ArcaniA: Gothic 4 Catch-All

just prepurchased on steam. Hopefully be downloading that tommorrow, unless Steam decides it needs to wait for the US release (which it better bloomin' well not).

***

Ok, put a few hours into it so far. Initial thoughts...

- Absolutely stunning scenery and environment with all graphics options ramped up

- ...the downside to which is that you're REALLY restricted in the areas you can explore.
There are a LOT of invisible walls hemming you in. Maybe it opens up more later,
but it's a pain in the backside not being able to hop down a short cliff as as shortcut
just because it's not on the main route through the region.

- close combat is very button mashy (actually it feels a lot like the combat from The Witcher where you have to time your clicks for maximum effect)

- Ranged combat feels very satisfying for a change (arrows make a nice meaty 'thunk') and it's effective enough that I'm focusing on it as my primary weapon.

- voice acting and dialog is awful . So THAT part of Gothic remains intact at least

- the "skill tree" when leveling is fairly...well, dull actually. Not much in the way of special abilities. And no thief abilities as far as I can tell - only an initial "stealth" option which only lowers your threat radius for critters. No lockpicking or nuthin'

- And it only seems to go up to level 16 (I'm already level 8 and I've barely started). Maybe there's more to it and I'm just missing something but that seems terribly low.

- so far, I've never felt that wandering off the main path (as much as is possible anyway)
is at all dangerous. In earlier Gothic games and Risen, this would be a recipe for certain
death at the hands of a high level Gribbly. I've run into a couple of slightly tougher
beasties but nothing really dangerous. Again, still in the starting area of the game "proper"
though so that may change.

- Some of the creature design is pretty good...

Spoiler:

For example, there are sea turtles along the coastlines that drop pearls. I can't bring myself to kill them but occasionally you stumble across dead ones you can loot. When I approached one of these corpses, it suddenly broke apart to reveal that it was actually a slime creature that was using the shell of a sea turtle as natural camoflage, which I thought was pretty neat and made for a nicely plausable critter.

*** update , 12ish hours in.

Just another update with some more issues I have with the game.

Firstly, forgot to mention before that it uses Securerom with a three activation limit. Doesn't bother me personally, since it comes with a licence revoker as well, but I know some people consider this a deal breaker so just thought I'd put that out there.

I'm a fair bit into it now and it's clear that despite it's heritage it is a VERY linear game. It seems to be set up in a series of small, contained 'zones' that you are basically visiting one after the other without any backtracking at all (although there were some caves I couldn't access in an earlier area so I guess I may be back there at some point later). So basically every area is a small, contained location with a bottleneck leading back to the previous zone or forward through a (probably blocked) door into the next.

Compare that to the like of the earlier Gothic games where you pretty much have the freedom to go anywhere you want from the start. You'll die, certainly, but you have that choice available to you. In Arcania there's all kinds of superb looking scenery (some of the waterfalls in articular look really good) but it's all sealed up behind invisible walls and mountian barriers so you don't ever get to explore much of it.

One major side effect of this is that you rarely encounter any sort of challenging battle of the sort you'd get in the Gothic games made by the original team. I've had a couple of near death moments but that was down to being swarmed by six or so smaller creatures all spamming their attacks at once, rather than the creatures themselves being any real challange.

The Dungeons
- Also, I have a bit of an issue with the caves and dungeons. Practically all of them are simply a linear tunnel circuit with the exit always next to the entrance on a high ledge so you can't go through the cave "the wrong way". Occasionally there's been the odd branching dead end path but thus far, damned near every cave I've entered has used this same pattern.

It's convenient, certainly, but it's starting to get faintly ridiculous. They aren't even very LONG caves half the time, it's like the developers have this pathological fear of going backwards in this game.

The "characters"
- The environments look great, and the character armour, weapons, etc look pretty good...but the characters themselves...not so much. Faces seem extremely low-res compared to the rest of the games graphics. Also I think I've maybe counted five different NPC models in total, and these are re-used in EVERY town or settlement you encounter. Combine that with the absolutely awful line delivery (it isn't even the bad acting that's the worst part, its the fact that almost EVERY line in the game is spoken with the wrong inflection or with the emphasis on the wrong phrase) and you get to the stage where you have absolutely zero interest in anything but the quest related dialogues, and I just skip through them to the reward/quest info.

So...yeah. The game isn't terrible. There's zero load screens when exploring, which is great, Combat, interface, etc is easy to get to grips with and It's certainly managed to be remarkably bug-free. But they seem to have jettisoned a LOT of what made the Gothic games good along with the glitches.

*** arg ok, one more thing I remembered I needed to have a moan about then I'll shut up about it, promise

The 'fast travel' system
...is utterly pointless/useless. There are two teleporter stones in each area of the game. Unfortunately, these are linked together and do not allow you to travel outside the current area. So for example, if you were in the fourth area of the game and wanted to get back to the inn in the first area of the game, you can't. You need to physically walk all the way back to the exit from area 1, find the second of the two teleport stones in area 1 and then use that to jump to the first stone - normally no more than a couple of minutes walk at this point anyway.

It's a bafflingly useless addition to the game and further cements the idea that the developers really don't want you to backtrack AT ALL in this game.

Gah, I am a sucker for an RPG. Have never finished a Gothic game despite owning them all as well as Risen. I get bogged down and then something else comes along. But - I like the RPGs and at least they are giving it a good go of it. Sold!

Ok. Finished. Yeah.

The positives:

- Absolutely stunning postcard pretty environments
- Nice music
- Absolutely no loading once in the game (save for the "quick" travel option)
- Pretty polished (never ran into any significant bugs at all)
- Some nice creature design (the swamp shark in particular was excellent).
- Ranged combat is not bad.
- The hand-painted "animated stills" cutscenes look quite good
- I actually finished a game with Gothic in the title

The negatives: (oh so many negatives)
Bare with me...this might take a while but I need to rant...

as well as the stuff I mention above...

This is an EXTREMELY linear game. It's split up into small MMO style areas with a bottleneck connecting each of them togeter. You never have to go back to any previously explored areas and they all snake around the starting island one after the other. It's not quite as bad as Final Fantasy 13...but it's pretty close. To make matters worse, only about 1/2 of the available world map can actually be explored. The rest - including an entire city - is walled off from you completely.

BORING levelling : everything ties in to your basic melee / ranged / spell attacks and it's pretty much all mostly passive bonuses (+1 to melee attack, etc), save for a couple of upgrades to the number of times you can do a special power attack. There are no unique skills or abilities to be gained by levelling up. Which of course means...

BORING melee combat : click to whack with sword, time the clicks to do a more powerful attack, and...yeah that's pretty much it. Aside from rolling around to avoid the enemies when they suddely start glowing to show they are powering up their own special attack. Repeat throughout entire game without change.

BORING progression : NO factions, no real choices to make in the game (some quests divert slightly but not enough to make any sort of a difference far as I can tell). The quests are ALL of the "kill X", "collect Y" variety.

BORING lack of Rogue Skills: Well, actually there IS lockpicking and sneaking in the game, sneaking just reduces your MMO style threat radius to monsters and the lockpicking is automatically earned during the main storyline and is possible the STUPIDEST LOCPICKING MINIGAME EVER.
THIS IS NOT HOW LOCKS WORK!

*Sigh*...what else. Oh yes...

Crossbows are RIDICULOUSLY overpowered (also BORING), and at some point they must have realised this because there is practically no actual AMMO for them to be found anywhere apart from a handful of chests in the wilderness. You can't buy bolts for it anywhere.

If you're a fan of BORING Two handed weapons then GOOD NEWS! Practically EVERY quest reward or weapon found in a chest is a two handed weapon. If - like me - you're a fan of the old sword & shield combo then...good luck! The selection of 1H stuff is pitiful.

Artificially extended (BORING) ending: If you are a fan of backtracking through mazes looking for X number of Y then this is the game for you. The game makes up for the lack of exploration earlier in the game by forcing you to wander through a maze of city walls and buildings near the end of the game - presumably to extend it's really short length.

Not only that, but AFTERWARDS you have to traverse several BORING dungeon areas of nothing but monsters and combat before you, mercifully, reach the end of the game.

Oh, and the ending is a BORING cliffhanger that makes no sense.

Also : BORING!!!

Have to agree with most of chilimac's review above. Haven't finished, but so far seems toq be a similar experience. I haven't foUnd it as boring, but is very linear and streamlined in many cases. Funny I thought to myself that I was playing an mmo all by myself a couple of times. Also on the pc I am having some incredible graphic anomaly issues. Npc's and the terrain basically losing their skins and becoming all black. I have two gtx 480's so I shouldn't have any graphics issues. Plays smooth as butter , but the graphic glitches can be irritating at times. Game is probably in the 60-70 ranking range. Unless you absolutely are a sucker like me for RPGs then wait for a sale.

This just went from a sale purchase to no purchase at all. *sigh* For shame.

MoonDragon wrote:

This just went from a sale purchase to no purchase at all. *sigh* For shame.

Ditto, I might grab it on a steam sale for 10 bucks.

Got the PC version over the weekend, must have put about 12 hours into it. So far I am enjoying it, although I have a nagging feeling that I'm already approaching the endgame, but then again I didn't care much about the collectibles and a few of the sidequests.

Easily the worst part of this game is the voice acting. The conversations are badly paced, some of the voice actors are downright horrendous and even for someone who is not an expert on English accents (I am German), the mix of accents in this game is very weird. Some sound British but try to hide it, some sound openly American, then there's the odd Scot or Irishman in there... No rhyme or reason. But it's a staple flaw with German-made games, the German VOs usually aren't much better.

The graphics are very nice, but they could have used more than five character models. The majority of male characters have got the same face, poorly disguised by different beards, hairstyles or headgear. The only reason it doesn't feel as bad with the female characters is that there really aren't that many to choose from. In addition, the characters seem to have a total of three different animations during a conversation. The game makes up for it with vast, lush landscapes which are an absolute pleasure to look at.

Controls on the PC are smooth and fluid, which makes movement and combat a pleasure. A lot of the interface clunkiness of previous Gothic titles is gone. Not being a button mashing afficionado, I find that this is one of the few games where the block/evade mechanic actually works for me. At times I find myself walking up to a shaman who's blasting lightning bolts at me, and go roll left, roll right, smack him in the face. Bliss

The story is absolutely linear, the factions of the previous games are there but they don't really seem to serve any role. A few times you have to make decisions but they usually don't matter much. The game literally pulls you through the story. Gothic never was a sandbox game, but there seems to be a lot less freedom in this one.

Technologically this is a huge improvement over Gothic 3, and with its flaws and issues it's still very enjoyable. Seeing they have already announced a sequel, I really want to get to the end to see how they're playing it. Which just wreaks havoc on the rest of my outstanding current games (NV, Fable 3, Enslaved), never mind the huge pile of shame I have...

Been slowly working my way through the PC version, and it's pretty enjoyable....as long as you ignore the Gothic part of the title. It doesn't stand up to Gothic 2, but then neither did Gothic 3.

Looks good, and I've only experienced a few bugs. I've fallen through the world in a couple of spots. And for the last few hours I've had an invincible rabbit following me around.

rainynight65 wrote:

Easily the worst part of this game is the voice acting. The conversations are badly paced, some of the voice actors are downright horrendous and even for someone who is not an expert on English accents (I am German), the mix of accents in this game is very weird. Some sound British but try to hide it, some sound openly American, then there's the odd Scot or Irishman in there... No rhyme or reason. But it's a staple flaw with German-made games, the German VOs usually aren't much better.

This. Not to mention when the voice acting and the subtitles don't always match up - it's not exactly a game killer or anything, but it seems a bit sloppy. Otherwise, I am enjoying this game a lot.

conejote wrote:

...And for the last few hours I've had an invincible rabbit following me around.

Does it have big pointy teeth?

Mimble wrote:
conejote wrote:

...And for the last few hours I've had an invincible rabbit following me around.

Does it have big pointy teeth? ;-)

Nope, just a fuzzy rabbit. Apparently I'm not the only one to encounter it:

http://www.overclock.net/pc-games/84...

I know this is a longshot, but does anyone still have a copy of this sitting around that they want to part with?

I used to own it and I actually love the game, flaws and all. My house was robbed last year and all my games were stolen.

I can't find it for sale anywhere for less than $30 and our local Wal-Mart and GameStop still sell it for $60 if you can believe that.

I have PayPal if anyone is willing to sell (or donate) their copy. PM me if you want to set up any sort of arrangement. Thanks!

50% off on Steam until Mon 23rd, showing as £8.99 for me, so I guess $15 ? Plus you can't lose or be robbed of it

davet010 wrote:

50% off on Steam until Mon 23rd, showing as £8.99 for me, so I guess $15 ? Plus you can't lose or be robbed of it :)

Shhhh! I'm currently hacking his Steam account...

Heh. Perhaps I should have specified. I'd really like to get a copy on 360. I'll check it out on Steam but I have a fairly terrible computer, so who knows if I can actually run it. Plus, I'm old fashioned and just love having a hard copy.