Release Date: May 17, 2012 NA
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platforms: PC, Reviewed on Xbox 360
The Witcher was a very well-received, European-flavored mature role-playing game. Maligned for its difficulty, the developers, CDProjekt, responded with an improved version adding hours of gameplay, cinematics and tuned difficultly. Rise of the White Wolf was a console-bound version of the game that was ultimately cancelled. Witcher 2 is CDProjekt’s conciliatory effort and man does it make up for it. Hit the jump for the full skinny.
Geralt of Rivia is our hero. He continues to carry over a bout of Amnesia from the series predecessor. What you do know is that he is looking for an old lover while accompanied by his new/old lover and some friends. Trish, Dandelion, and Zoltan make the travel much more intriguing. They create a true sense of camaraderie. These relationships are soaked in the mire that is regional politics. Kings from Redania, Temeria, and other areas in the world all fight over vacated thrones. As it normally goes, each region has supporters for either side but gratefully and the side quests you undertake usually show your support for one leader over another. Truthfully, it’s much too complex to lay out here. Just know that the story is intriguing and zigs when you expect it to zag.
This open w0rld RPG is similar to the many released before it (Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Mass Effect 3). As you accomplish certain task, some optional, others mandatory, you gain experience points. You level your character and mold him into the specific warrior you desire. The four areas of focus are training, alchemy, magic and swordsmanship. Certain skills can be mutated to increase certain attributes like vitality, attack damage, armor, etc. Enhancments have similar effects but are applied to armor and clothing.
Earning experience points through combat is extremely entertaining. You have a light and heavy attack followed by a magic and evasion button. Your sword-based attacks flow seamlessly from light to heavy attacks and provide slight visual cues when identifying the right moment to chain an attack together. It’s a very satisfying experience watching Geralt string together a 8-9 hit combination.
Trap setting, magic, and bare-fist brawling round out Geralt’s skill tree. All of these skills are well thought-out with the latter comprising many side quests. The random dice games and fight-betting returns from the Witcher and is a nice distraction. It’s too bad these experiences are completely optional and often overlooked when following solely the main story.
What sets the Witcher 2 apart is growth. As Geralt’s capability grows, so does the story. More and more side-quests become available as the end game approaches. Granted, the game seems smaller than it is and than can be caused by a plot reveal that occurs so late you barely have time to digest it before the credits roll. That being said, the satiating story throughout the bulk of the game should keep your attention. The fantasy lore from different regions of the world is truly on display here and CDProjekt has a lot to be happy about.
The Witcher 2 is a unique compilation of exploration, combat, and relationships. CDProjekt made a great product that kept me engaged for 35 hours. The unyielding difficulty may dissuade some gamers but the reward is worth it. CDProjekt has proven that its videogame formula works on both PCs and consoles. I sincerely hope their next effort, Cyberpunk, maintains the high standard set by Witcher 2.
Get it scale: 5/5 Let’s get it!