Plot is standard fantasy fare: the protagonist returns to his country which 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, believable and never repetitive: each location has a wonderfully distinctive look, from snowy strongholds of northern clans to temples rising in southern deserts, from crocodile-infested swamps to monasteries hidden 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 reloaded and tried again: they resisted longer and I saved one of them; the third time, they defeated the monster with no help from me. This kind of unpredictability runs through the game, and it's a plus.
Each time you pass a level you get "learning points", but you can't automatically acquire new skills (ranging from more conventional ones like fighting and magic to non-combat oriented like alchemy and crafting): first you need to find someone who teaches you these skills, then pay him or complete a minor quest. This makes for a more complex but ultimately more realistic gaming experience.
Not that Gothic 3 is flawless. Characters are rather nondescript; dialogues have a good sense of humour but they lack the flair of, say, the Baldur's Gate series: often you can't even decide whether you want to be friendly or arrogant, solemn or ironic. 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 surprising insistence. Incidentally, wild animals should have been faster - it doesn't make sense that you can outrun a tiger! A much bigger problem is how enemies cannot jump: you can easily slaughter a huge group if they don't have long-range weapons or wizards and you are 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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