Monday, 3 October 2011

Review: The Witcher 2

In a day of casual role playing games the Witcher 2 manages to rise above the trend of simplified RPGs to deliver a deep yet accessible experience. Players assume the role of Geralt a scarred and weary Witcher that is not interested in politics but keeps getting dragged into the middle of major events. Witchers are professional monster hunters and throughout the game you will fight plenty of interesting monsters as well as many humans. Over the course of the game players will level up and gain points to put into new abilities and gain new and powerful items. The combat is hard to get used to and the targeting can be frustrating but once mastered is great fun and looks awesome.
Witchers may be mutants but in many ways Geralt is more human than the other characters, even if he is scarred mentally and physically.

Combat revolves around swordsmanship, alchemy and magic. Players have access to all three disciplines however will only have the chance to specialise completely in one over a single game. At first mixing together blocks, spells, traps and potions is necessary for survival, but as you level up certain powers can become overpowered and so less strategy is required. This can make the game after chapter one relatively easy except for some tough boss fights. The yrden sign can definitely become too powerful; protecting you from damage and hurting anyone who attacks you.
Boss fights can be difficult and frustrating but are satisfying in the end.

There is an in depth tool crafting and potion making system that for the most part works but means that you have to carry around lots of ingredients; which fill up your inventory and it’s difficult to know what you can drop. All too often you have to drop twenty of this or that to make room for new items. But finding recipes and crafting items gives you a sense of accomplishment not often found in other games that give a new and powerful weapon after every quest.

The Witcher 2 is one of the most beautiful games ever made with a dense rich world full of lore and interesting characters. Conversations are a big part of the Witcher 2 and whilst the faces are quite expressionless this is made up for by generally superb voice acting. Players may find Geralt a bit bland but it fits his character as a social outcast, generally shunned by everyone.
The main characters may not be trustworthy but are all very likable.

Each chapter is located in a unique environment; from a castle in the prologue to a sprawling human camp, a dwarven stronghold and an ancient elven city later in the game. At the end of chapter one players make a huge decision that affects the location in chapter two and how the rest of the game unfolds. This is one of many examples of the dedication the developers put into the world that they didn't expect everyone to see it all in one play through.

The Witcher 2 comes very close to achieving perfection however just falls short. Chapter three and the epilogue are very short compared to the other portions of the game. Quite soon into chapter three it will feel like you are being funnelled towards the climax hardly giving you time to use or assemble the new loot you acquire. It’s still very fun and more story orientated but given the depth of other chapters it is a bit of a letdown. 
The environments are vast and beautiful.

Overall The Witcher 2 is great, multiple play throughs are required to see everything and you will want to see everything. Future free DLC and expansion packs will keep people coming back to the Witcher 2.

The Witcher 2 is the best role-playing game I've played for years; offering a rich world, likable yet flawed characters and a depth not often found anymore. For that I give the Witcher 2:

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