Beautiful graphics, wrapped around a story of betrayal, greed and deception, laced with some adult themes, make The Witcher 2 a treat for any age appropriate gamer.
Slightly longer nitty-gritty plot description from the Official Site: The player is Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer, a witcher. Entangled in the political turmoil that engulfed Temeria, Geralt helped quell the rebellion of the Order of the Flaming Rose. Soon after, he saved King Foltest’s life when the monarch was attacked by a witcher-like assassin. He continues to protect the king, serving as his bodyguard as Foltest strives to bring peace to his kingdom. The Order’s last bastions have yielded to the royal army, yet one more task remains – the Baroness La Valette announced her secession from the realm, and her fortress must be taken. A month after the attempted assassination, Foltest’s armies stand at the gates of La Valette Castle, preparing for a final assault. Still at Foltest’s side, Geralt is among them, unable to begin his personal quest to discover the mysterious assassin’s origin and identity…
Geralt of Rivia is a hardened man, tired of the political game he must play. He would rather be slaying monsters and ploughing several women, be it elven or hoofed, but unforeseen events catapult Geralt into a world of battling kings and deceiving sorceresses.
The Witcher 2 is a third-person role playing game with real time combat and has a leveling up system with plenty of choices on where to put your skill points, which are gained by completing quests and killing enemies. You can focus on improving your training, swordsmanship, alchemy or signs (which are Geralt’s witcher powers). You have a force push, which can be leveled up to knock down multiple enemies; a flame ability, to light enemies on fire; a trap ability, that will immobilize and harm foes; a protective shield, which is a must as Geralt will not automatically heal during combat unless a potion is taken before battle (more on that later) and finally a charm that can placed on an enemy to make him fight for you. It’s highly recommended to focus on swordsmanship and signs, as combat at first will be highly overwhelming, but will ease up the more you upgrade.
Geralt is able to mediate while not in combat by pressing the LB button, which allows him to move the time of the day forward (merchants only deal during the day, so instead of waiting you can just move the time forward with no consequences), craft items such as potions and traps, drink potions which will help you in many ways. For example the CAT potion allows you to see in the dark, as well as see enemies through walls for a certain amount of time. The SWALLOW potion allows you to regain vitality (health) during combat, but watch out as you have a toxicity level meter and once full you can’t drink anymore potions till some time passes.
I tried finding a screenshot of the meditation options, but couldn’t. So enjoy a photo of the majority of what I did during the game.
The game doesn’t take long to jump into the main storyline. After a quick tutorial, (optional but highly recommended), you’re introduced to an imprisoned Geralt being interrogated. An interesting dialog tree system allows you choose what to tell the interrogator, after making a choice, the game flashes back and allows you play out what you selected. Before you know it, you’re being thrown into helping a King storm a fortified fortress with a rather interesting outcome.
Can you believe that’s just the prologue? When you begin chapter 1, you are introduced to the quest system. While in a town, a posting board can be accessed and you can choose what side quests to do. Also talking with people will present you with some random quests, which usually ends up rewarding you with coin or experience points. You’ll always know which quests are you main ones and what are your side quests, by pressing the BACK button to access the quest log. I’ve found that the side quests in the first chapter were interesting and rather fun, but in the second chapter you’ll notice a trend where the side quests start to mimic chapter 1, with slight alterations (arm wrestling anyone?). The main story is so engrossing, a few repetitious side quests will do nothing to deter you from continuing on and experiencing a unique adventure. It should be noted that a rather large choice is given to you at the end of chapter 1, which will completely change the way the game plays out. Chapter 3 is considerably shorter than the previous two chapters, but no less fun. There are a few random side quests to be done, which can yield you some better armor and a couple sweet swords. Make sure you wrap all remaining quests before continuing the main quest, as you will not be able to return. (Also I’m hoping that any future Witcher games will take into account the choices I made throughout this game; e.g. Mass Effect series.)
The graphics in this game are beautiful to say the least. Impressive environments are accompanied with some gorgeous character models.* Even the smallest detail is paid attention to right down to the insignias on the armour. A little bit of screen tearing and texture loading during cut scenes occurs, but it’s not enough to distract from the overall beauty of the game.
The music and sound effects are outstanding, along with some stellar voice acting (with most characters). However, a problem I did notice while playing the game is that some of the voice work is way to low and the background and music drown it out. I recommend setting the sound effects and music lower than the voice and also turning on the subtitles.
Conclusion time! If you haven’t already played the PC version of The Witcher 2, which was released last May, or a strictly console gamer, I highly recommend giving the 360 version a spin. My patience started to wear a little thin near the end of the game, due to the length and repetition of side quests, but it’s gripping story, fantastic action/RPG game play will surely not disappoint. A definite recommend and a game that you’ll want to play a second time, to see how the different choices given to you could change the story.
*Did I mention some of these gorgeous character models are nude. Titillating!