Review by CrimsonImpact

"A new, yet familiar experience."

Introduction - Welcome to The Witcher 2. A story driven RPG. Here, you will play as Geralt of Rivia, a type of monster hunter known as a Witcher. While the first game is sometimes referenced in this one, you need not much knowledge, if any at all, of the previous installment. Simply know that previously, Geralt has saved the king Foltest from an assassin, and due to this, was kept around as a bodyguard of sorts.

Gameplay - 9.5 -The Witcher 2 is an Action RPG, in which you are able to freely move about the field, attacking enemies as you see fit. Keep in mind, however, that doing so is not recommended. Simply flailing your sword about will get you killed quite often. The controls can be difficult to get used to, but once you are, you should have no problems. Blocking and rolling are necessities for survival, and the use of other means, such as traps, bombs, and throwing knives, and the Witcher's brand of magic, known as Signs, will help out during each fight, especially when you are surrounded, and even against some bigger opponents. These tools can be put onto a quick bar that allows you to switch between, and use them, with some ease, alongside Signs. This quick select is sometimes troubling, but is also easy to get used to. You are also able to apply oils to your weapons, which each give added effects to said weapon, such as a higher chance to poison an enemy, or doing much more damage to certain enemy types, and you may even drink potions before a battle to boost yourself up further. Potions, which as said before, are drunk before battle, and each applies it's own effect, from an increase in your health regeneration, or added resistance to poison,bleeding and burning effects, and even seeing in the dark, with the added bonus of being able to see living beings through walls. You must balance these, however, as potions also come with side effects, some of which can be devastating if you aren't paying attention. Furthermore, you are only able to drink up to 3 potions at a time, due to a Toxicity level that each potion may have, which will require you to decide very carefully which potions to drink. All of these tools can be bought, and even crafted, if one has the necessary items and diagram for each. These items, ranging from herbs to ores to monster bits, are harvest from their respective plants, caves, and monsters, while some you can also buy from certain merchants, along with diagrams for crafting, which can be expensive. You earn income from clearing side quests, completing hunting missions, selling extra loot you find during your exploration, and even some gambling. Side quests also have another interesting point, which I will get to in a second. The game is very responsive, and, even though at times it will seem like it is fighting against you, the world is big, and there are many things to be slain, as well as many conversations to be had, and conversations are very plenty. Many NPCs you meet will have discussions with you, with topics such as monsters, to life before the war, and sometimes even about alcohol, and you will get to decide how you respond. Do you intimidate the group of men that hurl childish insults at you, or do you tell them to go f...bury themselves? The choice is yours.

Story - 10 - As said previously, you play as Geralt of Rivia, who is in the process of trying to regain his lost memories, while currently keeping his duty to the king, whom he saved from an assassin. However, the king is not the only interesting person in the world nor the most important. Throughout your adventure, you will come across many different people that are pursuing different goals. It will be up to you on who you will help, and how, and those choices will affect you later on. As I said in the previous section, side quests have an interesting point. While they might seem like optional things, your choices can have consequences or rewards later in the future. Some characters may be alive later on, while others may not. You might meet a family later on, grateful that you saved them from bandits. This can put you into a moral dilemma sometimes, but is very nicely used, and rewarding, as you won't always have the same experience through the whole game, which I will touch on later.

Graphics/Sound - 9 - For a game that was ported over from the PC, it looks, and sounds phenomenal. CD Projekt RED has done an excellent job bringing a very good looking game over, all while making very few cuts. The world is big, with many places to explore, and explore you should. While it may not be the prettiest game that console gamers are given, it is still near the top, and details are everywhere. You may find yourself getting lost while looking around, so bring a map. The soundtrack is also wonderful. The music fits the situation, sometimes setting a mood you would otherwise pass over. To add to the ambiance, you will also catch little sounds while you are roaming, from dogs barking in the city, to wolves howling in the woods at night, and citizens chatting up with each other. There are some graphical issues at times, with people warping about, and some popping in from non-existence, but with as much as there is to load in the world, it isn't too bothersome.I will also add that having a bigger TV will make your time a bit easier, as at times, words and numbers are small, making it difficult to see, for those of us with smaller TVs.

Play Time/Replayability - 9 - The game is pretty long, maybe 14 hours or so, more or less depending on if you are rushing through the game, or taking your time, exploring, or causing mayhem. With 2 different sides of a story, based on a choice you make in the first chapter, it is well worth at least 2 playthroughs. Add to that the side quests I mentioned earlier, and you could have a very different world each time you play. Then there is Dark Mode which, if you like achievements, is worth a go, both for the more difficult and challenging experience, but also to see the new gear you have access to for that difficulty.

Final Recommendation - The Witcher 2 brings a refreshed look on Action RPGs, and the game is very much story driven, and the world is heavy with politics, which may confuse some players, and discourage others. I can not recommend it to anyone that just wants to mindlessly hack and slash, but I fully recommend it to those that want their RPGs to have an interesting plot in an interesting world. If you are on the fence, it is worth renting or borrowing from a friend. Either way. it is very much worth the money, for the story and gameplay, but also for the amazing job CD Projekt RED did on bringing this game to consoles.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/26/12

Game Release: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) (US, 04/17/12)

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