Words about The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition (360)
by, 18 May 2012 at 08:13 PM (1412 Views)
This was an excellent game experience in my opinion. The story was engrossing and well written/acted without being overbearing, the combat feels fluid and (mostly) responsive and has a good weight to it, and there's a nice assortment of side missions and things to do outside of the main quest. It kept me wanting to come back to it and see everything it had to offer without ever really boring me, which is a testament to it's strengths because I often find myself bored by games relatively quickly.
Having not played the first Witcher game, I felt some apprehension at jumping into this because I didn't know anything about the original or it's story. But the game does a really good job of quickly bringing you up to speed with what is going on, all in the midst of interesting characters and clever dialogue. And as I mentioned before, just when any side quest started to feel tired and played out, it would end and reward you and allow you to get back to other tasks. There were one or two areas where I actually felt a little rushed to move forward because the game seemed to really want me to get to the next part while I just wanted to search for more junk to sell. Speaking of thing to pick up, they're all over the place and satisfied that itch quite easily, even if a lot of it was just junk that wasn't worth much.
The combat really focuses on positioning and preparation, making it worth your while to load up on potions and oils before fights and taking a cautious approach to most encounters. If you die really quickly, it's most likely due to being surrounded or not using your abilities the way they were intended. After I figured that out, the areas that gave me trouble on normal became much more manageable on the daunting Dark mode. At times I wanted to yell at the game and throw it out the window for cheating me on some cheap deaths, but it harkened back to Dark Souls and made me realize it was my own tactics that were getting me Game Over screens. Once you "get it", the game rewards you by making you feel nearly unstoppable.
The game itself looks lovely. Great lighting, detail and variety in the character models and environments, and flourishes and effects abound. The characters are quite varied as well, lots of different types of people with subtle tweaks. Great use of facial animation as well, the characters tend to be very believable thanks to the emotion conveyed through the faces and body language. There are several instances throughout with texture pop-in and occasionally the camera freaks out a little, but they are very minor and tend to happen in the same spots so it doesn't detract from the experience at all.
There were several bugs that I ran into while playing, I haven't looked elsewhere to see if they were common issues but a few stood out to me. Occasionally the game would just decide to freeze in the middle of doing something, sometimes mid battle, sometimes after a cutscene. It would give me control of the camera around Geralt, which I could move like normal, but nothing else would work. No moving, attacking, pausing or opening up the menu, which was odd because other characters in the area just continued about like nothing was wrong. Pushing the guide button, I could navigate my Xbox menus no problem and all my buttons worked there, but going back into the game would produce the same camera only controls, forcing a hard reset (and obvious frustration).
The next bug happened 2 times, where I would finish a battle and then all of a sudden my sword had disappeared. Not got unequipped and moved to my inventory (which did happen several times inbetween fights... wtf?), just gone. Didn't exist anymore. Which could just be a minor thing if it wasn't for the fact that I was playing on Dark when this happened and was using the exclusive cursed sets. So when I lost one of my swords to the wind, I would have to change all my armor and my other sword or constantly lose life (wearing the cursed set requires all 6 pieces or you will lose all your health in about 5 seconds). I was able to recreate the missing sword once, but had to suffer through a very long battle with seriously underpowered weapons and about 50 deaths before I could get it again. Very annoying and totally unexplained.
There were a few more minor ones, like sometimes an important NPC would wander halfway through a wall and get permanently stuck, forcing a reload of some previous save.
Overall though, they were just minor annoyances that bogged down an otherwise stellar experience.
Both Roche's path and Iorveth's were varied and interesting, I can't honestly say which I liked more. If the story is interesting to you though, I suggest playing through both paths as there's some very entertaining things that happen on both which are exclusive to the one path. It made it particularly interesting to find out what happened with one of the major characters, Saskia, which I would not have understood had I played Roche's path both times. And the skill trees, which will easily support different styles of play, have some interesting and varied abilities that are fun to experiment with. And thankfully there is a quest late in the game that will allow you to re-spec your character, in case you wanted that level 2 magic spell instead of extra health or something.
Overall, a really well made game with some great moments and a compelling narrative. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun romp through a pretty fantasy world. There is an arena with leaderboard support that is a series of fights that get harder and harder, but I didn't find much draw from it besides the 2 achievements involved. At the time I tried it out I don't believe I had any friends on the list to compete with, so that may have been another factor in my ho-hum-ness to that mode, but if you enjoy the combat it's an easy and quick destination to practice or hone your skills. If I was grading it, I would probably give it a 9 out of 10. A very memorable and entertaining game, well worth the price of admission.
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