It must be hard to compete against the twin role-playing game juggernauts that are The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and World of Warcraft.
But Gothic 3 is a low-level noob that manages to stay alive in a fight that would have most RPGs seeing the gameover screen and doing a corpse run.
However, the game is destined to be a cult classic at best.
And I'm not sure whether I'm mad about it.
When you look at most Gothic 3 reviews, be it online or in a magazine, chances are you'll see it compared to only one of the two games I mentioned above.
Unfortunately, the reviewers that compare Gothic 3 to Oblivion are missing the boat. Because Gothic 3 has more in common with WoW.
The combat is real-time rather than a one-click mouse fight, and Gothic 3 is a single-player only RPG, but the MMO connection is deeper than that.
Gothic 3 has the feel of World of Warcraft. It's one of those games that draws a dedicated community, where beating the game is a labor of love. But it also has a similar look to it - there's even the horde and the alliance, even though they aren't called that. Your character, the nameless hero from Gothic 1 and Gothic 2, starts out neutral when he comes to the main land where the game takes place, but he can choose to support the humans (WoW's Alliance) or the orcs (WoW's Horde) or even a neutral third party (WoW's, uh, Tinkerer's Union). He also fights against trolls and other WoW-ish monsters. Heck the game is even made up of three different zones: the forest, desert and tundra.
All right, so maybe some of that was kind of a stretch. But playing is believing. Trust me. If you can manage to pry yourself away from the Burning Crusade for a couple of weeks, MMO addicts will find much to their liking in Gothic 3.
But they'll also find a lot to dislike about the game. There are a couple of game-breaking bugs in it. One of them is the sheer amount of memory you need to play it successfully (2 Gb). The hardware requirements are out of this world, and gamers who don't have the bucks or inclination to buy a new system won't feel the need to do so because of Gothic 3. Another big problem is the faulty stun loop, where players will get attacked by any run-of-the-mill board and find themselves unable to recover before being killed. And then there's the memory leaks, quest glitches and collision errors in the game.
Fortunately, Aspyr has already addressed most of these problems in two patches that have come out since Gothic 3's release. But players who don't have the internet or expect better gaming right out of the box will be left out of the loop, and with $40 worth of trouble on their hands.
Still there's a lot to like with Gothic 3. After two games worth of troubleshooting, the good people at JoWooD Productions (who originated the series) have found the golden ticket for RPG production.
Everything is there. Muchos replay value with three different endings based on which faction you choose to support, and a vibrant life to the NPCs.
All in all, Gothic 3 is worth the hassle - and your money.