Review by LordBeef

"The Witcher 2 has some flaws but I will try to explain why it can still be one of the best games"

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is an RPG featuring an outstanding story and presentation and rather challenging real-time combat.
This review is written for patch 1.2 using a couple of essential mods that I will mention in the review.

Presentation
Flawless sound, music and graphics. There is nothing I can complain about. I haven't played a game with better graphics so far. It ran pretty well even on my old overclocked dual core (@2.4 ghz) with a 60 $ GPU but I had to do some tweaking to get it to work well.

Story
Mature, engaging, well-written story and characters combined with a lot of interesting, impacting choices make this game stand out. Having played Witcher 1 will help you understand the story a bit better but it isn't required. You will also want to play Witcher 2 at least twice to fully grasp the story as you can choose different paths but I can't go into details here without major spoilers.

Gameplay
This will be the main topic of this review as this is the most debated aspect of this game for very good reasons. The game is designed for a controller so I strongly recommend using one. If you have a controller but it isn't compatible with Witcher 2 you may be able to figure out how to emulate an Xbox controller using x360ce like I did. Most quests are pretty fun, but some (for example the dice quests) could use some work to make them more interesting and the rewards for some sidequests are just plain useless. The combat is interesting, rewarding and challenging once you figure it out. It isn't perfect as there are some flaws in the targeting system and many unnecessary annoyances with the interface but overall I enjoyed the gameplay.

Now for the main flaws which most reviewers correctly point out and how to remedy most of them. The main problem of Witcher 2 is that the combat just isn't balanced currently. You start out too weak (which doesn't fit into the story) and if you pick proper talents you will end up way too strong. I recommend using the mods better combat and complete equipment overhaul and also to change the difficulty when necessary (this can be done at any time) to offer you an adequate challenge throughout the game. The interface (especially looting, alchemy, crafting and targeting) can be rather clumsy and to make things worse you will collect tons of useless stuff. I recommend the mods called panel tweaks and hud tweaks for some improvements but in the end some of these problems currently won't go away no matter what you do. I also hope the creators can figure out a way to make crafting and alchemy a bit more fun in Witcher 3 because those two aspects felt like work to me so I skipped them whenever possible. Specializing in alchemy is also problematic because you will not have a chance to use potions in every fight in this game as you need to drink them ahead of combat. The tutorial isn't very helpful and unless you really understand the finer points of the controls they may feel very clumsy and unforgiving. You will need a lot of diligence and be willing to try out a lot of things or you will give up on this game prematurely so let me give you a few hints just in case. Don't get hit in the back or you will die very fast. You need to actively lock on the right target at any time or when you do a weak attack your character may jump into the middle of five enemies and die almost instantly to the extra damage received by being hit in the back. To combo your attacks you need to time them right and press an attack button just before the prior attack connects. I recommend to start combos with aard to break their guard, hit them with one weak blow to close the distance and two strong blows for damage. Quen, yrden and dodging are very important against tough enemies. If you still have trouble you can throw bombs (against groups) or daggers (against single targets) or use traps which are all very strong but I hated crafting so I concentrated on spells and swordfighting.

Conclusion: I gave this game a 10 despite its gameplay flaws because I couldn't think of a better single player game. The story and presentation are perfect. The gameplay needs to be improved, but it's still very enjoyable and better than most other RPGs. If you are not diligent enough or can't figure out how to use mods and a gamepad on your PC then The Witcher 2 may give you too many headaches and you may want to look for a different game for now as I still expect a few more patches that will improve the gameplay (especially the balancing) without mods.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/11

Game Release: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (US, 05/17/11)


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