Gothic 3, Days 1-3…

Gothic 3, Days 1-3 after the break…

Gothic 3, Days 1-3…

I purchased a shovelware title from Lucasarts about a month or so ago on a whim. I know I shouldn’t have done it but it was on a whim & I hadn’t bought anything serious in a while.

Anyway, I was going to make a series of posts about each title but it turned out that most of the titles were going to have a short lifespan on my computer. To wit –

KNIGHTS OF THE REPUBLIC 1 – This is that console RPG (ported to the PC because we’re just oh-so-interested in playing watered-down dung) that everyone mentally masturbated with when it first debuted. As with most of the shovelware, age has not been kind & especially to a console title back in the day when consoles sat at the kiddie table of graphics.

I just couldn’t get into this RPG no matter how hard I tried & finally gave it the boot. It’s console-origins show quite strikingly in both graphics & gameplay. Sorry, but I like my RPGs with slightly more meat on their bones. Try again.

EMPIRES AT WAR – Really… No. This was the RTS entry for the shovelware. Maybe I’m old-school but even this was too RTS-lite for me to handle. It really didn’t feel like an RTS. If it had been a typical 4X type of RTS, maybe it would’ve stuck around a little longer on my hard drive but I didn’t feel like re-learning how to drive so this was erased very quickly.

JEDI KNIGHT II: JEDI OUTCAST – I had already played this before back when it was shiny & new. Age hasn’t been kind to this product one bit. I thought, ironically, that this would be the one program out of the shovelware titles that would keep on my hard drive the longest but it also had a very short stay before exiting stage left.

BATTLEFRONT I – I must confess that this title honestly surprised me & if I had known that it had a single-player (albeit the multi-player mode but with bots) part, I might’ve given this a serious look back when it was shiny & new. Only recently has this title left my hard drive but only because another title (see below) has popped onto it. The gameplay is nice – Go in, shoot things, the game ends. Nice, happy & active. It will probably find it’s way back onto my hard drive at some point.

SO, after buying my shovelware & being mostly bent out of shape because it really didn’t match the value that I had paid for it, I was a bit hesitant to purchase another game anytime soon. Of course, stick a moth close enough to a fire & it’s only a matter of time before you smell the stench of singed wings.

Following the PC gaming world as best as this aging gamer can, I followed the “Oblivion-Gothic” wars until it was obvious that Oblivion was the one that would make the big splash while Gothic made the big thud.

To recap – Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (usually just referred to as “Oblivion”) is a first-person role-playing game (RPG) set in a medieval fantasy setting. Gothic 3 is also a first person RPG set in a very similar setting (fantasy medieval). Both came out roughly at the same time but one (Gothic) is primarily an European franchise & the other (Oblivion) is an American one.

At any rate, I had bought Gothic 2 & it’s expansion earlier back in time at discount & it promptly chewed up my computer & spit it out. Also, the graphics were on the wrong side of bad. So, my feelings towards Gothic were not very high at this particular moment.

Gothic 3 didn’t exactly help itself out &, depending on who you believe, the drama unfolded like so – The developer needed more time & the publisher didn’t give the developer more time & so the publisher shipped a crappy product that everyone hated (see: Ultima IX: Ascension). The developer didn’t like the publisher for shipping a crappy product & the two had a big spat & after a patch or two, they both parted ways. I don’t have a horse in this race so if you want to pick sides, feel free. The fans of the franchise stepped in & made a HUGE community patch called 1.72 that supposedly makes the game playable. Want more? Turn to Wikipedia.

However, Oblivion & it’s much-touted “Radiant AI” (Oh please don’t tell me the gaming public has a flea-like attention span) flopped rather brilliantly in a critical sense but, like a Michael Bay film, absolutely cleaned house at the cash register for no other reason then you could spend hours adjusting your character’s nose & eyebrows so that they were “just so.”

To speed things along, I noticed the tin-box collector’s edition of Gothic 3 in the store for $19.99. Yeah, I’m sure someone could find it online for only 6 cents but I don’t buy things on line because that’s the one time some hacker from Brazil would steal my credit card info. Therefore, pardon my technophobic butt if I purchase things the old-fashioned way. Efficient? No, but I haven’t seen any wacky strange charges on my credit card statements, either.

Anyway, “Collector’s Tin” meant also getting the Gothic 3 expansion, the soundtrack CD & a behind-the-scenes DVD which is now probably amusingly ironic given how this product shipped in legendary buggy condition.

I was going to comment about how wonderfully oblivious Gamestop tends to be with customer service & how their stellar lack of it almost killed the sale of this item to myself but I’ll refrain if only to speed things along. In short: Don’t lie to me, you f***tards. I’m not a 14-year old with the attention span of a flea who is addicted to pr0n & Red Bull. Treat me with respect & honesty & I’ll do the same for you.

Anyway, I have the wonderful product. I go home &, knowing just how deliciously buggy this software is, find out about the mega-uber-community patch that the fans have created for it. This patch is not small – patch 1.72 weighs in at 888 MB (That’s .888 Gigs). That’s a big boy.

So, day 1 was ogling over the idea of downloading nearly 1 gig of patch to play this game. Not fun.

Day 2 was installing the game & then installing the patch. All in all, a fairly painless effort. Apparently, part of the uber-ultra-mega patch is a complete re-working of the combat system as much as they could short of stealing the source code & re-writing it from scratch. OK. I’ll look into that later.

So, let’s enter the game. First off, Gothic 3 snubs it’s nose at Oblivion in one obvious way: You can walk into cities & villages & stuff like that without load zones. Wow. I hail from an Oblivion-centric point of view because that’s the first of the two games that I played. In Oblivion, everything is a zone – There really isn’t an “outside” & an “inside” of a house because they are really two entirely separate worlds. The outside of the house could be a shack & the inside of the house could be a mansion. You can do that because they are separate from each other. Not so in Gothic: You can walk into the house with nary a load. That’s nice. Granted, there are no doors. Hmmm.

I can see why “Gothic 3” & “Great Combat System” will never be in the same sentence without a certain level of snickering & poor attempts at keeping a stiff upper lip. Quite simply, I have turned on God Mode to Gothic 3 because the combat system is a hair shy of terrible which is close enough to me to say “No more” to the venture that is fair playing.

Example time – Attempt to back up & attack your opponent who is in front of you. Did you see what happened? You turned around to face the back now. Congratulations, your opponent has now killed you. Re-load. Also, you can’t just kill orcs (the main bad guys in Gothic) like you would other creatures. Oh no. Too easy. Instead, you have to perform a “kill move” on the orcs after they’ve fallen to the ground. Without performing the kill move, the orcs will just lie unconscious on the ground for awhile, then get back up & fight you some more. Doesn’t that make a whole lot of sense? Here’s the hint: No, it doesn’t.

Until I learned about the whole world map thingie, I actually gave some props to Gothic for having a more realistic map system. Let’s face it; There’s no arrow in real life on a map. You have a map, a compass & a heading. Go. So, I was confused for a while as to where the villages of Cape Dun, Reddock & Ardea were. Silly me.

Gothic 3’s landmass appears to be much larger then the “boundary” version of Oblivion (in Oblivion, the landmass is bigger then the available playing field, necessitating the need for an “invisible wall” preventing you from going past a certain area where the designers didn’t intend for you to travel).

I’ll get back to this later. I didn’t realize this post would turn out to be so large.

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