Hey folks, Valkor here. With the holiday season about to hit its peak, here is one game most children (or adults) won't be asking for by name. And if they should happen to receive it on Christmas morning, I think after one round of gameplay, they're gonna wonder who did they tick off this year to get such a lame gift. If you haven't tried the first three, then check it out, we have Arcania Gothic 4 on the Xbox 360.
I'm going to be totally upfront, I've never played any of the previous Arcania titles, with that in mind, I'm no slouch when it comes to RPGS (action or otherwise).
Arcania Gothic 4 is an action/RPG that starts out ten years after the events of the 3rd game. This round you play as a nameless hero, seeking revenge against King Rhobar III and his men who have devastated your village and killed your pregnant girlfriend, while you were away partaking on a few quest. Actually the game starts out kind of psychedelic as you begin as King Rhobar facing off against some demons. It's only after this scene has passed does the game actually begin. Arcania IV starts you out simply enough by giving you a few tasks to undertake to get used to the controls and as you progress you'll have the basics locked down, moving on to the more advanced stuff like crafting, cooking, alchemy, making arrows, weapons, etc. You'll accomplish most of your crafting through scrolls that you find/gain and accessing the main menu system.
In the controls department you have an attack, dodge, block and avoid buttons, as well as designated buttons for ranged weapons and magic spells. You have a lock-on button for focusing on particular enemies, the left analog is for movement and the right handles the camera. It will take some adjusting, but you'll get the hang of it in no time. When you begin, you'll start out with simple weapons, but you'll find better weapons on your journey either from monster drops or chests that are strewn about. Plus magic spells that will give the ability to use fire or lightning spells (among other spells that you'll acquire).
And speaking of monsters, this game has a bevy of creatures you'll face off against such as giant spiders, the undead, demons, giant insects, goblins, and so much more. And they're everywhere! Walk a few feet in any given direction and you'll stumble upon a nest of creatures, or they'll sniff you out and come a chargin. Most you can kill outright, but for others you'll have to look for weaknesses to exploit. You'll also battle against some huge boss creatures that will rely on some serious skill. After killing monsters you gain experience and after awhile, you'll level up. When you do, you're basic attributes are raised and you're given skill points, which you can use at the skill menu, where you can improve your character above the norm.
But it's not all about the monsters, as the people you meet along the way also play a role in the shaping of your character. And these are the neediest bunch of peasants that I've ever come across. I can't think of another game, where I'm asked to do so much before I can get the information I seek or items that I need. And it's all done through dialogue, which in certain characters, you get to choose what to say, and they'll either end up liking you or hating your guts. I don't know and I don't care.
So with that out of the way, let's start tearing into this title, shall we?
First off, I will admit, the game is amazingly beautiful to look at; lush green grass and trees, to ominous caves, and snowy mountains are so pleasing to the eyes that you just wanna stop and imagine you were in this world… minus the monsters. Fighting took some getting used to, but the learning curve isn't heavy. I love the quick access menu (the directional pad), which allows you use to use certain skills or items on the fly. It definitely comes in handy as you'll need to either heal constantly or gain access to magic to take down a difficult foe. The music is typical cinematic quality, nothing memorable, but you won't turn down the volume either. Other than that, we move on to…
This is where things start to get messy. First, I mentioned the clumsy controls. Now this isn't too bad, but when you toss it in with a camera that you constantly have to adjust, well that doesn't help with the experience. I also had a problem with the jumping, which looks like you're jumping underwater – very sloooow. And when you attack an enemy, especially the bugs, remember where you killed them because they mesh right into the backdrops. And you need to be precise when you wanna loot a creature, I mean you can't just stand anywhere; you have to be right on it before you can loot it. If you're off by a step, then it's no go. Next are the character designs. Now this is supposed to be the FOURTH game in the series? Why do the characters look like something you'd see on the PS1? Mouth movements are stiff and we have synching issues in the speech, which gives it an unfinished quality about it. Finally the story in and of itself is very uneventful and unsatisfying, maybe because you're asked to do so many menial tasks that you simply grow tired of it all.
The characters you meet along the way. Trust me you'll know what I mean when you see them, should you ever play this game. And the dialogue doesn't help because it's so bad. So very, very bad.
Arcania Gothic 4 ranks as one of those titles that if you've already tried the previous, then you might wanna give this one a spin. Otherwise, there are much better RPGs out there that are better worth your time. Though the game itself is nice to look at, I wouldn't reccomend it. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving this Arcania 4, 2 stars.