Game Play: Bewitched by ‘Witcher 2’

“The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” was released by the relatively unknown Polish developer CD Project RED in 2011 for the PC, and though not as commercially successful or well known as other similar titles it managed to be one of the greatest games of its genre that I’ve ever played.

In the months following its release CD Project RED treated fans with updates addressing its difficulty in the opening levels, added an even harder “Dark” difficulty, comprehensive tutorial, and even threw in a multi-tiered arena for good measure. All these features have been packaged together with the game in the port to the Xbox 360, “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition.”

First and foremost I wish to address the undue griping about the reduced graphics between the PC release and the Xbox 360 port, only because the griping has been quite extensive.
Rare is the console port able to live up to the over-the-top visuals of a high-end personal computer, especially when cranked up to its highest settings — and at its highest settings this game was absolutely gorgeous in every sense of the word.

But even with a dip in the level of detail and the exclusion of a few aesthetic animations, “The Witcher 2” still looks great and is visually on par with or surpasses most other games of its kind on the system.

As mentioned earlier, the game itself is superb. The story revolves around Geralt of Rivia, a witcher.

Witchers are mutated monster-slayers trained and augmented since a young age to track and kill any number of creatures using their signature silver sword and witcher magics, known as “signs.”

Following the events of the original “Witcher,” released for PC in 2007, Geralt finds himself investigating the sudden deaths of kings of neighboring countries.

As Geralt, players have an assortment of weapons at their disposal to combat the many adversaries they’ll encounter, including a silver sword for monsters, a steel sword for humans, magic in the form of witcher signs, thrown weapons, and traps, all of which can be accessed on the fly through a time-slowing radial wheel.

Combat is fluid and the controls are responsive, though targeting your intended target can be a bit finicky when fighting multiple opponents. The camera can also be a real pain in the rear when backed into a corner.

Enemies are varied and vicious, and when played on the higher difficulty settings will require every ounce of your skill and arsenal to defeat. Boss battles are few and far between but can be quite exhilarating, especially the larger scale fights.

Though it’s not the open sandbox world of other fantasy RPGs, the game isn’t entirely linear either, especially once the player reaches some of the larger towns and starts picking up a good number of side quests.

Lastly, it should be mentioned that this game is in no way intended for the underaged and goes a long way to earn its M-rating, especially in regards to the graphic nudity the game does not shy away from.

For those with a high-end PC on the fence about whether to get “The Witcher 2” on PC or Xbox 360, stick with the PC and you won’t be disappointed. But the console version still holds its own and is a must have for any RPG fan.

 

4.5 joysticks out of 5