When you think of sleeper hits in the game industry, what do you think of? House of the Dead Overkill? Beyond Good and Evil? Maybe, Earthbound, Catherine, or Rayman Origins? These are all great games that were really popular, but were pretty much overshadowed by much bigger titles. The Witcher 2 is such a title, a sequel to an average action RPG based on a series of fantasy novels that was released in 2011 for the PC only. It was generally praised for its dark storyline, amazing graphics (they are really beautiful), and the improved combat mechanics that were easier to handle than, say, Golden Axe Beast Rider or the first Witcher. It was, however, criticized for some user interface problems, tedious difficulty, terrible tutorial, and a disappointing ending. I am not a PC gamer, but a leader tester I worked under said it was his favorite game. Patches have come and gone, and made the game much better. It is now on the Xbox 360 under the title, Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Premium Edition. It has also been re-released for the PC and I’m glad I can now play it to see if the improved package is worthy of probably one of the last amazing games for the 360. Let us get started then.
Doug Cockle voices our main hero, Geralt of Rivia. After aiding a king in a battle, another Witcher named Letho, voiced by Mark Lewis Jones kills the king that Geralt of Rivia was protecting, leaving Geralt to be framed for the king’s murder. After escaping with a sorceress named Triss Merigold, voiced by Jaimi Barbakoff, and another one of the king’s ex personnel, Vernon Roche, voiced by Mark Healy, they set off across the land to find the killer who is now known as the Kingslayer. The story is dark, sex-filled, gritty, and political overtones pound you over the head. It is a rather interesting story, even if a few areas are a bit slower paced than they should be. A lot of the more interesting stories come in the form of side quests and they can have some really gruesome outcomes. There is even a major part early in the game that will change everything if you make one choice or the other. This game should not appear in your 13-year-old boy’s collection. It is a very adult and mature game.
The gameplay for the few adult gamers who have yet to play this title is an action RPG with a certain kind of free roaming aspect to it. Even though I just said this game does have free roaming aspects in it, the story is pretty linear to where if you didn’t finish any missions in one chapter, you can’t go back and complete them. This kind of sucks since a couple of the side quests are really worth doing to see some of the outcomes of them. Anyway, combat is action-oriented, but is not like God of War or Kingdom of Amalur’s fighting style. You’ve got two swords, a steel sword and silver sword. The steel sword is more effective against human opponents while the silver sword is more effective against monsters. You will go through a prologue, 3 chapters, and an epilogue fighting your way through what the game has to offer from enemy soldiers to trolls to even a dragon at one point. You also get Witcher signs that give you different magical abilities, including shooting fire, making a helpful shield around you, and even taking control of an enemy that will fight its comrades until the spell wears off or you attack them. There are other things to do, like alchemy, crafting, side quest objectives, arm wrestling, fistfights, and dice rolling. Now, a lot of the press has talked about the adult and graphic sex scenes within Witcher 2. I have seen a couple of them in my playthrough of the game, but they are not THAT graphic, but there IS almost full nudity. You definitely won’t be seeing this much skin in a Bioware RPG, though I don’t think it teeters on hardcore pornography either due to the fact that the scenes are in small clips and are not that long. You will have a lot to do here, and going through some of the side quests and the main quest will take you about 30 hours or more if you want to do everything since this game does take the Bioware route and have multiple paths, results, and endings. The difficulty was infamous when this game came out in 2011 and while it isn’t that hard now if you play the easy mode, don’t think you are a total awesome action hero and can kill 50 men in one go. This isn’t Dynasty Warriors, and if you are not fully prepared, you will get your butt handed to you.
Graphically, it looks great on the Xbox360. I know the superior looking version is on the PC, but I am not going to toss down 2 thousand dollars for a huge graphically impressive computer. The graphics on the 360 still look good, even if there are some texture loading problems and a couple of other glitches I have found while playing through this game. The music is amazing. It is by far one of the best parts of this game’s presentation. There are also some pretty funny jokes thrown in from time to time, mostly making fun of the Lord of the Rings series, and you will even see a joke made with the Assassin’s Creed character, but you will have to see that for yourself.
So, wow, this game sounds amazing and perfect, what could be wrong with it? For one, I got a little bored playing through it, and I think it’s because of the adult political theme of this game. Don’t get me wrong, it can be very enjoyable, but I am not a big politics guy and a lot of the scenes can go on for some time. I mean, yeah, RPG’s like Paper Mario can be wordy, but oh my goodness, tell the characters in the Witcher 2 to limit their speeches. Again, don’t think I fully hate the story. I think it is rather nice that the developer decided to treat the gamers who bought this game like adults, but when conversations go on for what seems like 10 minutes each, you can get bored quickly. I think the boringness comes in again when there are only about 5 or so bosses in the game. I’m sorry, but when I play an RPG, I expect more bosses! Another thing that makes this game boring is that there is barely anything going on in the maps of the chapters. I mean, there are side quests and the main towns, but when you look at games like Xenoblade Chronicles and Kingdoms of Amalur, there is stuff happening everywhere you go. You can easily not run into an enemy if you are careful enough. You can’t just tempt me with beautiful backgrounds, Witcher 2! I also ran into a couple glitches, like some minor texture loading issues that the Xbox360 seems to have a lot of problems with and even a couple weird game stoppers. An example of one that kept crashing my game was while I was trying to enter a fortress in Chapter 2 to save an ally. It would stop me from progressing from a minor cut scene because I had my sword out. That doesn’t make any sense!
Even though this game does have graphical and game-breaking glitches, and a slow-paced and sometimes boring story, Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings game is one of the best RPG’s out there. You can either get this game for your PC or your Xbox360. The Enhanced Edition comes on two discs and comes with a quest book and a soundtrack for the game on the 360. You can either wait for the game to drop in price or get it right now if you are tired of playing Call of Duty: Modern Black Ops 9. Even though I probably prefer Xenoblade Chronicles and Kingdoms of Amalur, I would still recommend getting this game for your collection if you have not played this game yet. Let’s hope we can meet our favorite white-haired Witcher again in Witcher 3.
This game gets a solid 8 out of 10