If last year’s PC release is any indication, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is set to be one of the best Xbox 360 releases of 2012. The original release was deep, lengthy and gorgeous, pulling down over fifty awards in a variety of categories from a wide number of sources, and CD Projekt RED have promised that the console port will live up to that same high watermark of quality. It’s a daunting task, as the game was an intense drain on computer resources, but one that they have undertaken with relish.
The entirety of the original release is present here, as well as extraneous content to appeal to Microsoft’s policy of not accepting a game that was released on another system first without it. This content comes in the form of a new, three minute long opening cinematic as well as a number of extra cutscenes and animations spattered throughout the production to offer a greater sense of the story and plot. Along with this is promised an additional four hours of playable content, including new characters, locations and two new major missions. As if the game wasn’t already worth the price of admission, it will also come with a 100 page manual and a soundtrack CD, making this rerelease an interesting prospect. It should be noted, however, that all new in-game content will be released on the PC on the same day as the 360 version hit’s the market for the ever-so-appealing price of free.
But there is more to this port than just additional content. The team has been working towards it for a rather considerable amount of time, and have put forward a lot of effort in ensuring that it feels natural on the console. This ranges from making the user interface more controller friendly, to a number of tweaks to the camera and combat to achieve much the same end. More importantly is that all of this has been achieved without sacrificing the depth that made the game a favourite of long term RPG fans, and the developers should be applauded for this effort.
Rather than going into any great detail about the gameplay systems, I’ll point you in the direction of Kevin’s review of the game over at our sister site, which will give you a clearer view of what to expect. My apologies for the bluntness of it, but it does the job.
You’ll notice, however, that Kevin barely touched on the story of the game, which is at odds with the significance of it within the scope of the entirety of the product. It follows Geralt of Rivia, as he tries to clear his name of the murder of the king of Temeria. Geralt is a Witcher, a human gifted in certain skills due to supernatural genetic modification, and was a bodyguard of the king that he has been accused of murdering. The game opens as Geralt recounts his tale to a commander of the Temerian forces and, being believed, the two set out together. What follows is a grand quest across the land as they attempt to hunt down the man responsible for the assassination. It’s an engaging narrative that allows players to make choices at certain points, and these have been praised for being morally grey, as opposed to the stark contrasts to be found in most other games.
It’s bound to be an excellent production, but if you’ve already played it, you’re likely better off passing, as the translation to the 360 has necessitated a reduction in the overall resolution and lower quality textures at some points to accommodate for the lesser hardware. The team at CD Projekt RED have confirmed that their main goal is to allow a new audience to experience the game, and this is, at least, has been achieved. It’s set to launch worldwide on the 17th of April. A PS3 version of the game has also been rumoured to be in the works, but the latest official word was not hopeful of the possibility.