GAME NAME: The Witcher 2
DEVELOPER(S): CD Projekt RED
PUBLISHER(S): Namco Bandai
GENRE(S): Western RPG
RELEASE DATE(S): 17 April 2012
The first Witcher game from 2007 made more headlines for its bawdy bonking and juvenile ‘sex cards’ than a surprising adult narrative and arguably the headiest fantasy world ever coded. The only problem is that the cult favourite never made it to consoles … but it seems the folks at CD Projekt learned some valuable lessons and just over half a decade later console gamers can join in on the fun. Is it enough to reinvent the wheel?
While initially it took some time for us to get to grips with this PC port (we have not said that in a while) it looks astonishing for a game that was not originally intended for console. Yes, the overall lightning and texture mapping can honestly not be compared to what we saw on PC but for console this is truly awe-inspiring. Seeing the blood-red sunsets washing over brutal close-quarters combat is enough to make fantasy fans jealous of the PC. Once again you play as the white-haired Geralt, the Witcher (in other words ‘slayer of supernatural beasties’) and there is, again, more emphasis on actual role-playing rather than stat building, although there’s some of that too.
The focus is on repercussions that result from how you act in the world of The Witcher 2 and what you do for people. That’s why there are several endings to the game. The battle system and user interface is too polished, a testament to the Xbox controller support that was perfect on the PC version. The A button has Geralt wielding his sword or axe at a rapid pace while X sees him performing slower but more powerful blows. Pressing and holding the LB button gives you quick access to his Signs (magic) options that he triggers by pressing Y. They are: the Aard Sign – a telekinetic wave, the Yrden Sign – a magical trap on the ground that stuns and holds an enemy, the Igni Sign – flame-based attacks, the Quen Sign – a protective shield that last for 30 seconds and the Axii Sign – a hex placed on an opponent who turns on his comrades. It’s also here where you’ll find assisting weapon abilities such as snares and bombs, but most important is Geralt’s ability to meditate.
In the meditation state you can pass the time from night to day and back again, create new potions, and drink the potions that provide numerous enhancing abilities, which is a must before battles on the harder difficulties since you can’t imbibe potions during combat. Furthermore by pressing the back button you’ve got instant access to your whereabouts and with a press of the left or right trigger buttons you can jump between quests and side quests, Inventory and character abilities are where you can toy with ability upgrades and your appearance in the game. It feels very much at home on a console.
Everything is just about perfect. The only problem is that we experienced a game-breaking bug, which had our journey coming to an abrupt end and required a complete restart (just under 25 hours in on the first playthough). We also found that the analogue sticks were very sensitive and there were no options available to reduce the sensitivity. Those two minor blips on the radar should not be enough to deter you from buying a game that rivals, if not exceeds, most of Bioware’s narrative offerings. The Witcher 2 might not reinvent the wheel, but it certainly spins it very fast.
WARNING TO PARENTS: Though the back of the box will have you believe otherwise there are explicit sex scenes in the game.