Games like The Witcher 2 only come around every once in a while. It’s a game that offers a compelling story where every choice you make matters, a combat system that is unforgiving and tactical, and sex that is used to enhance the story and is not just used for visual pleasure. Those and countless other things make The Witcher 2 different from just about any other game out there. If you own an Xbox 360 or PC and have a love for RPG’s, then The Witcher 2 is a game you just cannot afford to pass up.
Having not played the first game, there’s no way I can really explain to you where the story continues from, so below this paragraph will be a video that details the first game’s events in detail, made from the development team at CD Projekt Red.
Now that you know what the first game was all about we can continue on. The Witcher 2 begins with Geralt in an interrogation room, being questioned about events that occurred in a bloody assault one day before. The events that happened that day thrust you into the middle of a complex plot that has you fighting to redeem your name and help Geralt return to the normal life of a Witcher. Like every other critic has said, this game is not for kids. The Witcher 2 makes you think about every choice you make and doesn’t give you the “If I do this I’m good, if I do this I’m bad” feeling. You make the choices you want to make because it’s the choice you feel is right. Geralt has a reason for every choice he makes and unlike other RPGs, there isn’t a “wrong” choice. One choice can completely alter your storyline.
The thing about The Witcher 2 that really pulls you in though is the characters. The only game I can really think of that made me feel an actual connection between the characters in recent memory that compares to The Witcher 2 would be Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. But even using that game as a comparison is making a far stretch. Every character you meet in The Witcher 2 has their own distinct personality, even just normal soldiers. Some will greet you in a friendly manner and others will tell you to piss off. It truly makes the game’s characters feel alive and human. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t played the game yet; this is a game where you truly need to experience everything for yourself to see just how compelling it really is.
The way dialogue is used is very similar to games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, aside from the fact that there’s no “good” or “bad” choice. The best thing about The Witcher 2‘s dialogue is that you really want to hear everything a character has to say. No one person is boring, and to fully understand who the characters really are that you meet, you’ll want to read up more on them in the in-depth journal in the game that explains events, characters and everything else in more detail.
In terms of gameplay, you’d be hard pressed to find a more tactical RPG out there, in terms of difficulty and your plan of attack, aside from Dark Souls. There is no hand holding whatsoever in The Witcher 2–it’s a game that is full of trial and error and is all the more rewarding when you finally beat a part that you’ve have to work on for a while. This is something the developers wanted in their game. In a recent interview with GameInformer, they stated that gamers miss their difficult games.
” If we lose all difficulty in games, they will be only an interactive movie and not challenges. For us the word “game” implies that you might lose – no pain, no gain. And you get real satisfaction when you overcome the difficulty. In my opinion, games are all about beating the challenge.
Combat in The Witcher 2 is a mix of swordplay, magic, and other tactical options, such as bombs and potions that enhance your skills and abilities. The cinematic kills are brutal, and once again, display why this game is certainly NOT for kids. Hell, the intro video has a gruesome beheading. As I stated above the game is difficult and you will more than likely replay some of the harder fights over and over again until you find a strategy that works to take down your foe. I began my game on the Easy difficulty, but once I learned how the combat works and such I upped the difficulty to normal, which is still plenty hard. I’m not sure how anyone can play this game on the “Dark” difficulty, unless they’ve beaten Dark Souls without a sweat. I did notice that the human enemies’ AI isn’t consistent. Sometimes I’d be surrounded and they’d coordinate their attacks against me, but at other times, I’d be able to just push an enemy to a wall and hack away until I killed him. The monsters however, are a lot more agile and will force you to use spells to trap them, slow them down and, overall, will be the foes that give you the most challenge.
Graphically, The Witcher 2 is beautiful. The world is full of color and varied environments that just really give you the sense of adventure. The Xbox 360 version obviously isn’t as good looking as the PC version, but the margin is pretty thin between the two. The 360 version’s draw distance is marred by a consistent fog in large forests, but in areas that are more open, the game looks fantastic. There are a few graphical glitches here and there with texture pop ins, characters randomly disappearing into thin air, etc. For instance, one time when I was having a conversation in the beginning of the game, Geralt simply vanished. So the person I was talking to seemed to be yelling at a ghost, which was really quite funny. The music is memorable as well, offering a soundtrack that fits perfectly with the lore of the world, and helps to emphasize the more emotional and exciting parts of the game.
The Witcher 2 is a game that sets a new standard for storytelling, character relationships, and choices. It’s a rich RPG than fans of the genre simply cannot pass up, if you’re old enough to play it, of course. The game isn’t perfect, so don’t go in expecting that, as you wouldn’t any game. Still though, The Witcher 2 is definitely a game of the year contender, no doubt about that. If you have a PC powerful enough to play The Witcher 2, that should be your first choice, but as I said, the 360 version is just about as good as the latter.
(Xbox 360 and PC review copies provided by CD Projekt Red and Warner Bros, thanks from Only Single Player!)