The lights are on
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the greatest epic fantasy adventure to grace PCs and game consoles since The Lord of the Ring series hit Netflix. It is an exceptionally well narrated adventure with compelling characters, professional voice acting, top-notch digital presentation and clever writing all wrapped around a stellar adaptation of the acclaimed Witcher series of stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Sit back, watch and enjoy ... oh, and you'll have to push a few buttons to keep things moving forward.
Yeah I don't really know how to review this one. I feel as though if I review it as a game I'll be doing it a disservice because as a game The Witcher 2 is woefully lackluster. Maybe it would be for the best if I did because in that respect The Witcher 2 embodies one major thing that is wrong with modern video games. I can hardly review it as a movie, and to review it as a gussied up choose-your-own-adventure would be to ignore the actual game aspects that are so underwhelming.
Once again, like many modern developers it seems as though CD Projeckt is more interested in making a presentable movie more than a game. The Witcher's play mechanics are hardly the worst I've ever seen. There is a bit of suffering on occasion but mostly it seems like the designers spent moments developing the play mechanics compared to the effort they put into presentation. And it shows because The Witcher 2 is one of the best looking titles of the modern gen. The writing is well above par ... for a video game. Compared to cinema the writing and presentation is what you'd expect from a summer blockbuster and no less.
As an RPG Geralt's leveling is lackluster. Geralt progresses slowly along three skill trees. There aren't enough character levels in the game to make decent use of even two of the skill trees much less the better part of all three, and even if you go all-in with one you still won't make the best of it until the game's underwhelming final chapter. The game will allow you to make the best use of armor and equipment and given the opportunities to invest in some seriously awesome weapons and armor, improving Geralt via his equipment is satisfactory at least, but the game affords no opportunity to respec either equipment or skills so in that regard it can be highly punishing.
Combat is also lackluster. I hesitate to say broken but at times it can feel like it. Geralt's movement alone is spastic. In combat he flails his sword around like a tard just hoping to hit anything that wanders within hitting distance (one character even cracks a joke about this). It's lame and unsatisfying at best and frustrating at worse, particularly at higher difficulties. It's your standard aimless and unresponsive button-mashing. The game doesn't afford the use of traps - not that you'll ever need them. And Bombs only exist as an option. Handy but useless in the long run. Only a few of the Witcher's signs are useful, most only on a situational basis.
The RPG nails the whole choose-your-own-adventure storytelling thing that other games manage to muck up so spectacularly. Even to the point of splitting the plot into an entirely different mid-section which comprises a bulk of the overall game. You'll play through twice just to get the complete package. Choices can greatly impact later developments, but the quest structure and nature of the quest tracking is total guttershite. Quests can auto-fail without prior warning just for progressing too far along another quest series. Objectives are horrendously non-descript and the map is a total waste of time. You can even lock out entire quest series just by choosing the wrong line of dialog or talking to the wrong person with zero indication that a whole quest series even exists behind the correct line of dialog.
Geralt himself makes for a far more engaging character than I initially expected and his nature is well suited for roleplaying. Most of the joy of The Witcher is in talking with characters because the dialog and voice acting is bloody brilliant. The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings is a bloody great story and a mediocre game. As a game I would rate it far lower. Maybe a 6.5. But considering the complete package it rates much higher in light of its exceptional narrative presentation and storytelling.
No one has commented on this article.