126 of 142 people found the following review helpful
Not Gothic, not good,
This review is from: ArcaniA: Gothic 4 - PC (Video Game)
Several years ago I wrote my first review of a pc game here on Amazon. It was a review of Gothic 3, which I declared to be the worst game I had ever played. I now have to retract that claim. Gothic 3 may have been so buggy it was nigh on unplayable, but at least there was a somewhat enjoyable game buried under all those bugs. This game, however, is not enjoyable in any way. There is no chance that future bug fixes will ever make this a decent game. Unlike my experience with Gothic 3, this time around I wasn't expecting anything great. I would have settled for mediocre. I thought surely it couldn't be worse than Gothic 3. I was wrong. There are many, many reasons why this is not only unworthy to carry the name "Gothic," but also why it is a terrible game in its own right. Here is a very brief list.
1. First and foremost, it is the most linear RPG I have ever played. Even admittedly linear RPGs like KOTOR at least let you select the order in which you complete some of the areas. This game is a straight line, and there is nothing you can do that will change anything that happens in the game world. There is literally not a single choice your character can make that has any noticeable effect on the game world. Every time you play the game everything will happen exactly the same way. I have never seen a game with less replay value. Gone are the guilds/factions from previous Gothic games. Gone is any actual role playing element in the game. You can't even attack any NPCs for crying out loud! If you blatantly steal their belongings from right under their noses, they don't even care. You literally have no effect on the world outside of the narrow, pre-scripted route the game designers wrote for you. You move from one little enclosed area to the next, and are prevented from moving on to the next area until you complete the five or six quests in the current area, after which there is no reason to ever go back to earlier areas.
2. There is no exploration allowed in this game. The main selling point of Gothic, at least in my opinion, was the combination of the open-ended RPG elements and the ability to explore the huge game world and find new things each time you played. This game literally punishes you for exploring. They took away the ability to climb, and the developers placed slopes, rocks, and cliffs all along the paths across the island to prevent you from leaving the narrow strip of land bordering the paths. The world looks large, but you're only actually allowed to use a small portion of it. If you try to go anywhere off the paths that has the slightest bit of slope (keep in mind that this entire game takes place on a mountainous island) you lose control (as in you literally have no control over him) of your character while he skates along the ground being pulled back and forth by some invisible force until he gets back to level ground. His feet don't move during this odd phenomenon (which happens quite frequently), and he looks like he's ice skating. He constantly gets stuck while doing this, and you have to load a previous save. If you try to explore somewhere near water, you just die (literally, you fall down dead). And if, by some miracle, you actually manage to get somewhere off the beaten path and find a cave, you can't get in it, because they're locked and you can't get in them until the point in the game the developers decided it would be appropriate for you to be able to go in them. The game is filled with quest-specific areas that you can't enter until you get the right quest, so exploration is a complete waste of time. Did I mention the invisible walls they placed everywhere? There are tons of them. They really, really don't want you to go off of their scripted path.
3. The leveling system is so dumbed down it is almost non-existent. Gone is your ability to place your skill points into strength, dexterity, etc. All you get to do is use their new skill "tree," though it's more like eight straight lines than a tree. Nothing branches into new options. You simply get a choice of putting points into your power attack, flurry attack, precision, bow skill, sneaking, a fire spell, an ice spell, or shock spell. That's right, the game has a grand total of three learnable spells. They just get a little better every time you put more points into them. None of the combat skills are even necessary, since the combat in the game is so worthless that you can defeat any enemy right from the start. Which brings me to the next point.
4. It is beyond easy. There are four difficulty settings. Easy, normal, hard , and Gothic. Yes, that's right. Their game is so dumbed down from the previous Gothic games that they called their extreme difficulty setting the "Gothic" setting. Even on the Gothic setting it is way, way too easy. They put in this new roll move, and you're expected to just roll all around during combat. The problem with this (besides looking stupid) is that it's very overpowered. You just roll out of the way every time the enemy is going to hit you (which you can see in advance because for some reason they exude red or green smoke when they're about to hit you), and you never take any damage. All you do the whole game is attack a few times, roll away, attack a few times, roll away, etc. It's extremely boring and repetitive. And once you get a shock spell, it gets even easier. Then you just shoot a spell at them and it stuns them for a few seconds, during which you hit them a few times, then you cast the spell again and repeat. By that point you don't even need the overpowered roll anymore. I only died in combat three times during the entire game. On the hardest difficulty setting. Without ever drinking a potion, using a shield, or buying a single thing from the various vendors during the entire game. There was simply no need. It doesn't even get any harder as the game goes on, because the enemies you fight are scaled to your ability. The enemies themselves aren't scaled, but they only place enemies of certain levels in each area. Since the game is so linear that they know exactly what level you'll be in each area, the difficulty stays the same during the whole game because the enemies are always the same level as yourself, though the increase in enemies with ranged attacks later in the game would probably make it slightly more difficult if you were playing as a straight melee fighter. The ridiculously stupid AI doesn't help either. They always do their power attacks, which take about four or five seconds to charge up. They attack wherever you were when they started charging their attack, and by the time they actually get around to attacking that spot, you're standing behind them hitting them in the back. If I'm making it sound like you just breeze through, you don't. You never die, but it still takes forever to defeat everything. You just click and click and click and click and click...
5. The NPCs are atrocious. There are actually only a few different NPC designs, but each one has about thirty clones dressed in different clothes and with different hair spread throughout the game. On top of that, the voice acting and dialogue are both terrible. The scripted dialogue is insultingly stupid, and most of the very little dialogue in the game is just filler. And when they try to move the plot (which is an extremely blatant rip-off of the Théoden storyline in Peter Jackson's version of the Lord of the Rings) along, it's like reading a badly scripted soap opera. I'm pretty sure it was written either by or for Jr. High students who had just watched The Two Towers. The voice acting for these dialogue lines is mostly bad. Some are decent, but many are so bad it's painful. The voices range from understandably uninterested to outrageously hammy, and all of it is set to some of the worst lip syncing I've seen since the 90s. On top of that, the game goes into a cutscene every time you talk to someone. Every single time. Apparently they can't talk anywhere but the exact spot the conversation was scripted to take place in, so every time you try to talk to someone it always goes to a cutscene of you talking at that scripted spot, teleporting you there to do it. It becomes even more ridiculous than usual when you have a conversation involving more than one NPC, because it has to shift to a new cutscene for each character's line.
6. It has a lot of technical issues. Not nearly as many as Gothic 3, but enough to be really, really annoying. To start with, it lags. A lot. I have a pretty nice gaming pc, and can play any other game on the highest settings, but I can't even play this one on low without getting lag. They acknowledged that the game doesn't perform well, and released a hotfix to improve performance, but that still didn't fix it. It's not too bad in most places, but in any cities it slows to a crawl and borders on unplayable. The slight bit of lag you get even in outdoor areas makes any ranged weapons useless, as you can't aim well enough because of the lag. Thankfully their hit detection is terrible for spells, so as long as you get your spell in the general vicinity of an enemy it will hit it. Unfortunately the same goes for enemies attacking you. There are lots of annoying little gameplay issues like your screen turning red when you get down to half your health (is that really necessary? Couldn't it be like other games and only do it when you're just down to a few hitpoints instead of half your heath?), the camera you can't control that likes to zoom way out during combat so you can't see what you're doing, the huge red exclamation points that appear over anyone that is related to or can give you a quest, the useless map, the appalling lockpicking minigame (which consists of clicking at the right time while watching a slideshow of lock silhouettes), the inability to map the middle mouse button (or any of other mouse buttons on a gaming mouse), and the failure to include any anti-aliasing.
7. Finally, there is the complete disregard for any of the previous Gothic games. Only a handful of the characters from the original Gothic games make an appearance, and they are nothing like what they were before. They don't look or sound like them at all, especially Milten and Lester. This game has nothing to do with the previous Gothic games. All they did was use a couple character names and take the title to try to cash in on its fan base. None of the good aspects of the other Gothic games are present in this one. You can't explore, you can't make any meaningful decisions, it's not a real RPG, you have no character choices, the combat and magic systems are completely different (and awful), and it's unbelievably easy compared to other Gothic games. It is abundantly clear that they just made this a "Gothic" game to try to make money off of the name.
In short, this game is atrocious. The producers took a more serious RPG franchise and tried to dumb it down to make it appealing to fans of casual RPG games. What they managed to do is make it unappealing both as a serious RPG (by removing most of the RPG elements and challenging gameplay) and as a casual RPG (by making it boring and repetitive). The only redeeming element in this game is the graphics, which look very nice in some places. Parts of the game look so nice I gave the game an extra star just for that. However, looking nice doesn't even begin to make up for its shortcomings. It is one of the most boring and repetitive games I have ever seen. Thankfully, it's very, very short. I couldn't believe it when the game ended. All of a sudden it just went to this cutscene of three people we haven't even seen before in the game chanting "gorchama" (whatever that means) over and over and over before reenacting a scene from The Two Towers. I had no idea what had just happened in the cutscene, and thought it was just a regular cutscene like it has at the beginning of each new stage of the game, but then it cut to the end credits. I still don't understand what happened, or why it happened, but I was happy it was over. When I checked my game status, I saw that I finished the entire game a little over 12 hours. That's right, I did every quest there was (that should give some indication of how few quests there are), and still finished the game in twelve hours. Given that I spent a good deal of time at the beginning trying to explore, I'd imagine it actually only takes about ten to eleven hours to do everything. Normally I'd be upset, but not with this game. I just wish it had been shorter.
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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2010 5:35:59 AM PDT
I agree with you 100%, this is a waterdown version of gothic games of the past. Not worth buying. Its been so dumb down to the point that a 5 year old could beat it.
Posted on Oct 20, 2010 6:34:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2010 6:36:59 AM PDT
Jason W. Blanton says:
Hey, have a question. I find it hard to believe that the game is only 12 hours long when Gothic 3 was a least over 40 for me? Anyway, what happened here is blantly obvious. The designers tried to cater to the console crowd. Console RPG's just plain suck unless all you like is the story. They're all linear with invisible walls and limited RPG elements. I did hear that Red Dead Redemption was good though. I knew this wasn't going to be good when I played the demo so I just made up my mind not to buy it and after reading your review and the ohers Im glad I did wait. Now it's on to Fallout - New Vegas!
Posted on Oct 20, 2010 10:38:44 AM PDT
D. Shetler says:
I was going to write my own review but yours sums it up better. I am extremely disappointed with gothic iv and will not purchase any more in the gothic series. Now I have to wait for two-worlds ii since I couldn't stomach more than 10 hours of this game.
Posted on Oct 20, 2010 11:33:16 AM PDT
Say it ain't so... I had such high hopes, thinking (mistakenly) they would have learned their lesson after #3. But your review is detailed enough to convince me Gothic 4 is gothic in name only, with none of the elements that made me fall in love with the Gothic series in the first place... Gothic 3 fooled me once, shame on them. I will not let Gothic 4 fool me twice, shame on me.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2010 2:27:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2010 2:32:05 PM PDT
Jesse Rouse says:
That's not really a question, but yes, earlier Gothic games took me much, much longer. I don't remember exactly how long Gothic 3 took, but I'd estimate around 35-40 hours. I know it took me over 50 hours to beat Gothic II with the NOTR expansion the first time I played it.
Also, I should mention that I gave up going out of my way to pick any items up or even loot bodies after I realized there was no point, as you never need to eat any of the plants or sell any of the items you find. That might be why it only took me 12 hours. Still, I can't see all that much more time being added to the game length even if you kept doing those things throughout the whole game.
Posted on Oct 20, 2010 5:03:49 PM PDT
J. Schwarz says:
What a shame. I was looking forward to buying this game and now I think I'll pass. Really sad. Why couldn't they make it like Riven?
Posted on Oct 20, 2010 5:28:08 PM PDT
Joshua A. Blizzard says:
Thanks for the thorough review and not just bashing it with vague and ambiguous criticisms. I'll be taking this game off my wish list now.
Posted on Oct 21, 2010 1:07:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2010 1:08:59 AM PDT
Jesse Rouse says:
If anyone is still tempted to get this (like I was) just because it is a Gothic game, do yourself a favor and try the demo first. The game is pretty much just like the demo, except they streamlined the demo so that it doesn't lag. Imagine the demo with lots of lag, and then imagine playing it over and over for about 12 hours, and you've got a pretty good idea what you're going to be paying $50 for.
Posted on Oct 21, 2010 9:52:59 AM PDT
Yes this was a really good review! I too wanted to get this game once I dabbled in FONV a little but now I'll probably wait until it's under $20 or even less. I really had high hopes for this game as well-Really Limited Exploration?! I guess I'll just get Vanquish or Fable 3...
Posted on Oct 26, 2010 9:34:14 AM PDT
John Salerno says:
Great review, but I'm so disappointed. I was really looking forward to the game.