Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods (PC)

System Requirements:
Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/XP64
Pentium 4 or AMD CPU 2GHz or equivalent
4.6GB HDD space
Direct3D compatible graphics card with at least 128MB RAM and Shader Model 1.4 support
DirectX 8.1 compatible sound
Rated Teen by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Drugs, and Violence

Thank you to JoWood Productions for sending us a copy of this game.

Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods is a stand alone expansion pack to JoWood Production\'s 2006 release, Gothic 3. It is intended to be the bridge between Gothic 3 and Gothic 4. The Gothic series is about a Nameless Hero who has saved the land of Myrtana several times. This time, not long after the events of Gothic 3, he has returned once again to reunite the various regions of Myrtana. It is currently being led by many different leaders; some are involved in petty squabbles, while others are staging war. Some are working with the Orcs, while other leaders are against them. Your job is to bring peace and stop the fighting.

This game is a 3D RPG, usually played in the third person, though first person is also available. It is also in real time, where you can see the time of day change, where people are many times in a different place day or night, and when enemies attack, be prepared to defend yourself, or run. This game is probably closest to the Elder Scrolls style; you have an open world to explore, with a lot of side quests, and plenty of monsters to take care of. While you can choose to explore and take the main quest at your own pace, this game is surprisingly linear, in that most quests are not available until previous ones are finished, and most of the quests revolve around or somehow help continue the main story line. I have only played this game in the Gothic series, so whether or not this is true for the rest I cannot say, though if forum posts on their official forum are any indication, this game is much more linear than other entries.

Your character is a rather assertive man, and seems to believe that every able bodied man should be a part of the war effort to bring peace to Myrtana. Though he is not short on muscles, you can also choose to make him a powerful mage or skilled thief if you so desire. When you complete quests, you gain large sums of experience. You can also gain experience by killing, though a much smaller amount relatively speaking. As you gain levels, you are given skill points that you can spend in any way you wish. You can directly raise base stats like life, endurance, and mana at various shrines, and you can raise attributes, and sometimes skills, from trainers. These include strength, hunting, alchemy, ancient knowledge, thieving, and smithing. You can also gain skills like being able to use larger weapons, make your spells more powerful, improve weapons and armor through smithing (and even make your own), improve your lockpick or pickpocketing abilities, make powerful potions, and more. It\'s a pretty interesting system that does allow you to make a fairly diverse character, though I was not able to master every skill, and I am not sure that it can be done, so you do have to choose wisely.

The characters are interesting at times, though they are somewhat inconsistent. With so many people, it\'s surprising that so many have nothing to say. Very few have much to say other than standard audio greetings unless they have a specific name. Even though this is not uncommon, it was a bit more than you typically expect. This world, with all of its population, felt remarkably empty at times. It was also surprising to find that a voice that you may hear walking by a character will not necessary even be close to what they sound like when you talk to them. It especially struck me as odd when you hear this big, tough guy Orc all of the sudden sound like a wimpy little pipsqueak when you start to talk to them. Another odd behavior is that once you have a conversation, you often can\'t engage with them again until you complete whatever quest you need, and once that\'s done, they join the conversation-less drones around them. It helps make it clear if there is a quest to be had nearby, but it definitely detracts from any feeling of life the game world may otherwise portray.

The world is of a decent size, and looks fairly pretty with the exception of some drawing bugs. While playing this game on my fairly powerful gaming rig (3.2GHz quad, 8GB RAM, 8800GT SLI) the game ran fine, though not particularly smooth. I would be surprised if a system with specifications closer to the recommended still had an enjoyable play experience. Another thing that I should point out is that this game seems to expect you to have played Gothic 3 already. There are no instructions that I noticed (and certainly nothing printed), so certain things, like how to learn spells, I had to learn by accident.

Combat is fairly fluid, and in real time. You strike your enemies with your weapons directly, and while arming a bow or casting a spell, you see your projectile head for and impact your target. Strikes made to you or your enemies can sometimes knock them back, which leads to one of the more irritating \'features\' of this game. A small group of wolves or other low level creatures can take out even the most well armed warrior because you simply can\'t react when being struck. This results in a more duck and weave game play style, where avoiding getting hit is more important than striking your opponent, and taking out certain enemies at a distance or drawing them away is paramount. Ironically enough, there are a handful of enemies, like ice & fire golems, where if you don\'t have the right spells, you can run up to them and melee them to death since they won\'t be able to attack because they are being stunned, and they are slow to attack. So this rule does work both ways, but more often than not it works against you instead of for you. It\'s not all bad, but something to keep in mind while in battle.

The music in this game is really pretty great. That or I am a sucker for moving, orchestral pieces. In either case, I found myself turning up my speakers to be sure that I could hear it. Combat and enemy sound effects are sufficient, and do pretty much what you expect. Voices are tolerable, but bugs often prevent them from being audible, or the text sometimes does not match what you hear. And as I mentioned before, character voices outside of a conversation often do not match their voice in a conversation.

Which brings me to the general issue of bugs. So many a good (or even great) game has been ruined by them, and sadly this is yet another example. Issues range from general graphical bugs, to quest breaking or game ending ones. An example of the graphical kind is that the first person view is almost unusable as there can be large black streaks obstructing your view. Another is where on certain characters I saw 2 heads. Both overlapped the head position when standing, and if they were sitting, there would be a second head floating in the air. There are also typos. A perfect example is where one location called Cape Dun can be spelled Kape Dun or Kap Dun depending on where you read it. I have also seen cases where items, or even skills are missing text. There are also some rare cases where characters or items still have what is clearly a programmer name attached to them, like item_04. Other funny bugs are when during a conversation, sometimes clearly the opposite person should be talking, or when the choice you select is spoken by the other person. The funniest thing was when you were talking to a particular wizard character, and the response was heard as a bark. Yes, a bark, like a dog! I also experienced graphical flickering here and there; in particular the lighting had problems for me. Little things, like skeletons bleeding when hit, lower immersion, but were not significant. There are also occasional pathfinding bugs, so if you are escorting someone, you better keep an eye on them.

Those minor bugs above could be tolerated if they were the only ones. Unfortunately, there are quest breaking bugs as well. One minor example is where one character asks for Nordmarian armor, but what she really wants to complete the quest is Paladin armor. That was a little frustrating, until I found the answer on the JoWood forum. There are a couple of times where I had to kill someone to trigger the request to kill that person.. again using the forum for guidance, or where I completed a quest without receiving it in similar fashion. The real killer bugs are in the form of a couple nasty ones near the end of the game. One is where in order to talk to a required character in order to progress in the main quest, you have to go <u>beyond the area of the map</u> using a cheat code to have a certain important conversation. The map areas were actually inherited from the original Gothic 3, so there is some code in place beyond the edges of the map that still exists, and that is where this important character is. He is behind an \'invisible wall\' that is used to keep you within the boundaries of the game world. If that wasn\'t enough, I had to summon this character with a cheat code to proceed to the last area.. and then, I experienced my third breakage where a character who had to talk to me to trigger the end would not trigger. Everything was in place, and.. I could not complete the game. There was another time earlier on where a quest important character just stopped working, and I had to load several hours of game play in order to get past it, then it happened again right at the end of the game. I have to say, I am really disappointed.

The version of the game I played was 1.06, or the second patch. That is the last version of the game that was save game compatible with the retail release. The 1.07 and 1.08.9 patches both require fresh starts in order to get the benefits of the changes, or to even load the old saves at all. As a result, I cannot test those improvements without starting over, which I am not prepared to do at this time. If I ever do so in the future, I\'ll post an update here. Nevertheless, there is some hope that these or future patches will solve many of these issues now or in the future. Thankfully, the game only crashed on me once.

Another area of major concern is appropriateness. Characters use the word \'d*mn\' often. There are also \'water pipes\' spread throughout the game that are clearly water bongs.. when you smoke them, you get healed, and you see colored smoke come out of the pipe. There are various quests related to booze, where you fetch some for someone, for example. Stealing only rarely had a negative effect, and I never noticed anyone get upset about you robbing their house outside of the first town, though that is probably more of a bug than an appropriateness issue. There are a few cases where your character gets to deal with adultery, and it\'s usually the woman doing so. At least two different times a wife cheated on a husband, and once results in the murder of that woman (it\'s a quest) while another time he died for a different reason. You are also propositioned to once that I can remember, though thankfully your character turns her down (you are not given a choice). Not to mention that this game takes place in a fantasy world, where you and your opponents can use magic, and in order to learn spells you need to bow before an alter and give an offering of money to one of a few gods (or some higher being). All in all, I\'m a little surprised it\'s only rated Teen, though I suppose it\'s more the exception to fight a human opponent; nevertheless, I do not recommend this game for younger players.

Overall, Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods is what could have been a good game ruined by execution. If you are already a fan of the Gothic series, and you want another experience in the world of Myrtana, then give this a go with the latest patches, hoping for the best. If you are looking for a lower priced RPG, this could fit the bill. But with appropriateness concerns, on top of bug upon bug, not to mention that this game seems to expect you to have played Gothic 3 to begin with, I can\'t recommend this one to newcomers. Nevertheless, there is some decent game play buried beneath all of this for those prepared to deal with its problems.

Appropriateness Score:

Violence 5/10
Language 7/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 6/10
Occult/Supernatural 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 6/10

Appropriateness Total: 29/50

Game Score:
Game Play 12/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound/Music 8/10
Stability/Polish 2/5
Controls/Interface 3/5

Game Score Total: 32/50

Overall: 61/100

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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