Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for PC

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Title: The Witcher 2: Assassin’s of Kings
Price: $49.99 (list price)
System(s): PC (coming soon to Xbox 360)
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Publisher (Developer): CD Projekt Red (CD Projekt Red)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content and use of drugs.
Pros: Graphically stunning even with settings at low, great and dark story, muddy morality system adds a lot of depth and replayability to the game, ability to import saves from the original game.
Cons: Targeting system suffers from ADD and will lead to your death repeatedly, inventory system is confusing, awkward keyboard controls, no fast travel or transportation.
Overall Score: One thumb up and one thumb sideways; 84/100; B, *** out of five.

My experience with The Witcher games started off with the Polish books. They’re a lot of fun and have compelling stories. So, when I realized that there were games out, they quickly caught my eye.

Sure, the original game appealed for the hardest of the hardcore RPG players. So it was a niche game. It was a great game but still a niche game nonetheless. It’s not for everyone. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings really hammers that point home. However, there’s something about it that works on so many levels. It was also the game that was gifted to President Obama by the President of Poland.

For Honor and Victory

The story of The Witcher 2 is simple. Someone killed your king. You were accused of the murder. You break out of prison and try to find the actual assassin so that you can clear your name while trying to inspire balance between the kingdoms and races if peace cannot be reached. After all, the world you’re in is one on the brink of total war between the different kingdom. It’s also on the brink of an all out race war. There’s also the fact that your character suffers from amnesia. So, aside from clearing your name, you’re trying to find your past.

Polish development company CD Projekt Red really did a lot well. One of the best things though is the graphics. Even at its lowest settings, everything is beautifully rendered. Now I’m not talking about the nudity, although if you play it right you will see quite a bit of that. I’m talking about, well, everything.

This includes nature, buildings, monsters, etc. Everything is beautifully rendered. It really is awe-inspiring with the level of detail that you can get with the game if you’ve got a machine that can actually handle it. Just be forewarned, this game is VERY demanding in terms of specs.

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The other big highlight for the game is the story, which also ties into the dialogue/morality system. The game is pretty long. If you count the Prologue and Epilogue, it’s a five chapter game with side quests continually popping up due to town demands or different rumors that pop up. Since you’re a fugitive, you’ll also repeatedly run into bounty hunters who will try to either beat you into submission or kill you. However, aside from that you’re trying to clear your name and bring peace to the northern regions of your land, which borders on civil war due to the murder of the king. The dialogue system works well while bringing in a moral structure that is full of shades of grey and your choices, while holding actual weight, take time to build up their effects. Story, dialogue and the muddy morality system where no choice is obviously good or evil all work together to add in a lot of replayability and atmosphere.

If you’ve got the original game, much like in Mass Effect, you can import your saves into The Witcher 2. While you don’t need to, it fleshes out the story a bit more. It also might change some of the reoccurring characters since some might already be dead. While it isn’t a necessary feature in any game, it’s definitely good when you can play games and see the long reaching effects of your choices and actions. If The Witcher 3 is in development, chances are this feature will return. So we might not even see the full effect of choices made in the original game until then. It’s still nice to try to see how the world starts shaping due to your actions or neglect.

Fall On Your Sword

While there is that much good, there is some stuff that will lead to a lot of problems.

For one, at least with keyboard controls, the targeting system for combat seems to suffer from ADD. You could be in the middle of attacking a near-dead enemy and without provocation, the targeting system will change the target to something far away with full health and you lunge for the new target mid-swing, which allows the enemy you would’ve otherwise killed to hit you, sometimes multiple times. Since you’re not able to use potions during battles, this means that the targeting system can and will lead to your death. At least in terms of keyboard controls, the targeting system is broken.

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The inventory system is confusing. OK. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just takes getting used to and ultimately ends up feeling like busy work until you’re used to it. It isn’t a very good sign when even going through your inventory to equip, un-equip, sell or drop stuff ends up feeling like busy work.

The game is designed to be played with a game controller. If you’re playing it with a keyboard, dear god. While it doesn’t get as ridiculous as some games, it’s still pretty bad. If you’ve got a game controller though, you’re set.

The world is big and beautiful. However, there are points where it might be too big as strange as that sounds. It could benefit from the addition of some things like fast travel or the availability of transportation when you’re on land. Due to a lack of these things, even if you’ve already discovered the places, it makes the pace of the game very deliberate. Then again, the plot is very deliberate in itself. So I guess it kind of works. It could just be that I was spoiled through having things The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Depends on How You Look At It

It really does. It’s a very deliberately paced game. If you like highly detail plots that take a lot of time to flesh out even your own choices, this game will be right up your alley. If you’re not a PC gamer and are interested in this kind of game or the keyboard controls are too big of an issue, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will be ported to the Xbox 360 by the end of the year.

If the flaws are too much for you, don’t get it. It’s not a game for everyone. It might be a great game, even with its flaws, but it’s a game that will appeal mostly to the hardest of the hardcore RPG players.

Site [The Witcher 2: Assassin's of Kings]

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