The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Review
The definition of Rated M for Mature.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings released last year as a PC exclusive title and enjoyed quite a bit of success. The only logical way to follow up their success in the PC market was a console release so CD Projekt did just that. The Enhanced Edition of The Witcher 2, including all the DLC released on the PC, was released on the Xbox 360 this week so we gladly jumped back in the shoes of Geralt of Rivia to check it out.
When starting a new game in The Witcher 2 Assassin’s of Kings Enhanced Edition you’ll be taken through an optional tutorial of the Arena Mode that was added to the PC edition after release. You can skip this but it does offer the best tutorial of the unique combat system you’re going to get so I would recommend checking this out. It will also help to recommend a difficulty level for you to play at, which is helpful because The Witcher 2 is not an easy game. Combat is more about preparation and strategy and you won’t be able to chug twenty healing potions to save yourself.
The story picks up shortly after the events of the first game and you’ll play through a series of flashbacks where Geralt, The Witcher and main character, is taking part in a battle with King Foltest and his armies. These flashbacks take place as Geralt is asked to recount the events of that day as he now stands accused of killing the King. The story is well told and you can truly feel the weight of the lore and history behind everything that the characters are talking about, even if it isn’t spelled out for you right away. The world of The Witcher is happening around you and it’s not concerned with stopping to explain things to you. I loved this method of presentation as it allows you to delve deep into the lore of the world on your own time, or just play through for the action and character’s stories.
Speaking of the story, as you may have heard, the Witcher 2 centers around a very mature story. It is set in a fantasy world but it takes itself quite seriously and deals with murder, betrayal, terrorism, racism and plenty of violence. There is also a fair amount of actual nudity, which sounded gimmicky to me when I first heard about it, but it’s presented in much the same way as a movie would do it so it’s only as forced as you’re already used to it being. The strength of the story is such that you’ll be shocked at first, since this isn’t common in video games, but by the end you’ll forget that nudity was even an issue. In any case, put the kids to be before you load up The Witcher 2. This one is ‘adults only’ for a number of reasons.
What The Witcher 2′s story does better than many games, or movies, or TV shows, is stay realistic within itself. Characters behave in a way that is wholly believable rather than in a way that is convenient to the writer. Geralt is used to some people fearing him and calling him a mutant, but he’s not interested in taking their crap if it holds him up. NPCs who are racist toward elves and dwarfs, don’t magically soften their stance when it’s convenient to the plot, they stick to their guns. This isn’t to say you don’t have freedom of choice, since you have a lot of choices to make, but each option is handled realistically.
So the story is great, but how is the combat? Well, the whole combat and progression system is very complex and, when starting out, it can be quite intimidating. Sure, you can hack, slash, and parry your way to victory if you’re quick, but you can also get deep into creating and drinking potions to prepare for battle. There are also a number of spells available to Geralt and you may find yourself relying on one, or cycling through many in the course of a battle. There is a lot of opportunity to play in the style you want, and to mix and match elements.
Getting around in The Witcher 2 isn’t as fun as the rest of the game as Geralt often can’t jump off of the smallest of ledges so picking your way to your goal can get tiresome as a lot of the areas are criss-crossed by many paths. In some areas you can stray from the paths, and some you can’t. Navigating the menus and inventory can also be a chore as it’s often hard to tell where you are, and the cursor can sometimes be in two places at once which lead me to un-equip gear a number of times when I was trying click on something else in the inventory. These issues aren’t game-breaking but they will upset your otherwise thoroughly enjoyable experience with The Witcher 2.
There are no multiplayer modes in The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition.
The Witcher 2 takes you on one of the most enjoyably adult adventures you’ll ever have in a fantasy RPG. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) will feel right at home with the maturity of this tale and those that prefer action over story can delve deeply into the intricacies of the combat system. There’s a little of something for everyone in The Witcher 2. As long as you’re 18 or older, of course.