Gothic 3: The Beginning

We often characterise the mobile gaming market as being somewhat casual - ready for a couple of minutes fun but little else. To that extent, Gothic 3: The Beginning is the antithesis of the likes of Bobby Carrot, Granny in Paradise and Brain Coach.

In fact, as mobile games go it's actually impressively large - over 50 levels - and reasonably graphically pretty, but, be warned, it is an role-playing game, and one that has the distinct flavour of a classic text adventure. Based on the universe of the Gothic PC titles, it casts you back to a world of orcs and warriors, and rooms littered with barrels and chests containing gold and swords.

From the outset you're bombarded with text, menu screens, inventories, potions and weapon upgrades, so if you're expecting constant action and immediate accessibility go elsewhere for your kicks. This is one for the RPG fan, but for that market it's a well-realised title with plenty of intelligent design.

You step into the shoes, or more likely leather sandals, of the very muscular young Xardas, who has been mysteriously selected by God Innos of the Island of Kohrinis to seek out a set of magic rune stones. Words such as Xardas are enough of a clue; this is a game for those who like to slay dragons and parade in armour, meaning most of the action tends to focus on strategic real-time battles, exploration and conversation with ne'er-do-wells and vagabonds.

At the start of the game, you do get the choice of a melée fighter, ranged weapon fighter or magician - whichever particular style of fighting takes your fancy. During the game, you'll get to level up, as well as building up attributes such as strength, dexterity, hit points and mana, and the four weapon-based skills plus lock-picking. And if that isn't enough customisation, there are also 28 weapons and ten types of armour to get kitted out in.

Sadly though for a game with so much text and chatting to be done, the scriptwriting is fairly uninspiring, and the German-to-English translation is peppered with grammatical mistakes. You'll also spend too much time faced with loading screens - Gothic 3 is paced relatively slowly, meaning it's better suited to relaxing on the sofa than taking your mind off an uncomfortable bus seat.

Still, Gothic 3 will certainly suit those reared on an age of gaming past. It's something of an acquired taste, but as mobile RPG's go it's sizeable - it will take you over five hours to hack through - and backed up by workable controls, some great audio, and gameplay mechanics that do very well at roping you in.

And while it might be linear, there's a definite sense you're picking your way through your own path, unveiling side quests and exploring an open world. Gothic 3 is generally free from statistics, and the random battles are blissfully optional too, so if you're keen enough, once you've recovered Innos's runes you can go back to, *ahem*, The Beginning, and do it all again. (-10 writing skill points - DM Ed).

Gothic 3: The Beginning

Gothic 3 might something of an old-fashioned game, but as mobile RPGs go it's a good sized adventure and packed with enough orcs and gold for the most dedicated fantasy fan