Game's biggest downfall among being too easy/unbalanced as "Gothic" is: HORRIBLE dialogues, scripts and voices!
To be honest, Risen too had few bad and uninspired dialogues but was still able to maintain certain level of dignity. There are(many) parts in this game, especially in first half that almost made me uninstall it. Game have some beautiful fantasy scenery, lot of years of work went into it, story actually isn't bad at all(in concept and on the paper), however I foresee that good 40%+ gamers won't find enough lead in them to pass it because dialogues. Scripts, voices, dialogue choices... its truly bad. Its like game doesn't take itself seriously and I hate that. Stupid jokes I expect from games that are designed for that purpose, I want serious, interesting and dark story here! You will notice what I mean right in beginning in first "tutorial" island. Enjoy.
Strangely animated cutscenes are pretty "serious" and well acted/voiced which go in big contrast with gameplay.
Game itself isn't that much buggy. I never experienced anything big or even stopper. But for example, you speak with someone and suddenly certain part of dialogue is voiced by different actor(or same but with totally different tone not relevant to previous mood). It does feel weird of course and destroy atmosphere of the game.
Ending cutscene was weirdly cut when credits rolled which also felt strange.
New combat is more slick and feel good, but this make game too easy and destroy one of most important subjects of Gothic series: combat balance and awareness from enemies. Before, you felt your RPG progress clearly. Wolfs were threat at beginning, then not anymore - but bears still were - when even they were not anymore skeletons still were - when not shadowbeast was still big deal etc... Well now you can fight almost all of them from get go - on normal difficulty. I already fought whole packs of wolves in tutorial island and haven't even got hurt.
Problem here is that while combat was renewed, enemies remain with same behavior(maybe even less cunning). You can evade by right click of mouse button and run around and they never hit you. If they do they take lot of health which is cheap way to compensate difficulty. Character don't give feedback much so you better watch health meter or you may not even notice(screen will go red at least but thats already after only half of health gone) when you suddenly die.
So this is problem because it destroy one of the most fundamental part of Gothic series: feel of character and RPG progression.
It doesn't help that skills are badly designed too. Skill tree have only few options to spend points for upgrade, but already easy cheap combat takes feeling of necessity to do that. Also, for example adding points to "precision" - which is used for bow combat enhancement add also to mana reserves(!), that streamlined it is.
Thankfully there are "levels" and other RPG elements like strength which you cannot directly upgrade but you get lot of equipment which may enhance some abilities and in this regard game is still ok as an RPG.
First tutorial island aside, main game is on second - big one. If before you could go everywhere but were limited by your skill and RPG progress vs. enemies, here game allow you to visit land by parts. Before you can progress to another area, you need to solve problems in current one. These areas are of about medium size so its not that bad, you can return later too so in concept game is "expanding" places you can visit. I don't have problem with this but others may. To some degree it give that feel of progress(that other changed gameplay elements have taken from you).
Hero is looking horrible. Nothing fantasy/awe-inspiring. Uninspired is best word I can find. Were he be a real person staying close to me, I would get 5+ years prison because of him. NPC's are... horrible(again), few ugly faces repeating all over the game.
I better watch my blood pressure so lets skip this...
First, game DOES get better after about half and toward its end. Stupid dialogues and silly voices are replaced by better, more important ones and gameplay get its priority. Story too.
At already about half-game I had my fire magic at maximum, which means I was clearing multiple enemies at once and this satisfaction can give you only few RPG's because in may of them magic is underpowered. Its already easy even more BUT satisfying. By holding button you can charge spell to be stronger.
World is beautiful and most important: fantasy beautiful, this is where Spellbound always been good at and don't make series any bad name(at least). Monastery on cliff or castle separated from land by gap, big mountains, tower... you name it. This is one of main reasons I play Gothic(s) and its all here.
When I think about it, biggest downfall here is silly uninspired dialogues and that game try to be funny at times. There are many other games that already got "streamlined" for masses, yet people play and like them because they are able to hook them from beginning. But if you get THIS presentation how can you even care? Sure, story and all does get better(much, much later) but its nothing you haven't seen before. Believe or not, there is actually good game under. Would they re-voiced dialogues(or just replaced them with "generic voice imitations" for sake of $ and focused on better scripts and dialogue choices), adjusted at least few its scripts and reworked combat a bit then game would be great. Maybe not same like Gothic series but great nonetheless on its own. As it is now its just streamlined, uninspired and unfinished Gothic wannabe that may or may not still be worth for you to play, depends what you look for and how much can you tolerate.
"Rise G4! For being silly, uninspired and sometimes downright stupid, for trying to "joke" around, for lacking combat/RPG depth of predecessors, for screwing good series AND for being gay, I hereby - with full consequences and within my user review limits, sentence you to d... 6.5/10(UPDATE: meh, 7 for peace in my soul) score, with eyepatch over one eye, taking into account fantasy world in which you succeeded, second part of game and its ending. Amen to that."