Originally releasing on PC in 2011, the dark and mature RPG, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, finds itself on the Xbox 360. Thankfully this port brings all the intense action and great gameplay that the original PC version has. Polish developer CD Projeckt have done a great job and have even added bonus content for Xbox owners.
The Witcher 2 is an intense story game that focuses around protagonist Geralt of Rivia and his sudden case of amnesia. After passing out in the wilderness, Geralt wakes up in prison being interrogation by Blue Stripes commander, Vernon Roche. During the interrogation, Geralt learns that he has been set up for assassinating King Foltest, the King of Tameria, one of the many kingdoms. After a brief discussion, Roche believes the set up angle and teams up with Geralt to track down the real killer dubbed, The Kingslayer. This sets the stage for a long and bloody story filled with assassination plots, conspiracies and difficult decisions.
Choice is a huge part of The Witcher 2 and is probably its best asset. These choices aren’t like most games, what you pick really does change the game. The Witcher 2 boasts three independent plot lines you can follow with many different endings, so your choice truly does matter. An extremely well done choice mechanic is that some are timed. You don’t get time to think and weigh out your best option, you are sometimes forced to quickly choose and go with your instinct. The separate plot lines and different endings add a enormous replay value to the game.
The Witcher 2 takes place in three acts not including the prolouge. From act to act you travel to different settlements that all feature side quests, interesting characters and story quests. The towns you’ll visit are open world in theory. They are open and you are free to wonder around both the town and outside the walls. In the towns you are free to compete in fist fighting tournaments, playing dice poker and arm wrestling. Outside the towns you’ll be hunting ghosts, looking for lost people and killing many, many monsters.
The gameplay in Witcher 2 is strong, but it will take an hour or two to adjust. You’ll notice that when you start playing the game is actually quite hard, so you’ll need to use everything at your disposal. Geralt is capable of setting traps, casting magic spells, using his sword and throwing bombs and knives. At the start of the game you’ll need all of it. Towards the end you needn’t bother because you’ll be killing everything with one swift blow. I’m not sure if this is pacing issues or difficulty issues, so if you’re good at games I’d recommend a higher difficulty. While the gameplay is smooth and extremely fluid it’s arguably the weakest part of the game. It’s extremely repetitive and stinks of micro-management. If you want to use potions to make you deal more damage or have more health, you have to do it before a battle in meditation mode. Then you have to slot different knives and bombs, and you’ll have to pause the game slightly to select what magic you want to use.
The Witcher 2 features a vast creation system where you can create potions, armour and weapons. You collect the necessary parts and you can create them yourself or have a blacksmith make them for you. The system is great and encourages players to collect items while playing to turn them into bigger and better items. My only gripe is that it can seem a little too confusing, which is combated with a huge in game encyclopaedia type journal with all the characters you’ve met, missions completed and all the games items and ingredients. If you spend the time to play around and learn about the creation system, you will heavily rewarded. Like most RPG’s whenever you do anything you are rewarded with XP points. Witcher 2 has a level up system where you select traits and perks to improve Geralt. You can improve sword combat, magic and crafting. You won’t be able to complete them all in one play through, which encourages different players to come back and maybe play more of a magic character than a swordsman and vice versa.
For being a port the graphics and presentation of Witcher 2 are almost perfect. Some aspects of the game such as the map still look like they’re meant for PC only, but most other parts have been tuned perfectly for an Xbox 360. The game looks great with minimal pop in and texture problems. The sound is also great with a epic orchestral music mixed in with rock guitars and drums. The voice acting is also top notch.
The Witcher 2 is a great game, it has an dark and mature story and solid gameplay. The only main issue is the lack of substance. While it has an epic storyline, the core gameplay is quite repetitive and it’s sometimes boring to walk around the world for hours. The best part of Witcher 2 is the story and the many, many important choices you make along it. Those who are fans of story games will not be disappointed but those coming in planning to skip the story will be let down. Overall, The Witcher 2 is a great game and a great port that should be played my fans of RPG’s and story games, if you’re looking for dark and mature content, The Witcher 2 has it all.