The game of countless choices!

User Rating: 9 | Gothic II PC
Yes, Gothic II.... The game continues the plot of the first game in series, when our nameless protagonist escaped from a prison colony with a couple of friends and wakes up in a Tower of mysterious necromancer Xardas, who is known to be very, very bad and with whom nobody wants to cooperate ( you will find it later on). Our protagonist is assigned to find an Eye of Inos. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is our main quest.
Our nameless hero meets with some of his old comrades from the colony through his adventures and wanderings. Again we are free to choose, where to go and what to do in the large and open world. This world is divided in three major areas: first is the large area, where we begin our journey ( it includes town, surrounding farms, forest, caves, Monastery, temples ( very similar to the Aztec ones) ). This first area is also the largest of all three. Second is the homeland of orcs with the castle in the middle of it ( this is the place, where we fight dragons) and the third is the final area - an island with great underground communications, tombs and so on. This is the place, where our last fight stands. This area is also the smallest. The ones, who have played the first game, will recognize the familiar system, where you are on your own from the beginning of the game. of course, you do have to follow the main quest, but you are still free to wander.
And now more about the choices. When our hero manages to et into the city, you must choose, where to start your apprenticeship, because there are some masters in the town, who will teach you, for example, the basics of forging, lock - picking, hunting and skinning animals and alchemy. after that you must choose, whether to be a member of the Militia, Mercenaries or Mages. If you have become, for example, a mage, you can't become a paladin anymore and vice versa. When you have made your choice, regarding these "guilds," then you are assigned to complete the package of quests, which is unique in each "guild." Also you will wear only the armor and bear the weapons, which are specifically to the particular "guild." Oh, there are many, many quests to complete, but again it's not obligatory to complete them to beat the game - you just need to find the Eye of Inos and follow the main quest. But i highly recommend you to complete as many quests as you can, because you earn experience and can find valuable items that way. The world of Gothic II is open and you can choose the most desired direction.
The character development is a little bit unique - you can characterize a whole universe of Gothic with it, but not all RPG. The point is, as you earn new levels, you are also granted with 5 - 10 points, which you can spend on mastering new skills ( alchemy, forging, etc) or improving the old ones, or improving your stats. I agree with many gamers, who say that combat system in Gothic II suffers from some issues. For example, if you are rather strong, you still can't kill an orc that easily - you can run close to him, hit him 1 - 2 times and quickly run away, because you can be killed in no time. It seems like all thing is in the gamers agility and ability to press the buttons quickly enough to survive in the world of Gothic II. Therefore, I think that this game suffers from the lack of balance in relation between the main hero and the foe. The magic system is also somehow not enough effective. I would better prefer the MP system. But the joy after killing a dragon is great, especially, when you know, that you will be awarded with some loot. Oh, almost forgot! If you'll manage to master the thievery skills, you can get a fine loot from the local townsfolk during the night robberies. Only make sure, that nobody notices you during these robberies.
To sum up, the game has it's flaws (look above about the combat system) and graphics could be better, but it's still an awesome game, highly recommended to all fans of Morrowind. All those wanderings and non - linearity add a little bit more of realism to the game - play, comparing to other RPG ( most of them are linear). Recommended to all fans of Gothic universe and also great RPG's.