The Witcher 2 is the second game in the series developed by CD Projekt RED. Originally released on the PC, the game was praised for its stunning visuals, branching storyline and interesting characters. Since then, the developers have been working hard to bring this huge experience to the Xbox 360, and what a job they have done.
The game sees you step back into the role of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. For those of you that don’t know, a witcher is a human who, after being exposed to various potions and trials mutates. The mutation varies from subject to subject but several attributes are always obtained; superhuman speed, agility, dexterity, metabolism, and the ability to use magic, making them perfect monster hunters.
When the game opens and you are in the frame for the murder of a king. After being interrogated and explaining your side of the story, you are released and you vow to catch the Kingslayer and clear your name. The game then takes you into the Northern Kingdoms and the adventure begins. Along the way Geralt also has to deal with a recent bout of amnesia that has struck him. He will meet new and old friends along the way and this amnesia lets the game reintroduce these characters to newcomers to the Witcher series.
Whilst out on your travels you will witness one of the best looking games currently available on the Xbox 360. From the expansive forests to the Dwarven cities the game looks amazing. The game’s story is dark and complex and aimed at a more adult crowd and it’s great to see considering that so many other games try to pander to as larger crowd as possible.
Many role playing games now have a karma system weaved into the dialogue tree, and when making decisions things are very black and white. Here the decisions you will be making are very grey. You’re rarely sure what decision is the best to make and this makes making the decisions even harder. On more than one occasion I put the controller down and sat there trying to work out in my head what I should do next. These decisions also impact where you go in the world, so depending on who you side with determines which areas of the game you see. This makes subsequent playthroughs a very appealing prospect.
Witchers specialize in three fields: magic, alchemy, and the use of weapons. Weapons include, but aren’t limited to, swords, axes, and range weapons. Magic is used by casting signs and these include telekinesis, fire spells and the ability to have an enemy fight for you for a short period of time. Alchemy allows for the creation of potions, oils, and bombs. All three fields are required to take full advantage of the combat.
The combat in the game is simple but effective. Geralt has a light and heavy attack which gives a fast paced flow to the combat. Just because i say the combat mechanics are simple, don’t think encounters will be, two or three hits will see you reloading your last save. This game wants you to plan your encounters ahead of time by using various potions, oils and other buffs before entering a battle. The game does have a targeting system that helps you stay locked on to a particular target and for the most part this works well, although when encountering large groups, it can be tricky to get the target locked to a certain enemy.
Alchemy is a big part of the game and once you know what you are doing crafting potions and oils will increase your chances of survival. Geralt can craft potions to speed up regeneration of vitality and vigor as well as grant him the ability to see in the dark. Oils are used for weapons to increase damage against specific types of enemies or various other factors like additional poison/bleeding damage. To create these potions and oils, you will need to collect various ingredients whilst exploring the world or buying them from the many vendors in the game. The crafting system is extremely simple too. Select the item you would like to craft and the game will show you if you have all the necessary ingredients, and if not, it will tell you what you need and how much of it.
The skills tree in the game is divided into four branches. At first you only have access to the basic Witcher skills branch. This helps you get use to some of the game mechanics before the alchemy, magic and combat branches open up. These branches enhance Geralt’s abilities, so putting points into the combat branch makes Geralt’s attacks stronger, allowing him to parry attacks as well as granting him access to new moves, whereas putting points into alchemy will increase the duration of potions or their potency.
All of these skills will be needed to fight your way though this epic story. I’m not going to mention any more about the story as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but any game that has me meeting an alcoholic troll is surely worth a play through.
If you haven’t played The Witcher 2 already, go and play it. It is by far one of the best RPGs I have ever played. While not the easiest role to jump into, patient gamers will be rewarded with one of the best RPGs to grace any gaming format. I don’t know how CD Projekt RED managed such an amazing port of a game but they have. The Witcher 2 is a very mature game, not only in content but in its execution.
This game will definitely be on my game of the year list for 2012.
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Review copy provided by idealo.co.uk