So after a year of PC exclusivity the Witcher 2 finally makes it onto consoles with the 360 version of the enhanced edition. I’ve had my eye on this game since it’s announcement and re-purchased a 360 in order to play it. It was worth it. The Witcher 2 is a fantastic game in so many ways and one of the few games in recent memory to live up my expectations, no small feet considering how long I’d wished to play it. Everything about the game is a testament to the passion shown by the developers CD project, a Polish company who rose to prominence after the first games release.
The game is an action RPG with elements from many triple A titles released over the past years. Fans of Mass Effect, Arkham City and Dark Souls will find many familiar gameplay mechanics but the Witcher 2 makes them it’s own. In terms of the core gameplay I suppose the closest thing it resembles would be a more adult themed Fable, albeit it’s a far better game than Peter Molyneux’s RPG offering.
It tells the tale of one Geralt of Rivea a Witcher - monster slayer for hire - who seeks out the assassin of one of the many Kings who rule over the land of Temeria. Framed for the Kings murder the game sees the player try and clear Geralt’s name and uncover the plot behind the assassination. As game narratives goes this is excellent and the story is full of fantastic characters and plot twists that make the game hard to put down. Fans of the narrative style of Mass Effect will find much to like and the decisions you must take aren’t the black and white affairs of Bioware’s game. The characters are great especially Triss Merigold Geralt’s love interest but the world is full of believable characters you’ll both love, and love to hate.
The environments are excellent and the games varied locations feel like living breathing places. Graphically the game is a triumph on the 360 and stands amongst the very best games the system has to offer. It’s an amazing visual experience and doesn’t come at any cost to performance with the game remaining very close to a consistent 30fps. There is some texture popup and the odd visual glitch but when you consider what the game is presenting these are easy to forgive.
It’s an amazing package and the games story warrants multiple play-throughs as certain decisions taken, and loyalties to some characters and not others, result in very different outcomes. It’s one of the few games I’ve played where I almost immediately went back for a second play-through after completing it the first time.
It’s true that there are some frustrations to overcome when playing. Notably the games difficulty level which can lead to some seriously unforgiving encounters and an auto save system that’s as bad as the one found in the original Mass Effect. I actually dropped the game down to easy in the beginning so as I could just enjoy the story without having to worry to much about the danger posed by enemies but even then it was far from a breeze. If there was one major element that needed improvement in any future games it would be the combat. It’s good but with a bit more development it could be great.
In conclusion the game is excellent. One of the best story driven gaming experiences on any system and I can’t wait to play the next in the series. Hopefully we’ll hear more about that at this years E3 expo.