If I was to rate this game based purely on its own merits I'd say it was passable, unremarkable but playable. But as a Gothic title I think it's abysmal.
It may have Gothic in the title but it has little in common with those old classics. I wonder why these devs in particular wanted to make a Gothic game, because they obviously have no love for the original. All the cool and unique things that help make the Gothic games so fun and endearing have been completely ignored. People don't get upset when you steal from them, you can waltz right into someone's house and rifle through their chests and they don't bat an eye. You don't need to find a trainer to raise your skills you just apply points when you level up. You don't need to actually use a fire or cooking pot to cook up your food or roast your meat, or an alchemy bench to brew potions, or a blacksmiths bench to craft equipment. You just do it all from your inventory screen. The funny thing is all those things are in the game, and you can use them, but using them doesn't do anything. You can't even sleep to pass the time. If you select a bed your character will lay down… And that's it. Nothing. It's just for show.
The skill sheet bears no similarity to any of the other three games. Gone are the skills to gut and skin animals, you no longer have to learn how to do that. Lock picking is no longer a skill, you can do it (by means of a stupid minigame) when you acquire a lock pick set, but sneaking is still a learned skill, thankfully. Most of the other skills simply automatically boost your combat prowess, making you do more damage, generate more mana or stamina or be able to take more punishment. Strength and dexterity have gone, so have weapons that require them. That and the unimaginative skill tree make levelling up boring. I felt there is very little impetus to level up.
Combat is boring. You look pretty cool while you execute your flurries and spinning attacks and whatnot but that's all automatic. All you have to do is time your attacks to keep your rhythm going. You can execute a couple of moves but combat basically comes down to a boring button mash. It's not even as good as Gothic 3 which was watered down considerably from the previous two games. The combat isn't particularly challenging either. You will likely only get into trouble if you're heavily outnumbered, but you can always run away. Plus you can heal yourself during combat by quaffing health potions which is another major deviation from the original games and was something I really liked about them. There is a serious flaw with the enemy AI that if you exploit you will be able to kill nearly anything very easily. And supplies are so plentiful you never have to worry about running out of bandages or food or arrows or potions, you won't even have to buy any most likely (you won't have to buy anything for that matter since the best equipment is given as quest rewards so gold is more or less redundant).
The production values of the game are a mixed bag. There are some gorgeous graphics in there, lush environs and beautiful lighting, but they seem to have been nerfed for the 360. I don't know what they've done but everything is sort of … Fuzzy. Presumably they've done it to attain reasonable performance on the 360. Trouble is it hasn't worked. The frame rate is atrocious. I've never known a game run this badly on my 360. The background music is good but there's an annoying audio cracking on the tracks. The voice acting is ok most of the time but it would be better if the actors didn't try to put on stupid accents. The writing is adequate but totally lackluster, and I would have preferred it if they didn't say things like “hay-wire” and “no can do”.
I think the biggest and most disappointing fault is that the game is so linear. There is a large land to roam but you can't just go anywhere you want. You progress through a series of fairly small, linked regions. The path to the next region is always blocked by a rockslide or gate or something, and you have to do a few story missions to allow you access to the next region where you do it all again. You never have to travel back to regions you've already explored. As a result the game has a transitory feel to it. You never get to know any of the regions or characters very well because you're just passing through. It's repetitive and very linear, and almost an insult to the awesome free roaming gameplay of the previous games.
If you couldn't care less about the previous games, and just really love this kind of thing then the game is quite playable. You do get used to the graphics and performance with time. The character screens are attractive and function well with a radial menu system. The controls work fine and you can adjust stick sensitivity. I liked the art design and the monsters. Animations are done very well. There don't appear to be any bugs and all the quests seem to work as they are supposed to (and one or two are even fun). The chase camera isn't adjustable but it follows at a distance I was quite comfortable with. There is no monster respawn (always a blessing), and something I was particularly pleased about is you can turn off quest markers, and unlike a lot of other games that use them this game gives you directions in the journal so you can still find your way to your objective without the marker.
The story is ok in concept but in practice it's laid out very poorly. You spend the first half of the game seeking an ancient temple to find a magic hammer, which ends up being totally pointless! There's no need for the damn thing at all! That's half the game and it's a total waste of time! The second half of the game is trying to save the king from a demon that's possessing him (sounds fine), but it's written so poorly and lacks any impetus. It's just bad storytelling and poor writing. And there seems to be very few side quests which was a let down for me because I'm a quest-a-holic.
So an ok game if you don't expect too much from it and it'll at least keep you busy for a couple of weeks, but it's definitely the weakest game in the series and I'll be very surprised if it isn't the last. If you want to play a Gothic-like game I recommend Risen. It's way more Gothic-like than this.