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The plot is standard fantasy fare: hero returns to his country only to find out it has been conquered by an army of Orcs.
The greatest achievement of Gothic 3 is the world in which the adventure takes place. It's huge - with three main countries: Myrtana, Nordmar and Varrant - believable and never repetitive: each location has a wonderfully distinctive look, from the strongholds of the clans in the North to the deserts in the South, from crocodile-infested swamps to monasteries in the mountains.
Some details I loved. For example, I entered a cave in which a couple of miners had disappeared, but it was too late, a monster had killed them. I loaded a saved game and tried again: they resisted longer and I saved one of them - and a third time they defeated the monster with no help from me. This kind of unpredictability runs through the game, and it's a good thing.
Each time you pass a level you get some "learning points", but you can't automatically acquire new skills (there are many, from more conventional like fighting and magic to non-combat ones like alchemy and blacksmithing): first you have to find someone who teaches you these skills, then pay him or complete some minor quests. This makes for a more complex but ultimately more realistic gaming experience.
Not that Gothic 3 is flawless. The characters you meet are rather nondescript. Dialogues have a good sense of humour but they lack the flair of, say, the Baldur's Gate series: you can't choose between many lines and often you can't even decide whether you want to be friendly or arrogant, solemn or ironic. I do like that people from different regions talk in different ways. An odd detail is the fact people living in Gothic's world are almost only male - women are *very* few. Weird.
A.I. is passable - many enemies pursue you with a surprising insistence. Incidentally, wild animals should have been faster - it doesn't make sense that you can outrun a tiger. But this is a nitpick. A much bigger problem is the fact enemies can't jump: you can easily slaughter a huge group of them if they don't have long-range weapons or a wizard and you get on higher ground. Ladies and gentlemen... gamebreaker!
Soundtrack is epic, with some great vocal work and different themes depending on the location you are visiting.
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