Developed by:CD Projekt RED Published by:Warner Bros. Interactive Genre(s):
  • Action RPG
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1 Release date:April 17, 2012 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition

    I’m so glad that CD Projekt RED and Warner Bros. decided to bring The Witcher 2 to the Xbox 360. Now all the gamers who weren’t able to play this amazing game when it came out on the PC can get their hands on it. Not only are they getting one of the best action RPGs available, but they are also getting the most updated version of the game. This is the closest a console title has been to matching the quality of its PC counter-part!

    The Witcher 2 follows the story of Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher for hire. Witchers are warrior monks that have been mutated (through unknown means) and trained to battle monsters from a young age. Although they are disrespected by some and feared by many, they fight against evil. They are to this game how Jedi are to Star Wars, and Geralt is one of the baddest Witchers around. At least…that’s what we’d like to think. You see, the game opens up with Geralt behind bars. A powerful enemy has started assassinating Kings; the opening cinematic shows how he can easily take out multiple foes before perusing his target. Rumor has it that the assassin is a Witcher and Geralt happens to be the prime suspect. Understandable, seeing as how Geralt was the last person to be seen with the King of Temeria (the latest victim) before his death!

    The Witcher 2’s story is epic to say the least; it is riddled with secret societies, corrupt officials, racism, sex, drugs, and more. The narrative sucked me in at the start of the game and didn’t let go till the credits rolled. What really makes the story shine though is in the use of creative writing, both within the story itself and through the clever script. The twists aren’t as predictable as one would expect from a modern RPG; the fact that they aren’t “eye-roll” inducing is worth a mention alone. Even though the dialogue can be lewd at times, it’s charming in its own way. Moreover, the voice acting is well done and truly helps you to become more engrossed in the story. Not quite as good as a hit HBO television series (Deadwood, Game of Thrones) but it’s still up there in quality.

    While I love the story presented here, the way it concluded was rather disappointing. Over the course of the game the narrative shot for the stars, steady building my anticipation for what was surly going to be a climactic end. The whole time I was making little decisions that lead to greater changes that realistically progressed the story from one chapter to the next. This is why I am baffled by the way CD Projekt decided to end the story. I am mostly bothered by how the loose ends were tied up. The plans, intents, and motivations of key characters as well as who was behind the assassinations from the start are literally fed to you in one dialogue. Since when was it a good idea to have one character explain an entire story arc in one sitting? What’s worse is that it’s completely optional, meaning you could accidently skip it and not learn why things happened the way they did. To be fair, I’ve only seen one ending and circumstances might have been different if I chose a different path. Still, it’s not like I got some abstract, secret conclusion. There is a good chance you’ll see exactly what I saw during your play through!

    So far I’ve talked about the story and how it was great, yet concluded in a somewhat flawed manner. I felt the same way about the gameplay mechanics; the combat alone should be experienced by all those who claim to love action RPG’s. Every clash, whether you’re fighting enemy soldiers or giant monsters, is challenging; death will come quick if you just button mash. At the same time, you are always given a fair fight. Very rarely did I feel like the game ramped up the difficulty using cheap tactics. With the correct use of my acquired abilities I could survive almost any encounter. For instance, take one battle I had with a few heavily armed enemies. I was repeatedly bested by them, their numbers and tactics (they would try to surround me) made sure of this. Instead of just running in, sword flailing, I decided to change Geralt’s Sign (simple spells that Witchers can cast). Holding the left bumper during battle will slow down time, allowing you to designate a different Sign. By switching what Sign was equipped I drastically changed the flow of the fight. Using the pushing force of the Aard Sign, I was able to knock down the stronger enemies giving me enough time to take down their weaker companions. Then I added in some rolls to easily dodge attacks and position myself for quick kills. Utilizing the environment was also a useful tactic; I often lured enemies into the right position to be blasted off the side of a cliff. As I leveled up, I learned more skills that made this type of forward thinking more rewarding. Awesome!

    Being able to get past tough enemies was greatly helped by the fact that the controls are well-mapped. If you never played the original PC version, you’d swear it was console game from the start. It was nothing to set a foe on fire, throw a dagger at another and block an incoming attack in quick succession. I really felt like a Witcher at times; I was all like “don’t you know who I am? I’m the WITCHER B@#$%!”. Jokes aside, the game was still challenging as I was never truly super human. This balancing of strategic gameplay and all out action made for one enjoyable experience. My only real complaint here was how the use of potions was handled. Similar to the first Witcher title, gamers can only use potions when meditating. You can only meditate when you’re not in a dangerous area or in direct combat. When you do use a potion with health related properties, it’s used like a buff. Meaning that it doesn’t replenish your health but instead, gives you a health bonus (like speeding up Geralt’s health regeneration) lasting a set amount of time. It seems like the developer wants gamers to prepare themselves for battles and to think ahead. I assume they don’t really want gamers to just spam health potions to get past tough encounters. That’s fine, but this isn’t the best way of handling it. One reason is that the game doesn’t inform you of when a fight is coming. At times you are thrown into a difficult battle with no prior time to prepare. Even if you know a fight is coming (like when the game hints at a boss encounter) sometimes the story will get in the way. I used two potions, buffing my health and attack power, only to have them wasted because the story required me to reenact past events before getting to the main fight. This mechanic can be frustrating since the only real way to “prepare” is to be killed in a tough battle, reload a save point right before the fight started, and then meditate.

    Graphically, The Witcher 2 isn’t as good as the PC version. That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone (the 360 is how old?). With that said, it is still one of the best looking Xbox 360 titles out. Aside from some pop-in of textures here and there, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Most people won’t even know that the visuals took a hit on the console. There were never any issues with the frame rate, everything is highly detailed, and it has a rich color palette, so no complaints here. The sound quality was also grand. Like I said before the voice actors did a great job. Not only that but the music was good too; like most adventure titles, the tempo would change depending on what’s happening at the time. The only issue here was that the dialogue volume would drop below that of the environmental sounds during some of the outdoor scenes. Again, nothing to really complain about!

    All and all, The Witcher 2 is a great alternative to the Kingdoms of Amalur and Skrims out there. It does seem to be missing some of the modern staples of the genre though. You won’t be able to quick travel anywhere or mark locations on your map, the way the quests are listed can be confusing, and the “quest” marker in the mini map will get you lost sometimes. That said, the only real issues I saw had to do with potions and the ending. Neither of which should stop you from picking up this game. There are plenty of enemies to fight, secrets to find, weapons and armor to craft, and multiple endings based on your decisions. On top of that, this edition features four hours of additional gameplay, new cinematics, bug fixes, and more. As it stands, The Witcher 2 is a great game with only a few blemishes here and there keeping it from shining as bright as it could!



    A great story and gameplay is hindered only by select elements.



    One of the best looking games out there, minor pop-in aside.



    The voice acting, musical score, and sound effects were great!

    What's New:


    Although there are a lot of similarities, no RPG plays quite like The Witcher 2. For better or for worse, it’s its own breed of game.

    Replay Value:


    There are multiple endings, cinematics and story threads to experience, warranting multiple play-throughs!

    Final Score:


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