Witcher 2 Review
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Witcher 2 without a doubt is a hardcore action RPG that will not hold your hand along the way. Long time fans will feel right at home returning from the original game, whereas first time players to the series have better be prepared to be thrown into a mix of confusion as there will be references mentioned in the storyline that only fans and readers of the books will understand. Players can import their Witcher 1 save files; however, it doesn’t significantly change the game’s world but adds a nice bonus of references from the previous game.
You play as Geralt of Revia, a Witcher (more commonly known as a monster slayer). Geralt is framed of killing a king and escapes prison to pursue the assassin in order to clear his name. Along the way your objective unveils a much grander plot of politics and racism that shakes up the world you play in. Although the choices you make will significantly impact the later chapters, there is no universal morality of right or wrong. Act as you see fit, and the outcomes of your choices are so vastly different that multiple playthroughs would practically be necessary. You will immediately see the difference within chapters when making main quest decisions. While the game’s length is about 25 to 30 hours, completionists can play through additional twenty hours of diverse side quests that will add to understanding the life of a Witcher and how they are perceived.
The gameplay is like any traditional action RPG. Geralt only uses two kinds of swords: A silver sword to slay monsters and the supernatural, and the other sword is for defeating regular enemies. He also has the ability to use spells during combat. Upgrading these abilities and weaponry towards mastering play styles will help make combat easier later on. Be warned however, what makes the game challenging is that potions can only be used before going into combat. This actually forces the player to strategize and prepare before any battle, especially on harder difficulties. For the more ambitious players on the impossible difficulty, the moment you die the game will erase your game save.
The visuals are so gorgeous that most would consider the game to be running on DirectX 11. Surprisingly, it only supports DX9 pushing the graphics and inserting as much as the developers could to make it a believable living world. In addition to a vivid storyline, the developers paid close attention to detail with the characters, enemies and environments within the levels, Rather than a mere copy and paste job, everything seems to be in its natural place within the environment. Lighting also adds to the atmosphere, piercing through trees or casting shadows in a dimly lit room next to a fireplace. This is especially evident in the cinematic in-game cut-scenes. The animation is fluid and natural as ever; you would never have guessed that these were separate animations strung along as one. While the graphics are amazing, the game is resource intensive if you plan on running at the highest settings. I recommend only powerful PCs to get the full experience, but decent PCs with Intel Quad Core processors (or comparative) with 3-4 GB of RAM are still capable of running the game. Although missing lower texture qualities, smaller sources of light shadows, the depth of field and lesser object rendering while roaming the world, the game is still gorgeous.
One of the downsides to this game is the clustered menus to navigate. It could have been made easier to access and actually use the various items and systems. Unfortunately, the game does this un-intuitively and with a complexity that will turn a few players away – which can also be partially attributed to the poor tutorials. The prologue throws you into the game with little back story or reason. Along the way, you’ll be taught the controls and how to use certain menus through text pop ups. The problem is the instructions don’t stay on the screen long enough for you to actually learn them and the only way to view them again is through the awkward menus.
Witcher 2 is one of the more superb RPGs released in recent years. It’s not afraid to push mature content that’s offensive, sexual and, at times, endearing. The plot is expansive as the colourful cast, keeping you on your toes of the schemes and revelations that it presents. The combat is fast paced and the crafting system is worth exploring if you are willing to learn it. Along with the excellent voice acting and storytelling, Witcher 2 is a masterpiece produced by a small development studio. It’s worth checking out by any role-playing fan.
This game receives a 4.5/5.
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