The Witcher 2 Review

This review is an extension upon my preview that I wrote for the site back in April. Please read that if you would like a slightly more technical look at some of the systems in The Witcher 2. This review is based on version 1.0, or the released state of the game.

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The world of The Witcher 2 once again takes form loosely based upon the books of Andrzej Sapkowski, drawing upon its dark and merciless idiosyncrasy to weave a dire environment where humans and nonhumans are looked upon in stark contrast to one another, where each of the planet's inhabitants are imperfect and flawed in some untenable way. Whether its a band of elven warriors going by the name of Scoia'tael (or "Squirrels" as their malevolent opposers refer to them) fighting to end the racist remarks of their human counterparts, or the soldiers and politicians seeking to take more and more land and freedoms away from the so-called terrorist elves, everyone carries with them a vengeful agenda that threatens to ruin the very fabric of society and its citizens that only wish to live a normal, common livelihood.

Geralt, the feared and exalted monster-slaying mutated human with a knack of getting caught in unfortunate predicaments, finds himself imposed into a dire situation. After participating in a drawn out battle with an army of traitorous soldiers attempting a coup de tat, Folest, King of Temeria and Prince of Sodden, is dead, having been slain by a tall, lion-sized man who bears the traits of a Witcher standing only feet away from where the oblivious Geralt was standing.

The mysterious murderer escapes out a nearby window right before the king's guards show up and arrest the silver-haired wolf at the scene of the crime. After escaping from prison under the guise of night thanks to one of the king's most trusted elite officers, Geralt must now seek out this barbarian and attempt to seek justice, a word not often used in his vocabulary due to his secular nature of not taking sides. He also perseveres in order to seek out some sort of cure for the amnesia that riddled him in the original game, made all the more difficult through the encounters he faces from the adverse people that he has wronged in the past and whom seek his death.

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It is this powerful narrative that has been carried with such fanciful grace over the past two games in The Witcher that has turned it into a sort of a relic among others in its genre. The world, its characters, and the vivid atmosphere have all been fashioned in such spectacular fashion that anyone with even a hint of an eye for natural beauty will find a lot to love in this paramount magnum opus from CD Projekt RED. Utilizing a brand new engine built from the ground up for their newest project, called the RED Engine, The Witcher 2 capitalizes on the latest in computer graphic technology to construct one of the must visually arresting games to ever appear on the platform. Animations flow smoothly, vegetation is fluid and alive, environments seem to stretch on for miles, and characters come alive as they all perform their cyclical routines day in and day out. Crowded cities and large open environments do a great job at establishing a well-realized and heavily detailed world for Geralt to roam around in.

For reasons made obvious through the screenshots you are seeing and the videos you may have watched, many computers will struggle to run this game at high settings, let alone on ultra, which is where this game can blow your eye sockets off. Fortunately, there are a bevy of graphical options to choose from to ensure that your computer is always making the most of where it can perform at. If you have a capable machine, however, it is hard not to get lost in the pure splendor of it all when you are in the middle of the game.

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All of this is wrapped up in a strong execution of technical achievement that cements the team from Poland's place in the annals of great Western RPG developers in the same echelon as the likes of BioWare and Bethesda. Hours upon hours of solid gameplay content wrapped around a rich narrative filled with game-changing decisions made by the player during tree-like dialogue between players combine to form one of the more extraordinary compositions to ever come out of a relatively unknown developer in quite some time, and one that practically turns the genre on its head in what a video game is capable of producing in terms of artistic achievements. This is especially true when it comes to its monumentally dynamic soundtrack, produced by the genius duo of Pawel Blaszczak and Adam Skorupa, and the impressive voice cast that altogether help sweep the player into another captivating entry into Geralt's saga.

However, some of the core features of the game do experience their fair share of flaws: it has incredibly lousy (though bearable) mouse-clicking combat that requires a good amount of utility to get used to the way Geralt moves around; the ineptitude of the tutorials given to the player that do little to actually do what they are designed to do - help; a questing system that for a majority of the time does a great job in causing a massive headache, especially when it comes to navigating without a compass; and a polarizing journal system. The story can also be a little too convoluted at times, with characters and locations being introduced on an almost constant basis that it can be difficult to follow if one is not paying close enough attention to it.

Let me perfectly clear, though - pound for pound, The Witcher 2 is definitely a memorable and undeniably compelling work of pure craftsmanship, and comes highly recommended for both PC RPG loyalists and those looking for something to really sink free time into. Howeer, I would also strongly advocate newcomers to play the first game, if not to witness a textbook example of how to radically improve upon a game in a real tangible way. Let us just hope that the team at CD Projekt RED take note of the flaws I noted above while working on the inevitable Witcher 3.

9