A black celebration.
With the disappointing news
that Rockstar’s upcoming Bully
won’t be the savage murder simulator we were hoping for, but rather a dull day-in-the-life affair where you’re actually fighting against
the bullies, worshippers of misanthropic gaming feel a little put out. If anybody understood our desire to pretend
to do terrible, awful, very bad things, we thought, for sure, that it was Rockstar. Way to get all Alice Cooper
on us, guys.
But our belief in a future with plenty of unprovoked virtual violence was rekindled recently, when Aspyr invited us to check out their upcoming RPG, Gothic 3. In case you haven’t heard of them, the Gothic games have nothing to do with black lipstick or bad poetry, instead offering complex plots, ambiguous moral choices, lots of land to explore, and the freedom to experience escapist fantasy however you see fit. Hugely popular in Europe, the series has gained a cult following in the United States and hopes it turns into a full-on religion when Gothic 3 arrives. Hail, Satan.
The series follows the Unnamed Hero (his real name is probably Francis), as he battles his way through his realm’s wars and intrigues. In Gothic 3
, he travels to the mainland, Myrtanna, only to discover that the war between Orcs and Men has ended with mankind as the loser. The bigger, stronger Orcs are now the ruling class, and humans merely their thralls. As the Unnamed Hero, you can either join a resistance attempting to overthrow your oppressors, or go all Uncle Tom and do their bidding against your own species.
We know that sounds pretty touchy, but the folks at Aspyr assured us that the trials ahead of the Unnamed Hero will be extremely ambiguous and philosophically challenging. Good decisions may lead to evil outcomes, and the righteous path may seem to require you to work against humanity. In every case, the choice will be yours.
For example, you can’t accidentally kill people in Gothic 3. If you whup on them long enough, you’ll knock them out, and from there you can either leave them in the dirt or put them under it with a mortal strike. This is a small detail that illustrates the pervasiveness of choice and morality within Gothic 3's framework.
And if the demo we saw was any indication, you’ll have a lot of choices to make because Gothic 3 goes big with the action. In fact, if you want the Orcs to even acknowledge your presence you must work your way up a gladiatorial ladder; otherwise you’re just an invisible man. To this end, you have all manner of weapons skills and magic at your disposal.
We saw the Unnamed Hero fence foes with a rapier, chop them to pieces with dual long swords, fill their faces with arrows, and even cook their bones with vicious fire spells. That’s our kind of hero, although he can be more than just a butcher. We also saw him cast a spell that transformed him into a troll, allowing him to explore the forest without static from the other trolls or the indigenous packs of carnivorous chickens that are so common in those parts.
Although we probably only saw the tip of the iceberg, the graphics looked wonderful. The Unnamed Hero was big, bad and wore very cool armor. His fire spells featured some sizzling effects and the environments were alive with atmospheric details, like uppity humans hanging from poles. This is not Final Fantasy.
Rather, it’s the third in a series we’ve only just become acquainted with, and can’t wait to get to know better. With its good looks, fascinating racial dynamics, intense action and absolute freedom, Gothic 3 will let us unleash both our inner wusses and bullies when it hits shelves this November.