The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a 3rd person RPG, Developed by the polish company; CD Projekt RED and published by Namco Bandai in Europe. Released for PC on May 17, 2011, the game has had console owners begging for the chance to get in on the slash-em-up action.
As with the original, the game follows the life and tale of Geralt of Rivia, one of the few surviving ‘Witchers’, humans that have been chemically and genetically enhanced to have to power to slay monsters, most from a young age. Witchers have special powers, unique to the Witcher’s persona, including magic, alchemy and sword handling. Geralts character himself is based upon the novels by polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
After a really nice cinematic showing the assassination of a king on a boat, the player is thrust into the tutorial, with the added touch of it being an “arena.” For a player who had not played the original, the learning curve of all the abilities is a little steep, with many different abilities and combat tactics thrown on you within a few minutes. However, after a short time integrating with the game, it feels like second nature, and you will soon be slicing, dicing and fire balling your opponents in a flashy display of acrobatic finesse. The combat itself certainly looks stylish, and is entertaining to watch even without a controller in your hands.
Moving on from the Tutorial, the plot starts to unravel, and will leave you in no doubt that the story will be full of twists and turns, as you see Geralt fall and seemingly die, only to be whisked away to a prison cell, ready to be interrogated by Vernon Roche (voiced by Mark Healy, you may recognize his voice from Dragon age.) Roche is the commander of the Blue Stripes, part of the Temerian military, and has some very serious questions to ask you. The beauty of the game is that depending on your dialog choices and game world actions, the story changes, with an estimated third of the game varying depending on how you play it. The game boasts an incredible 16 different endings, making multiple play-throughs fun rather than tedious. And that’s just the main quest! added to the mix are a huge variety of side missions, some tackling things like arm wrestling, fist fights and gambling debt, whilst others will start with something seemingly simple like a local murder, which then fleshes out to reveal a larger conspiracy. Whole titles have had less story than some of these side missions!! Some of them will even have an effect on the game, with NPC’s having unique dialog choices and spoken lines depending on what path you chose before. The decisions you make, whilst not showing up on some in-game morality meter that makes the characters react to you fear full if your evil or loving if your good, are instead much more realistic, with each decision having a lasting impact on your experience, if not making you necessarily Evil or saint-like.
Alongside the main story mode, there is also The Arena, a no holds barred bloody, gladiator style fight to the death in the arena used in the tutorial. Geralt will encounter both enemies and friends, the latter of which he can bribe/pay to help him in the increasingly difficult challenges. The more enemies defeated, the more points the player earns, which can be recorded online to compare and compete with other blood-hungry warriors.
And that leads us onto the sex. The Witcher 2 features copious amounts of nudity, but its never ” ZOMG BOOBS LOL!!1″ its done in a very grace full way, and the sex scenes (yes, there are sex scenes) lend to the games image instead of subtracting from it. Whether its with Triss Merigold or one of the hookers at flotsam brothel, Geralt is certainly a gentleman ( uh… a paying gentleman.) The sex clips themselves very clearly show a nude woman having sex with Geralt, who himself is nude, but no genitalia is seen, only breasts and skin. Afterwards, some of the hookers stay sleeping on the bed with geralt… awwwww…
The rumors flying around about the Xbox reaching the height of its graphical peak, will be squashed by those playing this game. CD Projekt RED developed their own engine for the games graphics, and utilized the Havok physics engine.The sheer beauty and quality of in-game visuals can very much go toe-to-toe with its PC big brother, save slightly lower textures and a dropped frame here or there. The occasional drop in frames, and texture pop in can be remedied by installing the game to your Xbox HDD, a 15 GB install that all but nullifies the little hiccups caused by the insane textures. This method also decreases the load times when moving zone to zone, and whilst the load times were impressively short to begin with, its amazing to see how quickly the game loads the beautiful scenery with backup from the HDD. The realistic but still colorful visuals fit well within the setting, with lighting effects enhancing the experience.
The voice acting is superb, with Doug Cockle ( Rein of Fire, Captain America) reprising his role as Geralt, and Antony Byrne as King Foltest ( Fable III, Casualty.) The clash of swords, the roar of fireballs tearing past, birds chirruping in the forest, women rabbling in the streets, guards abusing townsfolk and running or dripping water all providing a breathing world of sound that add to the illusion of immersion into a fantasy kingdom.
Overall the game is a resounding success, and though it is very much aimed at an adult market ( The word ploughed is used almost religiously, in and out of the brothel,) It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and has certainly made me fall for its charms ;).
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.