Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review

  The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a RPG set in the world of Anderzej Sapkowsky’s novels following the adventures of the Witcher Geralt of Rivia.During your adventures you must slash and hack your way through various villains and monsters to uncover a sinister plot surrounding the monarchs and rulers of a few nations fighting over an area known as the Pontar Valley.
The Box is full of goodies.
One of the key features of the game is its refreshing storyline, there are many choices to be made during the game, and all bear a weight behind them, there is no right or wrong, and you have your own moral compass to use as a guide, No hands will be held as you decide the fate of children, terrorists and your own allies. The repercussions are unknown and can come back to haunt you if you do not think carefully about what choices you make. Spend a little time getting to know your allies, and you may end up with a few surprisingly steamy cutscenes. Spend some time getting to know your foes, and you may find a trusty ally. Everything is possible in the world of Geralt of Rivia.



  The gameplay has an interesting blend of swordplay, magic and the use of traps, knives and bombs. As a Witcher, Geralt uses two types of sword to slice and dice his foes, for magical beasts, Silver is his preferred choice, and for Humans, Steel can be used to settle all those disagreements that mind control, money, or diplomacy cannot solve. The weapons are upgradeable through time limited poisons and enhancements, Stones, or finding a better weapon in the wilderness, or even crafting your own. Swordplay can be very unforgiving; you may find yourself in serious trouble if you get yourself surrounded on any difficulty above easy. Even then Easy can be challenging at times, So how can you stay alive, Well, Don’t get surrounded, Don’t get hit, and Remember you can use magic  as well..

 The magic system consists of Signs, Aard, Yrden, Igni, Quen and Axii (Which, to go by various videos, people seem to have a lot of trouble pronouncing), with these Signs, you are able to shield yourself, incinerate foes, turn foes against each other, blast them with air, and set traps on the ground, Each of these signs have their uses, giving you the edge you need during combat, by buying you some time, protecting yourself, of just simply decimating things, the Signs are not something to shy away from when playing the Witcher 2 as they are as useful in combat as  your trusty sword(s).

Locations are detailed
  The last, and possibly most underused, but ever so useful element of combat comes under a section of a few equipable items, Throwing knives, Bombs and Traps, here we can have some real fun preparing for a battle by placing some explosive tripwires,  and creasing up when your enemies wander through and get blown to smithereens.
Or alternately, if you find yourself in a tight spot during combat, throw a bomb or a knife at your unsuspecting foes.

 With these three elements of combat, you should be pretty well equipped to go fight some monsters, if not, well, you shouldn’t really be playing games should you...


RPG Elements

   What Rpg would be complete without a leveling system, when you complete quests and slay monsters you gain XP, much like any other Rpg, When you level up, you earn talents, that can be spent on any of four skill trees, there are four skill paths to choose from, Training ( the only one available until level 6)  Magic,  Alchemy and swordsmanship, here you can choose useful perks to help you in your monster hunting.  (Or human hunting, I know the thought has crossed your mind) One thing to note is  that you must choose how to spend your talents wisely, as I don’t see the possibility of being able to max out a single skill tree unless you only spend points on that one thing. I think balance is the key here, as everything is useful to the budding Witcher, and you may find yourself at a disadvantage if you stack up on one thing.

  Alongside the levelling system is a alchemy system, which you really need to spend a little time with before fully understanding the mechanics. You need to acquire ingredients lists, and the appropriate herbs ( simply touch your Witcher medallion for help finding these) or body parts before being able to craft a potion, the benefits from brewing these potions are immediately apparent though,  being able to buff your stats, or see in dark caves and dungeons or even poison your sword are highly useful. The crafting system is very similar, apart from the fact you must get someone to craft your bombs, weapons and traps for you, the core mechanic of get the parts ( oil, iron ore, e.t.c. ) and get your list is the same. 
  The quest system is familiar, but sometimes ambiguous, perhaps to encourage exploring. You speak to a NPC, get the quest, and go complete it, simple. Some quests, such as the main story are well signposted, some quests give you a chance to learn about your foes, or discover people or places of your own accord, and this strikes a good balance of direction and exploration. Most quests are displayed by markers on your map and minimap, with a well written journal to accompany the quest, written in the style of a story, Geralt did this, found this and decided to do this.

The UI

Wandering around is fun!

    The UI on The Witcher 2 is well presented, and very clear to read and understand,
Only those very new to the RPG genre may have a little trouble finding out what is going on, and where to find certain items. I tested this on my girlfriend, and she got used to it very quickly, and was soon whizzing through the menus, equipping armours, waiting, and creating potions or drinking them. The inventory screen was clearly designed for PC, as navigating different items and uses with a pad can get a little tedious, but to be honest, there are games that suffer from this problem a lot worse than The Witcher 2.  The map can be a little confusing at times, with some locations being provided with less detailed maps than others. The art style is brilliant though and gives you the ink and parchment feel that befits the genre.

Visuals and sound

Now for some reason, nowadays, people have become a bit snobby when it comes down to graphics, I have friends who refuse to play Bethesda’s 2006 title, Oblivion, due to how it looks. Looks however, is simply something the gamer need not worry about when playing The Witcher 2.  The game looks stunning,  featuring complex locations, a dynamic time system, great weather effects and awesome face animations.
For the aging hardware of the Xbox 360 the game copes well with no noticeable stutters, and visuals equal to a Gaming PC. It is highly recommended to install the game to your hard drive for maximum performance. The florae and Faunae and general outdoors are captured well, and the colour pallet varies from location to location. Buildings are a sight to behold, with little touches here and there, interior and exterior that really make a difference.

Water is something that some studios struggle with, but the water in the game world is very well rendered, although water is something that isn’t encountered very often, with most large bodies of water cordoned off,  but the water you do get to splash around in is good and sounds good too.  Monsters and dungeons look suitably gruesome, and you can treat yourself to plenty of gore, slime, and fire to boot.

 The characters in the game are well rendered and ooze their own personality and traits, the faces are very lifelike and this really helps with the story experience,  engaging you in the story like never before. The voices of non essential characters can get a little repetitive,  with a few lines being repeated over and over, talking to them becomes a thing to avoid the further along the game you get, the dialogue is unique and entertaining, but gets boring after the 25th time you listen to it.
Boobs are always good..
The essential character dialogue is deep, engaging, and well voiced, Rep for the casting on the game, no voice seems out of place. The Dialogue can get you angry at times, not due to any fault, but the emotional response you get. You will laugh in places, and more often than not be a little offended by someone’s prejudices or even bad language. All of these things really pull together to keep you engaged with the characters and story throughout the game, and the game is not afraid of throwing in a joke or two.   

 The sound of the game is fantastic, in score and general sound effects. The team knew this and chose to include the soundtrack  with the game, a good move,  but CD Projekt may have been able to keep costs down a little by including a download code instead of a CD.  The sound effects will have you wincing as you mash someone’s head in, or slice a beastie. You will be grinning during the steamy bits, and laughing at some of the back and forths between characters . The ambient sounds are fantastic,  eerie dungeon noises,  forest creepy crawlies, and jovial taverns, everything sounds good.   The score is great, and I now have it on my Ipod, and is oft listened to.


  You may have noticed that so far in my review I have kept my lips very tight about the Plot, characters,  and smaller story elements and mechanics, sometimes it is better to find out for yourself than have everything spoon fed to you during a review. The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings is a Mature, linear story driven RPG with a very rewarding choice system, fantastic video and sound, and fun, exciting combat. It will keep you gripped from start to finish, have you laughing,  and sometimes being downright disgusted with some of the characters. It has a few bugs,  but they are nothing compared to some of the bugs in Bethesda’s Titles (Ahem). If you’re a fan of in depth RPG’s, welsh accents, and a good tale go out and buy it.
CD Projekt really deserve your Orens. A small side note for if you’re not tempted already, the game comes with a Map, Soundtrack, and Mini Game Guide for when you get stuck, and if you were lucky enough to preorder off Amazon like me, you get a signed copy, signed by a member of the crew.

                     What are you waiting for, go on, go buy the game…. You will not regret it.

  By Lespauljames
Photos thanks to my android phone, and Screens thanks to Google. 

Is that a signature i see? Cheers Jann mallsen (sp?)


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