Friday, June 3, 2011

My Witcher 2 Review

Ya like RPG's? No then read no further. Oh you do? Good then this game could be for you. In my honest opinion, and despite a few flaws, this could be the GOTY on many critics lists this year. This is a more personal review so yes a bit of RPG bias is going on here. Warned ya!

Not having played the First Witcher I thought it wouldn't be wise to dive into the sequel but I am glad I did. You can import your save game from the first game although not having played the first one I didn't have that option. The first thing you will notice is how beautiful this game is even if your rig is lacking in the power the game still delivers a beautiful landscape to behold. Bushes, flowers and trees all choke the landscape with the light showing through each leaf. The beginning introduction serves as a learning how to standard in most games and getting used to the combat and keyboard actions. The game is quite adult in nature and begins with nudity not long after you start. Be warned this game is not for kids or immature people. Nudity is also a bit more optional as you DON'T have to seek it out and get the cut scenes.

Graphics 9.5/10
I can honestly say that this is the most beautifully built/rendered game I have ever seen. I know some people don't care about graphics and only the gameplay/combat but I think the reality of being sucked into a game starts with graphics. If so then be prepared. They literally left no stone unturned and yes the game looks great on the low settings and even more so on the ultra settings. The game uses DX9 and I was blown away by what they did with it. So much for touting DX11 lol. Nothing looks awkward or out of place to me.

UI - User Interface/Controls 7.5/10
This is where the game gets hurt the most. The interface is a bit of a mess to me and rather difficult to manuever through until you get the hang of it. I mean when you have to leave the game to set up graphics options that kind of sucks to me. Going thru the in game menus is also a mess at times and took me a while to get used to it. Not having a control option in the menu also sucked as the writing was a bit small during the intro learn how to in the game and I missed some things and literally had no idea which keys to use. I got killed more times by not knowing which keys to use. From what I have read using a Xbox controller on the PC actually made it easier (and now that it is coming to the Xbox I understand). I had to refer to the manual quite a few times to know which keys did what. Again once you get it memorized which keys do what it makes things easier and more rewarding. I found that the meditation menu is kind of a drag after a while as each action you do you have to back out of it separately and takes more time. They could have overhauled the whole interface but despite it it doesn't take away from the game. Another thing to note is the launcher - it was horrible before patch 1.1 as it would takes up to 2 minutes before the game actually launched. It also had issues with not connectly properly and would not update or install the DLC that came free. Thankfully the patch fixed it up and brings the time down to less than 20 seconds now but the connect error is still prevailent. I know it was due to the DRM that caused the issue but that is now removed. Patch 1.2 that goes live on June 3rd also gives us all the DLC up to date in the patch as they realized the launcher issues.

Combat 8.5/10
I found the combat rather difficult at first and though I am used to RPG combat over the years I have to admit I died a lot, I mean A LOT, due to the steep learning curve. Part of the issue goes back to the controls/UI and having a better UI would have saved me a lot of dying. Once you learn how to get past the learning curve of combat the game becomes much more enjoyable. You will find yourself giving up a lot during the beginning only because learning the keys will frustrate you as you die over and over again. One instance is when I discovered how to use items in my pocket it literally took me 30 seconds to win a fight against 6 enemies that I had died against 20 times and quit the game entirely 2 times. Fist fighting/Arm Wrestling/Knife throwing also require keys to be pressed at certain times in order to win them and don't require skill but instead watching for pop ups to guide you. It was a little jarring at first but soon I was winning and not dying/losing. Once you get the hang of combat it becomes rewarding but you will still die a lot.

Story - N/A (9/10)
Only still being in Chapter 1 I can't say how the story goes but I have read it ends rather abruptly making way for a future sequel. So far the story has intriqued me and has me hooked.

Intangibles/Fun Factor (10/10)
For me the biggest surprise was when I bought the game. The box was huge! I wondered what was in it and when I got it home and unboxed it I was a bit surprised to say the least. The game came with a making of DVD, CD Soundtrack, Maps, Posters, Paper Fold Men, a Coin in a nice little envelope and a mini Guide Book! That is a lot for a game these days and one that was cheaper than most new releases. This is the kind of thing that really impressed me as the Developer threw that kind of care and attention into a product and didn't charge an Extra $15-60 bucks for it! Also the fact that and future and current DLC is free also made me smile. This is the kind of stuff that makes you want to support them and get future releases. They have also made 3 patches for the game so far which while it makes you wary that the game could have that many bugs it also makes you breathe a sigh of relief that the Dev cares enough to support it post release and get issues worked out quickly. I myself have noticed that the quest lines get broken fairly easily and you can get lost not knowing what to do next at times. But being a RPG isn't half the fun exploring? Despite my early frustration with elements of the game it has quickly grown on me in a good way. Learning the system made it much more enjoyable.

Overall Bottom Line 8.9/10
Well worth the purchase if you're an RPG lover. If you don't like RPG's or challenges then maybe stay clear of the game but you will be missing out on a potential GOTY in my eyes. Some early frustration comes but learning the system helps make it much more enjoyable. The small flaws don't detract from the game but be ready for a steep learning curve. Stick with it and the game will stick with you. Xbox users will be getting the game now it was announced so it will reach a broader audience and hopefully gain more fandom. This game deserves it.

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