Gothic 2 improves upon the greatness of Gothic and the result is a masterpiece that scores and words can not describe.
After the fall of the barrier in the first game, nameless hero remained under the ruins of the sleeper's temple. but the magic of the armor he was wearing kept him alive. Xardas, the most important character in the series felt a new threat is rising and resurrected our hero from the ruins, but unfortunately, he lost all of his inventory and powers. after the sleeper was vanquished, with his last cry, he called upon most evil creatures ( including dragons which are considered very powerful creatures in Gothic universe ) and the goal of our hero is to defeat the Beliar's ( God of darkness ) minions and especially the dragons. for defeating them, our hero needs Eye of Innos which is an artifact that lets out hero to talk with dragons and get informed of their motivations . in the other hand, since the barrier has fallen and the ores in the valley of mines are not secure, the king has sent Lord Hagen and a group of paladins to secure the ore in the valley and the eye of Innos is known to be in the possession of Lord Hagen. but before anything, Hagen wants a proof for the presence of dragons and you have to go to valley of mines to get the proof...
Story is extremely well written and the relation between characters and factions are logical and realistic. but the best thing about the story is it's connection with the first game. you see many of the characters from the first game and the game is full of great and heart warming references to the first game. for example, in the first cut scene of Gothic 1, you briefly see a magician which gives you a letter and throws you in to the barrier. but in the final hours of Gothic 2, you'll find that magician was Pyrokar, one of the major characters in the game.
surprisingly, valley of mines, the main area in the first game is also one of the main parts in this game too. although it changed much, but you can find great nostalgia by finding familiar areas and locations.
Gothic offers the same effective faction system of the first game. there are three factions in the game : Fire magicians, Militia and Mercenaries. you can only become the member of one faction and you have to do it wisely. because there is no turning back and the attitude of many characters, your way of fight and many dedicated quests are determined by which faction you belong to.
In terms of Game-play, Gothic 2 truly shines. combat is similar to Gothic, you can use swords, bows, crossbows and spells to fight your enemies. controls might be weird at first like the first game, but you'll get used to it in no time.
The game uses the RPG system of the first game, you get 10 learning points for each level you gain. and you have to spend them by going to a certain tutor. one of the things that changed is the new ability " create runes " . unlike the first game which magic runes were directly ready to use, you have to create them in G2. for creating a magic rune, first you have to learn it by spending LP, the more the spell is strong, the more LP it costs and you must have the certain ingredients and the scroll of that spell. then you can go to a rune table to create the desired magic rune. creating runes makes magicians need more LP and makes it even harder and more enjoyable to play the game as them.
killing every single one of your enemies is a great joy, because they are challenging to fight and hard to beat. one of things that makes the role-playing part of the game more specified is the matter that you fight with same monsters and creatures during the game ( while the new ones come ), but they become easier to beat the more you advance. you just feel that you are actually "advancing". a feeling that most of the RPG's should bring but they fail because enemies are mostly at your same level.
One of the problems of Gothic 1 was it's somehow short length. it could be finished under 40 hours with trying to do nearly everything in the game. but G2 fixes this problem too. personally, it took me nearly 82 hours as a magician to finish the game with trying to do as much as possible. ( of course, with doing NOtR campaign. I never played the vanilla version of the game. ) and I'm only talking about the time which was calculated in the save games.
Artificial intelligence in Gothic 2 is truly amazing. every NPC has a certain task to do and does it perfectly. for example, people go to bed at nighttime and then get back to their work at morning. they eat, they protest if you go to their home , they won't talk to if you steal from them or beat them down and report you to authorities. there is a truly living world in Gothic 2 which you feel you're only a part of it and you don't feel the world is only created for you to do whatever you want in it.
AI of your enemies is even better than NPC's AI. they block, dodge, change their possession, follow you if you try to escape, they don't attack you when you are blocking, etc. every kind of enemy has it's own way of fighting. for example, orcs and lizardmen fight aggressively and when you have a bit of a distance from them, they attack you carelessly while they're moving. but humans fight with more care or Goblins try to confuse you while they spin around you.
Gothic 2 has some really great musical scores. some of them ( especially the main theme ) can be considered among the best. sound effects are suitable for the game too. for example, when you are walking in jungles, you can hear many small voices like crunch of the leafs, snoring of near animals, etc. voice actors in the game are mostly from the previous game which is a good thing. since they really did their job well and were able to deliver the feeling of the characters. they were suitable for the Gothic universe.
Well, I think talking about visuals in a role-playing game is like talking about a story in a plat-former. it's basically not a bad thing to have, but it's a last thing to pay attention to. but since Gothic 2 is a 3D open world game, it needs good visuals. the game uses the same engine which was used in Gothic. visuals are better, if you put the graphics at the highest settings, it can be even a competitor for the RPG's of the same year especially if we pay attention to two things:1. there is one short loading to load a whole map. and there are two ( three with NOtR installed ) maps total. 2. this game was originally released at 2002 in Germany.
and I think the graphics are above standard for a 2002 game.
Gothic 2 is not a perfect game. like every other human work, there are some flaws , like the confusing and extremely hard start, the horrible inventory system or some occasional bugs and crashes , but it will give you a perfect experience. it's one of those games that it's greatness gets revealed more by every passing year. although I can't guarantee everyone can like this game , but Gothic 2 knows it's audience perfectly and satisfies them in the best way possible.