|See that guy? That's you!|
My latest in my under-appreciated games collection is Arcania: Gothic 4. I'm sure you could probably find this game in a bargain bin somewhere for like $17 bucks or maybe cheaper. It's basically your normal light, third-person role playing game with swords, armor, magic, bows & arrows. I say light because if you compare this to any of the Elder Scrolls games, this game just looks like a hack & slash...and for the most part it is.
The storyline is basic: normal guy falls in love with normal girl in a village, something bad happens to everyone in the village, guy goes out and seeks vengeance, helping out others along the way and seeing he's part of a bigger story. That's the best description I can give without spoiling but I would say that most RPG games out there are some form of this outline.
First and foremost, you'll notice that you cannot customize your character. The guy on the cover? Yep, that's you so deal with it. Right then and there, RPG nerds around the US are screaming BLASPHEMY!!! I did too but after I started playing, I got over it.
The feel of the controls and the pacing of the story is really what keeps me interested. Your melee weapon, magic spell and ranged weapon are all mapped to their own buttons. How you use them is up to you. So it's sort of a button mash in a way but there is a method to your mashing as you upgrade your skills. As you get quests, talking to other people opens more of the story. You will want to talk with other characters cause the dialogue is funny...almost as if the character knows he's in a video game. I should warn you, there are curses but they're sprinkled out here and there.
Meeting people on your way, you do side quests / fetch quests, pick up ingredients, find collectible items or chests hidden around the land. Like I said...light RPG. A RPG where you don't have to put as much though into it as you have to in games like Oblivion or Fallout 3. Maybe it's the somewhat linear storyline that makes it RPG-lite, who knows.
If you want to get down to the nitty gritty of the gameplay, you'll find small things here and there that'll get annoying. Sometimes NPCs will walk right through me, or I'll even walk through walls. While there are some dialogue options when talking to other NPCs, they really don't make a difference in the story as it's pretty linear. Walk around the world all you want to explore and you'll find some interesting things but you'll feel a little lost. The map is pretty much useless; it's basically just there to show you where you are. And remember to highlight the quest you're doing or you'll just walk aimlessly, but you'll usually find what you want. Oh and crafting? That's easy: get recipe, get ingredients, hit button, tada...but what more did you want?
While I haven't played any of the Gothic games before on the PC, most of the reviews I've seen (and there aren't many), give this game grief because it's not like the others comparatively. Maybe it's because this is the first on a console that they had to change a few things around, I don't know BUT if you take this game as just another RPG game out there, without knowing any of the backstory from the other Gothic games, you'll find it's a pretty fun game to play. Isn't that what video games are for?
I should say that I am playing it on the 360. There is a demo on the 360 which gives you a very good slice of the game. If you're hard on cash but feel up for an RPG, don't look this over.