mechanics. After your final trial and subsequent approval from the father in law to be, you and your betrothed make plans to set sail for the main land to go explore for their honeymoon. As you set out to meet your friend Diego who will transport you to the mainland, the village is attacked by an mad King's paladins as they ravage across the lands looking for a mythical shrine in the mountains that has some sort of holy forge. Tragedy strikes and your betrothed is dead and you are left with a burning hatred in your heart. Diego, who also survived the attack, informs you that he will take you to the mainland to search for this mythical shrine to keep it away from the mad King and to get your vengeance...and with that, Arcania: Gothic 4 begins.
The story isn't the games strongest point but that doesn't mean it's not manageable. The characters are a little dry and there are plenty of issues with the text (some not matching what's being said and others not making much sense) but the story isn't bad as a whole. It continues the story and gives you clear objectives to complete. You will always know what you need to be doing and in most cases, where you need to go to do it.
The gameplay, as I mentioned earlier, is a lot like Oblivion. It's not as detailed or open world as Oblivion and the quests are more straightforward, but the gameplay and the way you deal with villagers is the same. You will begin the game (after the tutorial) by going to a village and completing quests. You will have one main quest and a couple side quests. They can all be completed together since the world isn't too big, but you can skip the side quests if you don't want to be bothered. When you finish the main quest, you usually get some nice armor of the region (for your specific class) and then you can move on to the next village where you will rinse and repeat. Each stop at a village brings you one step closer to finding out about this temple with the forge in the mountains.
There aren't classes in the game, but you can sort of make your own. For instance, there are three types of "classes" you can make along with any combination of them. I usually go with melee characters so my guy has a shield, a one handed sword, and the heaviest armor. I could have also gone with a ranger type class and used leather armor with bows and knives. Finally, there is a mage type class that wears robes and dishes out spells. Each time you level up, you will be able to choose from a pool of talents where you would like to grow your character. There are health and strength for warrior type classes, precision and agility type talents for the rangers/rogues, and all manner of spells for the caster. This allows you to create a unique character and play any way you wish.
The graphics in Gothic 4 aren't that great. It's workable, but it won't be turning you head as you cross a vista or walk into a valley for the first time. I even caught the occasional pop in of grass trees while running through a zone. Don't let this deter you from the game though. It's not broken by any means, just not up to snuff with some of the AAA titles you see on the market.
Combat in Gothic 4 depends on your "class" that you have chosen. I wield my sword and shield so I do a lot of hacking and slashing. I also have access to my bow and magic spells by hitting the RT or RB respectively. If you played a character other than the warrior, you would rely on one of these instead of the sword and just use your melee weapon as a backup. The combat is streamlined nicely and you can hit LT to target an enemy, bringing up it's health bar and auto locking onto it so you can keep up with it's movements. Enemies dead bodies can be looted and you can keep/sell anything you find in the world, much like in other open world games.
I have to say, I'm kind of shocked by this game. I didn't expect it to be as enjoyable as it is. I thought it would be one of those games you play for a weekend and then trade in because it doesn't have the depth to keep you occupied. That's definitely not the case. Arcania: Gothic 4 is actually a pretty good tale that has fulfilling combat and a nicely fleshed out world to keep you busy. Don't go into it expecting to to find the next Oblivion. If you do, you'll be upset. Instead, look at it as a smaller developers attempt to create something new in an already overflowing game type. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
yes: I recommend this product