The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition | Zombiegamer Review

In short

If the engaging and immersive narrative or the deeply rewarding RPG element doesn’t grab you, then the remarkable design, the sophisticated gameplay or the fluid mechanics should. The Witcher 2 is nothing short of one of the finest RPG titles you will find this generation. If you are worried about the ‘porting’ – worry not, as it feels as though it was created for the Xbox 360.

Developer: CD Projekt Red Studio
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans of: RPG, Fantasy
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.5/10

Overview

The second instalment in this epic RPG saga has thankfully been ported to Xbox 360 and the Enhanced Edition means more gameplay and value therefore. Players follow The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia’s story in a fantasy storyline that is defined by the non-linear game narration. Geralt is entangled in a grand story of deadly betrayal where he is being of accused of the murder no man or non-human wants to be accused of. Geralt needs to bring the true murder to justice, he will need to form alliances in a world filled with mystical elves, dwarves, dragons, witchers, humans and non-humans wherever and with whomever he can, all in the name of clearing his name.

What I loved

  • Narrative
  • Combat
  • Dynamic, vivid world
  • Dialogue
  • Design
  • Sexy, mature themes
  • Characters
  • Geralt’s persona
  • Control mechanics

Not so much

  • Can’t think of anything that notably detracted from my experience

Gameplay and Features

The Witcher 2 delivers as deep an RPG experience as you are going to find, but fortunately for lightweights like me, the brilliant design will hold your hand so that you can strive to be a powerful witcher. The tutorial covers the basics and suggests what difficulty you should play at, and then players are guided and slowly introduced to the RPG elements and the gameplay.

Unlike most RPG’s, you don’t get to choose a class; you play as ‘The Witcher’, and what a character he is. Geralt is a not only a swift brute, but powerful with magic and so the RPG element revolves primarily around those attributes. Even though the levelling-up branches off in many directions, everything is well explained and structured into four major categories. Geralt is brilliant with weapons, mainly swords, and then he can use a wide variety of magic for both defending and attacking. Geralt can also create potions for to stimulate various powers or to enhance items such as his weapons. The sub-menus was designed to be easy to navigate and not overwhelming despite having so much substance to it.

The Witcher 2 grabbed me just a short while into it with the captivating back-story and the immensely interesting lead character. I also loved the fact that I was quickly introduced to the mature, but tasteful theme of the game – the language; the sexiness; the moral questions; all very blatant and clearly aimed at a mature audience.

A major highlight for me (and I’m sure most) is the dynamic and brutal combat which was brilliantly designed, is very rewarding as well as being easy on the eye.  This is the area which RPG titles normally struggle to impress non-fans, and this is where The Witcher 2 could charm action fans. The combat works well and is not clucky like many RPG titles, making the combat feel more like an action title for the most part. Depending on your weapon and repetition of the tapping of the attack buttons, Geralt varies his attacks. You have your basic strike and a stronger one; you can also block or parry and counter from the parry. Melee combat is as good as you’ll find in the genre and varies from quick to finishing attacks. The melee attacks are more familiar with that of action games – requiring you to press the indicated button in a timely manner to trigger the attacks. Other actions include being able to dive into a roll and of course the magic actions. The quick-fire magic button is set up in a sub-menu where you can assign the button to a certain quick-fire magic. The magic is diverse and varies from attacking magic to defending magic.

Geralt primarily carries two long swords; one which is geared or more powerful for human foes; and one which is geared for opposing non-humans. Other weapons include almost anything you can think that a Knight would use. The weapons vary in speed and power and can be enhanced with potions which further change their attributes. Like the hand combat, the weapon attacks vary from quick to more powerful and finishing attacks. The overall combat design and mechanics make for an absolute pleasurable combat in The Witcher 2 – theirs is so much variation here which makes for diverse and rewarding battles.

The Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 is the Enhanced Edition which includes new characters, locations, and missions as well as promising improved gaming mechanics designed for the 360. It is also recommended that you install the discs as CD Projeckt say it improves the visuals and general gameplay.

Sound and graphics

The world of The Witcher 2 is a beautiful one, well detailed and vivid for the most parts. The world is also well suited to the era and looks alive which helps immerse you in the world. There are the mystical forests and majestic castles, like something out of a ‘knights’ movie. Even the character’s attire is spot on to what you would expect from the era. Characters look good and well detailed, and while their motion animations are realistic, I have seen been facial animations. The cinematic sequences are particularly impressive and drive the story along nicely. I noticed some minor clipping issues before I installed the game which then ran smoothly at around 30 frames per second.

With these big open-world titles, the third-person camera view can be annoying to me, so I was pleasantly impressed with the angle and how it coped with movement. This combined with the well-designed mechanics made for fairly smooth combat. The LT locks on your chosen foe, so when battling more than one opponent, the camera works well in-conjunction with the ‘locking on’ system.

The musical score compliments the mystical era with the grand orchestral sounds and choir voices in the background. The sound-effects further add to the high quality of the audio-visual experience, with the sounds of the dynamic world, the muttering amongst the crowds and metallic clanging of the weapons – all very well put together and a joy to play through. The voice acting, again, is of a high quality with Geralt taking the centre stage. His slightly gruff voice that commands your attention and then his sense of humour with a good touch of sarcasm makes for memorable scenes. I loved the British accents which brilliantly differentiate depending on the character’s classes – from the noblemen that are well-spoken, to the commoners with their limited vocabulary – absolutely brilliant.

So thankfully the overall audio-visual experience in a game you will be spending a lot of time with impresses considerably. It is a port and so it is not perfect, but far better than I thought it would be.

Closing comments

I would have thought it would be the deeply rewarding RPG element that would most impress with any RPG and that ultimately keeps you going forward. The Witcher 2 not only impresses here with its faultless design in that aspect, but it delivers in the area that many RPG titles don’t – the combat. These factors coupled with one of the richest, dynamic stories; the excellent narrative and the interesting characters made for a truly epic adventure. Even if you’re not the biggest RPG lover, I suspect the gameplay and other pros could win you over.

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