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Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) artwork

Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) review


"This game has it all: orcs, swashbuclking, dragons, intermittent crashes, terrain glitches, magic..."


Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) image

Have you ever reached the end of a long game feeling drained? You pump countless hours into it, sacrificing sleep each night. You begin every day weary, but determined to put the lengthy quest to rest. Your journey entertains, inspires, frustrates, instills doubt and eventually either breaks you or yields to your abilities. When it's over, your only desire is to enjoy months of sleep. Perish the thought of playing sequels or offerings in a similar vein! You just want to hibernate.

Gothic II: Gold Edition is just such a game. As was its predecessor, Gothic II is an open world RPG. You begin as the lowest peon on an island called Khorinis. As you begin the campaign, you have absolutely nothing: no equipment, items, money or talents. After a few minutes, you either locate a large stick or a simple dagger you can use to fight off packs of wolves, massive insects, angry goblins and bandits. The game doesn't hold your hand much, and it expects you to survive on your skills and wits alone. So you walk into the forbidding world and search for whatever advantage you can grasp.

At first, you nab everything that isn't nailed down. You swipe every herb and mushroom you come across, and sneak into citizens' houses to steal food and rob caches. You especially seek anything that will improve your chances in combat, or serve as merchant fodder. As you advance, you continue to battle meaner foes and rack up levels and "learning points," which allow you to boost your stats or learn new skills (e.g. lockpicking, sneaking, potion brewing, animal skinning, etc.). Before you know it, you're a moderately effective killing machine, boasting an extensive inventory.

Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) image

One thing I've always loved about developer Piranha Bytes is their ability to terrifically capture the essence of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. You embark on their adventures as a talentless nobody and end them as a master dragon hunter, or a notorious pirate captain or a revered paladin. They provide you with hundreds of acres to explore, loaded with loot and infested with challenging monsters. Gothic II: Gold Edition is one of the finest examples of Piranha Bytes' specialty. The endgame victory never felt harder earned or as satisfying as it did here.

Your quest will take you to wondrous places. You'll revisit the location of the first installment, now overrun by orcs and lizardmen. You'll also travel to the ruins of an ancient civilization to stop a megalomaniacal bandit, plus sail to a far away island and blast through the dankest final dungeon Piranha Bytes has ever concocted. Needless to say, Gothic II: Gold Edition's campaign is a hell of an odyssey. I'll admit, though, that Gothic II: Gold Edition could have used more entertaining side quests. Its collection of simple fetch missions didn't entirely ruin the experience, but such events don't compare to those that require more than killing enemies and nabbing or farming items. Quests like those are great for breezier RPGs, but come off as filler in grand adventures like this.

I wish I could ride off into the sunset and give Gothic II: Gold Edition all positive marks, but I would be remiss to ignore the game's glaring flaws. Yes, this is a long, exhaustive, heart-pounding RPG, but that quality is a curse as much as it is a blessing. For every moment when you slay a beast you previously couldn't or equip a new sword, you have to suffer through frustration or tedium. You must be willing to tolerate irritation, and I wouldn't fault anyone who decides to rage quit this title.

Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) image

I'll start my negative remarks with some nitpicking: whenever you enter the main menu after dying, the cursor is default set to "new game." Sometimes the keyboard doesn't respond when you press down to select "load game." As a result, you end up inadvertently starting a new game, whereupon you sit through the initial conversation between the unnamed hero and a necromancer. You can't skip this conversation or enter the main menu during this time, either. You can speed up the dialogue by pressing Escape, though. However, sitting through the intro is still irritating, especially when you've accidentally initiated your eightieth new game.

That's only the tip of the iceberg, though. To even get the game running on a modern machine, you need to patch the hell out of it, turn off the overlay if you're playing via Steam and execute the program from its system folder. After that, Gothic II: Gold Edition still doesn't guarantee you a stable affair. Intermittently, the game crashes your computer. You need to reset your whole system and hope your file isn't corrupt due to your OS trying to save your progress during the crash. The hell of it is that these crashes truly are random. The longest period I had between two such events was about a week. The shortest span, though, was mere minutes.

Even if the game doesn't crash, you're still not out of the woods. Whenever you slide downhill, you have a fifty-fifty shot of getting stuck. The protagonist stops sliding midway down and skids back uphill. He eventually stops before reaching level ground and remains in a perpetual state of sliding. This even happened to me when colliding with the bottom of a slope, where my hero zoomed up the gradient and became fastened to it.

Gothic II: Gold Edition (PC) image

You might have noticed this is the "Gold Edition" of Gothic II, which implies that there's an expansion pack piggy-backed onto it. Not only are you receiving one massive adventure, but also additional content entitled Gothic II: Night of the Raven. The extras this material provides are spectacular, as they allow you to acquire powerful weapons and earn even more experience than the classic edition does. Of course, that means Piranha Bytes had to tweak Gothic II's campaign to account for the advantage you receive. They accomplished this by beefing up all of the enemies, making the game a little less approachable during difficulty spikes.

Worse than that, they also needlessly powered up some of Gothic II's bosses by giving them a ridiculous regeneration ability. Also take into account that these guys can knock you way back with a single blow, thereby preventing you from stemming their healing powers. By the time you've gotten to your feet and resumed the battle, they're already fully healed. Your options here are fairly limited: either give up, strengthen yourself until you can just about one-shot the bosses or hit the Internet. There, you'll discover all you need is a certain spell scroll you would never have considered using, especially if you're not a mage.

During its latter half, Gothic II: Gold Edition becomes a slog. You'll spend countless hours felling monsters to improve your statistics, all the while feeling like you're gaining only a little ground. Eventually, you do find ways to grow to unimaginable heights, and then everything you face (save for the previously discussed bosses) is a pushover. You trudge through miles and miles of orcs and lizardmen, constantly kiting contingents to make battles easier. All the while, you suffer through the game's technical flaws, hoping you'll reach another glorious vista in the campaign. After seventy daunting hours, you walk away from the game exhausted. If you stayed that long, you deserve the weeks of uninterrupted sleep you desire...

3/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (February 18, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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