Completed the game - random thoughts
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Completed the game - random thoughts
October 9th, 2009, 18:15
Completed the game at ~40 hours.
These are mixed comments on the game, and isn't necessarily a review. As is usual for my style, it will probably sound too critical so keep in mind that my overall opinion of the game is very high.
Overall, I think it's a great game. I was ready to call it perhaps the best game i've ever played, until around the time I hit chapter 3 - and the game slowly devolved into merely a very good to great game.
The main issue, for me, is that it goes from a near-perfect freeform game, to a relatively rigid linear game WAY too soon. Basically half the game is almost totally on rails barring the rather pointless "choice" of what to do in what order - and the world is simply not large enough or varied enough to go exploring when you're at that stage. It might just be my playstyle, but I have a feeling I've discovered 90-95% of all the secret stuff on my first playthrough. Being reasonably thorough, it's still a big no-no for a game with this HUGE potential to feel as if you've seen what there is to see in the world on your first playthrough way before the end.
Now, don't get me wrong, it's still fantastic and the world is brilliantly realised.
To me, it feels mostly like Gothic 1 - with the difference being more focus on dungeons and the linear aspect of Chapter 3 and beyond.
But with that negative aspect aside, I think the rest of the game is just brilliant. The melee system is truly terrific and I think it's the best of any Gothic so far. It's deep, intricate, and very challenging throughout. But if you take the time to learn each encounter and how it behaves, you eventually master it and you're able to defeat most enemies with relative ease as long as their numbers are limited.
Technically, I think this game blows away EVERY other freeform CRPG. It runs incredibly smoothly and is largely bug-free aside from a handful of dialogue oddities and I encountered 1 or 2 quest related bugs. But beyond that, this game has performed better than the VAST majority of even the most polished games out there. At least on my rig, it rivals a Blizzard title for stability and polish.
The sensation of progress is spot-on and could hardly be better. It's wonderful to start out really weak and then slowly work your way towards being a bad-ass. However, I never really felt I was THAT bad-ass, because the enemies toward the end remain pretty tough and a few slipups will kill you really fast. I'm not sure how it would be for mages (I was 100% fighter bandit camp dude) - but I suspect they might have an easier time. I was beefed up towards the end, and I really didn't have more ways to improve gear/skills and I used up all my attribute potions correctly. Again, I think the problem is that the endgame is simply too long and too big a part of the experience. The world needed more quests that were not tied to the main storyline, and it probably could do with a larger landmass.
The dungeons, while overall great, were too samey ala Gothic. I love puzzles and traps, but really there wasn't enough variety. I prefer dungeons to have multiple settings or atmospheres, so I was pretty disappointed to discover that pretty much all underground content was identical in appearance and was all based on the style of the main antagonists.
The storyline was fine and the NPCs very Gothic-style - which to me is great. I love down-to-earth "realistic" setups much more than over-the-top stuff which we tend to witness in american or japanese style stories. That said, the background lore was too sparse and I felt too many questions were left unanswered.
The engine is really wonderful, and i truly hope the game will be a big success so they can build upon this game. I'm really in awe of the lighting system, for instance, especially during mornings and thunderstorms. It's amazing to watch how everything lights up when lightning strikes. It's really impressive that they got this to run so incredibly smooth with absolutely no stuttering except for minimal ones upon saving. Also, the pause when you save a game is so neglible that it's hard to believe the same guys did Gothic 3 as it's basically the opposite experience. Teleporting was also incredibly fast and comfortable.
If I have one technical niggle, it's the way certain ambient sounds loop profoundly bad. This is especially evident during rainy weather and it can be heard from the moment you start the game on the beach. I fiddled with everything I could, so I think I can rule out it being a problem with my system, and if you listen at the beginning you can clearly hear the "rainy" sound stop and start over all the time, which I found so distracting I had to turn the ambient volume way down.
Overall verdict? Great game and I'd say it's probably the best freeform game when all things are considered. I'd give it 8.8 - and it could have been 9.5 with the problems I mentioned fixed.
Oh, and I loathe the kind of boss fight witnessed at the end - but that's par for the course. I much prefer simply really tough fights - rather than the trial-and-error crap they always throw at you. It wasn't bad, and I only died 3-4 times figuring out the "puzzle" but I could have done without it. Thankfully, I was spared the horde of minor enemies they usually litter the very end-game with, and you face the end boss at the appropriate time, so there is that.
Go buy this now, if you haven't already.
Last edited by DArtagnan; October 11th, 2009 at