Gothic 2 Night of the Raven Review

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Graphics: 8.5
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 9.5
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 9.5
Review by Thomas Cap

A question of origin

We Europeans love to think of ourselves as poor bastards. The people on the other side of the Atlantic often refer to us as ?good (which is optional lately) ol? Europe?, like we would be near our end already. In world policy we often play a neglectable role, hence we don?t have as much stuff we could use to blow others up as others do. And most importantly we normally get the games much later. Especially video games ? normally developed in Japan or the US of A ? have the habit of taking their time before finally coming to the European territories. We of course all understand that translation and video conversion consume money (which has to be raised first) and time, but if a really good game is just around the corner it can be a real torture to wait and wait and wait. But very, very seldom Europe strikes back!

Remember Silent Hill 3? We got it first! Ever heard of Aquanox 2, or Gothic and Gothic II? Most of you perhaps didn?t know, but the three of them are coming from Europe, and from an Austrian developer: JoWood.

Most RPG gamers have already heard of Gothic II, and almost everyone who played it loved it. I played the German version already long ago but the international version impressed the rest of our staff too. I remember a post on our forums which claimed ?Gothic II ? more realistic than the bible?. Heretic? Unlikely. A perhaps humble try of a gamer to express how much he liked the game? Definitely.

The international version of the main game was finished just some weeks ago and preorders are already possible in most electronic boutiques or directly from Piranha Bytes ? the team behind Gothic:

But the people that can?t wait to get their hands on it and cry out loud ?finally!? ? you are way behind yet again. The Night of the Raven is upon us. The Night of the Raven (The German title is ?Die Nacht des Raben?, I guess the international version will have a similar title.) is the official addon to Gothic II, and it is a very interesting addon I have to admit. Normally an addon means that the developers throw in a new door, cave entrance or path somewhere, and once players reach this location they are warped to a new area with new levels and characters to explore and meet. Piranha didn?t make things that easy for themselves.

Most important fact for players that wish to play the addon: You have to start all over. No matter if you are a powerful fire mage or a badass mercenary ? say goodbye to your devastating spells or your 50 pound two handed Orc Slayer. It?s hit and run from the critters again. Playing all over, ?What for?? one might ask. Well think of Night of the Raven as something like a big-scale director?s cut from the movies. The developers took the original game and enhanced it big time. The same game with large new areas, many new characters, numerous new items, new abilities, new quests, other ways to solve quests and last but not least something that?s still on the agenda in most German communities: a much higher level of difficulty.

A brand new world

Be aware that I?m not talking about some cosmetic changes here and there. Players that played Gothic 2 will of course not be completely lost. The city and the mine colony is still where it used to be, but people have changed and there are new groups you can join and secrets that you can reveal. Let?s start with the most important decision you have to make throughout the game. Which group should I join? The decision just got harder?

In the original game you could choose between 3 groups on principle. Join the militia and in time become a powerful paladin for the king. Or choose the way of magic and after many harsh tests in the monastery become a member of the fire mages' inner circle. Or if you are not a fan of law and order, become the most powerful (or helpful?) mercenary the world has ever seen.

But the addon introduces new choices for everyone. The Water Mages that played an important role in the original game but were represented by only a single character in the city of Khorinis, can now be found in the new areas of the world and future magicians might wish to learn their ways instead those of the Fire Mages. And corrupted mages will hear with joy that Beliar, the lord of chaos, is playing a big role again and his magic can be learned by anyone who is ruthless enough ? or strong enough to resist the dark side anyway. (NO this is no reference to a certain movie cash cow)

In the first 15 minutes of the game the player will also get to know the other new groups. What the paladins are to the fire mages, is the ?The Circle of Water? to the Water Mages. But unlike the Paladins they are a secret organisation, and membership always has to remain a secret to outsiders. You will often be surprised who is among their ranks and even well-known characters might prove that there are two sides to everything. A group for the conspiracy lovers out there? And for some people being a mercenary was not ruthless enough. Being a swashbuckling pirate will fit their needs I believe. Aargh! And for those afraid of water ? an encounter with a gang of (mainland) bandits is also planned.

Things to see, things to slay, things to collect

The new area of the game mostly plays in a jungle environment, and of course new critters are around as well. But not only in the new areas will people meet new creatures. I remember my first (and last before reloading) encounter with two wild boars in the forest? Not much help now reading in the manual hints like this: ?Never drive a wild boar mad. He WILL get you. He is faster than you.? No comment.

Last but not least a few words about the new items. While obviously there are many items around with new attributes and enhacements, two items are definitely worth mentioning. Most importantly perhaps, is that belts are introduced with the addon. Belts offer additional protection and often bear powerful enchantments. Now that you know what to look for, it is up to you. But something else will help you too. A domesticated Will-o-Wisp can lead you to hidden weapons and items, but first you have to find the ore amulet that is home to this helpful spirit.

Something good just got better?

?is all I need to say to conclude this review. The level of difficulty makes it a good idea to play the original game first (which is always a good idea anyway), before risking your virtual life in the addon. But by any means don?t miss this one.