The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition PC Review
Peter Donnell / 370 days ago
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is an epic third person RPG and the sequel to the brilliant 2007 game The Witcher from the now well known Polish studio CD Projekt RED , the game its self is based on the book series The Witcher by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
This week I am reviewing the Enhanced Edition for PC, an updated version of the game that added a whopping 10GB of new content, that comes with everything from four hours of extra gameplay, over half an hour of new cut-scenes that give the game new intro and outro movies, bug fixes and tweaks to the interface. The game is of course also available for the Xbox 360, new copies are now pre-loaded with the gargantuan title update.
There have been a lot of changes since the first game, not counting the extra changes from the title update, the main one being a departure from BioWares Aurora Engine, instead favouring their own in-house game engine which incorporates the Havok physics engine, both of which add up to making this game look nothing short of fantastic, with detailed textures and powerful lighting systems in place, lots of on screen characters and great animation helping to bring the world to life in this magical title, also while the game plays well enough as a standalone, great for people who haven’t played or don’t want to play the original, you do have the option to import your game saves from the first title, I didn’t have this luxury available, but its nice that the option is catered for.
Combat and movement have also seen extensive overhauls this time around, with the keyboard being kept for movement and the mouse for combat, choosing a typical WSAD format for running / walking, with the left mouse button set to a fast and light attack and the right mouse button for a slower heavy attack. A quick double tap of any of the WASD keys or the space bar results in a swift roll in the chosen direction, allowing you to evade with ease while keeping a lock on your foe and dishing out attacks. You can now also lay traps and throw ranged weapons such as daggers, as well as the obvious magic casting, allowing you to boost your armour, launch fire attacks, stun enemies and much more.
Even with all these changes that help to make combat swift and action packed, it doesn’t make it any easier, The Witcher 2 is a cruel game when it comes to combat and your foes won’t hesitate to cut you to pieces. You still have your drone soldiers who you can cut through like a hot knife through butter, but skilled swords men, archers, deadly beasts and more are in no short supply, making the PC gamers favourite “quicksave / quickload” combo absolutely vital, you will be seeing plenty of the game over screen regardless.
While this game does have Xbox 360 controller support on the PC, its almost worth not bothering, it does make it easier to put your feet up when you just want to run around and explore, but for the life of me I couldn’t get the inventory menus to work properly and the whole thing just felt poorly integrated, as soon as I switched over to keyboard and mouse the game started working a lot better for me, but I was still having troubles with the menu screens as this game doesn’t have the most intuitive user interface, after a while I was starting to appreciate that the Skyrim UI really wasn’t that bad.
The game starts with a fantastic cut-scene, depicting a scene on a ship of a king being entertained by his servants with a display of dancing, stunts and music, that is until an assassin ruins his day, his ship, his crew and of course ends his life, it’s the first taste of the games story you get, with superb CGI graphics its hard not to fall in love with the look and the style of the game, not to mention its humour and brutal story telling, its not everyday you get a scene that contains both a fart being lit on fire and a beheading.
There are several routes through the game, that can results in one of several endings to the game, no spoilers on this one though as the whole point of this sort of game is to find that kind of detail out for yourself. But taking the role of Geralt of Rivia, one of the worlds few remaining witchers, a race of humans that have undergone genetic enhancement for the purpose of fighting monsters through the use of special abilities such as alchemy, magic and swordplay.
The game its self kicks off properly with an extensive prologue, depicting Geralts interrogation by Vernon Roche, a member of a group of elite soldiers called the Blue Stripes. You stand accused of the assassination of King Foltest, with Geralt explaining his side of the story and the event leading up to him being imprisoned, you of course get to play out these events, following the king into battle with the mission of recovering Foltest’s illegitimate children back from the rebels. This all serves as a superb warm up for the game, while it is a very linear section of the game it serves its purpose well at bringing you up to speed with the games mechanics and story line.
This wouldn’t be much of an RPG if there wasn’t extensive options for leveling up your character, applying the usual perk / skill points, crafting, moddifying and enchanting weapons, plenty of loot for you to equip and sell and a whole host of potions to brew that give you perks both in and out of the battlefield, this is common RPG territory with all the basics covered, some of the interfaces for these could have been better though, things like the alchemy screen can be a royal pain at the best of times, at least in my opinion.
The games environment are stunningly detailed, with lots of sparkle and glaring light casting stunning rays of light through the rough wood and muddy castles, making even the most drab parts of the populated world come to life and look magical, with many a stunning forest, mountain or battle offering a great view for most part of the game.
The game is essentially open world, but rather than the vast open fields of Skyrim the pace of the gameplay feels a lot more like Fable II, so while there are lots of things to explore and discover you feel compelled to follow the quest markers. I do urge you to explore this game and speak to the games many colourful inhabitants though, wouldn’t want to miss an arm wrestling contest with a dwarf or a boxing match with a man named Fliparse would you?
Speaking of boxing, the game also managed to mix in a few quick time event battles, allowing for some up close hand to hand scenes, quick time events are stupid at the best of time but this game does we’ll to use them sparingly and in good context.
CD Projekt RED have really out done them selves with The Witcher 2, while some of the game does feel a little unrefined its still a massive leap forward from its predecessor, giving you a well realised world, populated with well voice acted and colourful characters, many of which come out with some of the most hilarious quotes I’ve ever heard from a game, absolutely non of which I can quote here due to the obscenities involved, there might be children reading!
While the game isn’t perfect, its a very competent RPG that you can easily get lost in for hours on end, while it doesn’t have the polish that you find in games like Skyrim and Fable it comes damn close and that’s good enough in my opinion. I highly recommend this game to anyone who loves a challenging game that isn’t afraid to cover adult themes, which is why I’m awarding The Witcher 2 our Gamers Choice Award.
I’ve made a little video from some of the early moments within the game, I’ve kept it spoiler free, I also had to edit out a fair amount of swearing and some female nudity, but you can view what is remaining in the video below.