The first Witcher title is somewhere in the midst of my top RPGs of all time. It did so many things the way that they should be done in an RPG. While I do have far more complaints this time around, I enjoyed The Witcher 2. I’m going to primarily start off with the negatives and move towards the positives.
I’ve been stoked about The Witcher 2 for a while and have had a lot of faith in the developers to deliver another success. Have they done that? They have and most reviewers agree, rating The Witcher 2 about an average of 9.0.
Check metacritic to see current ratings.
As a fan, I am writing this review and I do have to talk about the negatives – of which there are plenty. That’s the odd thing about The Witcher 2. A lot of people will agree that there are more than a few things to hate, but even more things to love. At some points you might find yourself very turned off with where you are in the game, but what is beyond that hurdle makes it worth pushing through.
Then there are some gameplay annoyances such as clunky UI/combat (a noticeable delay between button press and action), very heavily scripted boss fights similar to titles like Force Unleashed 2, no inn storage, QTE (quick-time-event) nonsense and being forced to meditate to drink potions. A few of these are simply changes to the mechanics that you simply have to adjust to. At least one I can only attribute to a possible console developer on the team that needs to be fired.
The QTEs and scripted boss fights are thankfully kept to a minimum. When I did have to deal with them, it made me want to swear and uppercut something. Not because they can be difficult, but because they just don’t belong on the PC.
The prologue will undoubtedly prove to hold a lot of unseasoned players back. Tutorial tool-tips only stay up long enough for a quick speed reading and unless you do a little UI investigation you will miss a lot of the important tips.
The mind numbingly irritating quick-time-events (QTE) early in the game and several ridiculous scripted events will piss off a lot of players, but if you push through them the rest of the game is fantastic.
Most players won’t have mastered the basics before leaving the prologue and it can be quite unforgiving for that crowd. A few miscalculated parries or dodges can be the end of you in the prologue. You don’t have to worry though – the prologue is 10x more difficult than Chapter 1. The real challenge comes at the end of Chapter 1 when you face the boss.
It took me a little bit to get used to the new UI, casting signs, not having group style (similar ability obtained with talents) and doing things differently in Witcher 2. I didn’t have much trouble taking out trash mobs, even in large numbers, but I could simply do without the heavily scripted Kayran boss fight in Chapter 1. I’m sorry, but I hate scripted boss fights. Force Unleashed 2 sucked.
The UI is beautiful and new character talent setups are a welcome improvement.
The dialogue and story-telling is nothing short of brilliant, well-acted and entertaining. I tend to read dialogue and skip the audio, but in Witcher 2 it is worth listening to. Not to mention the comedic element. CD Projekt has earned a spot up there with the ranks of the elite such as Bioware.
There is plenty of nudity and bad language. You don’t want your kids to see you playing this game. It can be quite embarrassing. While I don’t necessarily think nudity belongs in a video game, in Witcher 2 it simply fits and is at times hilarious. You just have to play the game to understand. Idle NPC banter is pretty entertaining too. There are lots of classic one-liners in Witcher 2.
In The Witcher gear choices left much to be desired and the few upgrades available were a bit difficult to obtain. I am a loot-whore. There’s just a certain factor of enjoyment when looting anything in an RPG. The Witcher 2 has given us loot-whores far more choices for armor, weapons, potions, bombs, item upgrades, mutations and character customization.
You have limited inventory space. Certain gear will increase inventory space (as will certain talents) but only to an extent. You will run out eventually. There is no way around that. Though inventory space is a no-brainer to manage. There’s no reason to hoard a lot of iron (it’s extremely heavy) or keep looted armor that you aren’t going to use. So get used to selling loot.
You will likely loot a lot of ingredients from mobs and vegetation. Mobs drop a lot of it. Unless you make and drink a LOT of potions, it won’t be surprising to end up with 100+ of a specific ingredient. When you find yourself craving that expensive piece of armor, sell extra ingredients. From experience it can very easily net you over 3000 orens.
The targeting system in Witcher 2 can prove to be a bit funky. You frequently find yourself attacking foes off-screen by accident and at times you’ll say, “I meant to do that”. Other times you’ll curse the mistake.
Now I think it’s time for me to get back to Witcher 2. Pick it up. Just remember to use your head phones. The neighbors might think you’re double-clicking.