The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Review

posted 5/16/2012 by Travis Huinker
other articles by Travis Huinker
Platforms: 360
Originally released on the PC in 2011, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has finally made  its debut on the Xbox 360 in the Enhanced Edition. The developers at CD Projekt RED broke the traditional mold of hasty ports with a version of the game that has been completely redesigned for the gameplay experience on consoles. In addition to the already content-rich game, the Enhanced Edition includes over four hours of new quests and cinematics. Add those elements with a narrative that isn’t shy to mix in various mature interactions and the end result is a game that’s far above other titles on the market.

Gamers step into the role of a monster slayer known as Geralt of Rivia, who  returns as protagonist from the original Witcher. The Witcher 2 provides some cinematics that explain what exactly is a witcher and frequently referenced events from the first game, but lack of knowledge regarding certain people or places don’t distract from enjoying the narrative. The detail found in conversations between characters can be reminiscent of a Lord of the Rings novel with frequent references to various kings and lands that are under conflict. The Witcher 2 goes far beyond recent role-playing games by truly offering decisions that have meaningful impacts in the narrative’s outcome.


As Geralt, gamers partake in a wide range of quests over the span of three chapters that take around 40 or more hours for completion. Both the game’s primary and optional quests are crafted with engrossing tales that can be considered more worthwhile adventures than menial tasks. The most noteworthy feature of quests involve key turning points that require the player to make timed decisions that have dramatic consequences on future events. The effects of one decision can completely change the location of the next chapter and ultimately how the story of Geralt will end before the credits roll. Decisions in the game usually never present black or white outcomes, resulting in moral gray areas that require the player to choose a course of action based upon their notions toward various characters and groups.

Combat in The Witcher 2 incorporates a finely tuned system of light and heavy attacks combined with dodge and riposte moves. Occurrences of multiple opponents and tough boss battles require players to be prepared with enough potions and proper armor protection for each battle. Fortunately, Geralt can use various magic powers that range from fireballs to shields. Depending on the difficulty level, combat can range from a challenging affair of correctly planning attacks or simply spamming light and heavy attacks. With various abilities and skill trees to level up, gamers can customize Geralt to their gameplay style.

The role-playing elements in The Witcher 2 are quite extensive with a suite of crafting and alchemy systems that allow for the creation of potions, armor, weapons, and other useful items. Players won’t have a difficult time with discovering a wide assortment of loot throughout environments. Other features including arm wrestling, dice poker, and fist fights further immerse the player into the fantasy world. The world of The Witcher 2 is highly-detailed in nearly every aspect from its city streets to gloomy forests.


The Witcher 2’s transition to the Xbox 360 brought along its stunning graphics and rich fantasy-driven soundtrack. From the beginning chapter to the last, each aspect of the game’s presentation is of the utmost quality. Character animations, cinematic set pieces, and scenic vistas are simply a few elements of the game's detail and polish that few other titles accomplish on the market. The presentation extends beyond notions of graphics and audio with the care that has gone into creating the overall gameplay experience. It’s quite evident that the developers put a great deal of effort into crafting the game’s characters, lore, and world.

The only minor blemishes in the playthrough included some occurrences of confusing mission structure and ambiguous dialogue choices. During playthrough of the various chapters, there were some optional quests that failed without warning from decisions made in conversations or by finishing other tasks in an improper order. These instances were never clear in why the quests failed or what order was required for proper completion. The other issue with the game is the occurrence of dialogue choices that don’t provide any hint about their effect. In certain situations, the moral ambiguity of decisions in dialogue helped to provide a thrilling narrative. While in others, the dialogue choices never provided the player with any forewarning of their effects on the narrative’s outcome.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is now available for Xbox 360 and Windows PC.
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