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SummaryA well-executed RPG with a great atmosphere
The GoodI was really surprised with how great this RPG is considering the mix of grumbling and merely moderate praise I'd heard from a number of people. The plot is compelling, and together with the setting creates a great atmosphere. The dialog is well-written (not too goofy or hammy), and the translation is the best of any non-English language game I've played. The mix of open-world level design and NPC schedules really brings the world alive. The graphics were sufficient for my tastes; once I had been playing enough to be sufficiently immersed in the game it never occurred to me that they were somehow dated.
Some of the specific complaints I had heard were regarding the game's combat and keyboard controls. Personally, I think the controls are the best in the series once you hook up a gamepad using a keyboard emulator such as JoyToKey. In comparison, the mouse controls in Gothic III (which admittedly I've only played a little of) seem a lot more cumbersome.
The plot goes something like this: You start out as a convict in a penal colony that has been sealed off from the outside world by a magical barrier. Trapped along with you are some of the mages who initially set up the barrier. Your goal in the game is to, together with one of the several factions you can join, assist the mages in bringing down the barrier and in the process (ostensibly) also regain your freedom. Along the way are some surprises including a dark (but not evil) mage, and a truly evil power vying for control over the world.
The BadOne thing that disappointed me about this game is how linear it becomes toward the end. At this point you are no longer working for the factions you tried so hard initially to join. Instead, you are working for a sort of free agent with his own set of parallel interests. Faction standing no longer matters much and the main quest becomes a series of tasks to be completed in a fixed, linear order. Nevertheless, there's enough variety and new things happening to keep you playing onward to completion.