Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:02 PM
Rented this the other day because it sounded like a good time.
To put it simply, this game reminds me a lot of the Gothic series. It has a really simple combat system (one button attacks, one button jumps back to avoid attacks), you've got a huge map that you can explore at your discretion, and you can shape your character with a number of different skills, some combat and otherwise. Apart from that, there are a few other differences.
The magic system is interesting in that you find/buy spells, as well as booster cards that you can add to a spell to give it bonuses to damage, reduce the casting cost, etc. None of it seems overly dangerous, though, and I wound up going the route of the warrior because it’s by far the easiest. Magician and thief are really more for when you really know what’s going on in the game, perhaps on a second run.
The world is really huge, but thankfully, you can pick up a horse here and there to ride around on, and store your stuff while you go out and search for more stuff. They're pretty hard to control, though. If there's a sharp change in elevation, they'll turn by themselves to avoid it, but often, they'll just turn for no reason at all, particularly when you're trying to mosey on through the gates of a town. You can fight from atop your horse, and it gives you a healthy increase to your damage if you do, but getting your man to attack on from the correct side of the horse is tricky. Plus, you can't use any two-handed weapons, like spears and such.
Unfortunately, there were two ways that this game really reminded me of the Gothic series, particularly Gothic III. The first is the load times and framerate issues. The framerate slows down a lot in the open areas (keep in mind this is the 360 we’re talking about) and when you’re in the middle of a fierce struggle with bandits or just some guy who can kill you in one hit, you don’t want to have trouble dodging because a field of grass that just came into view dropped your FPS to 17. As for loading, you’ll walk about 30 feet in any direction and find a spot where you’ll be forced to stop and wait for the next section of ground to load.
In general, though, this game reminds me of the Gothic series because it also seems to have an unpolished feel to it; the menus are a bit cluttered, there’s a host of clipping issues (kill an enemy near a wall and watch them disappear!), and the game just throws you right into the action without much explanation given to the story. Granted, having a manual to read might have helped me there, but it’s becoming the norm for games to be at least somewhat self-explanatory so that the user won’t be completely confused without the proper documentation. Also, the voice acting is... uneven, and I’m guessing part of the reason for the game’s “M” rating is the use of the phrase “taint shoot”.