Witcher 2 Finished!
Witcher 2 has got to be one the most spectacular games I’ve played in a while. I’m not sure why I held off from playing it ever since I got my new graphics card last summer just for this game. Usually there would be other big name RPGs like Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 to play. Witcher 2 was always being put up back into my back log. Now that I have some chance to actually dive into playing it, I have to say that playing Witcher 2 is an amazing experience.
The first thing that I noticed was how beautiful the graphics were. I had an older graphic card when I started playing this game and I felt that I wasn’t getting the full experience so I bought a new card just for this game. That’s really saying something when I wanted to buy a new graphic card just so I can get a better experience. It means that the graphics really add to the gameplay experience. From the moment you see the sun shine through the forest in Witcher 2, you know that you’re in for a spectacular delight. All the locations are unique to each other and there is always a sense of scale to how large the world of the Witcher is. Character designs are also well done with very high detail character models. Each armor that you put on Geralt (main character in the game) looks unique to each other. There are zippers, pockets, and hoodies that makes each armor feel unique and give a sense of style to the character. This is a game for graphic whores and I’m glad to have bought my new graphic card for this. Even now I plan to rebuild my computer to play this game a second time with a better processor. I am now in High Settings but I want to try to get it to it’s “Uber Settings.”
Speaking about the second play through, the game literally wants you to play it more than one time. CD Projekt Red has made the game so that each locations that you visit is unique to the choices you make in the game. For example, there will be one big choice that you decide at the end of chapter 1 which will determine which location you go to. Each locations has it’s own set of quests and dialogues that you will not see unless you made the other choices. It is a very risky and costly idea for CD Projekt Red to do this. Just imagine the development time it took to make this new location with quests and dialogues that some players won’t even see. Other developers are afraid to do this since they want players to see everything they made in the game. That is why games like Mass Effect 3 or Fable don’t have decisions that really diverge as much from the story. Even though choices matter in those games, you’re mostly bound to see the same people and same quests as everyone. Even the choices in this game are very grey to the point that it was taking me a good time to figure out what I want to do. There is no right or wrong answers in the game and the story will progress but the choices you make matters a lot. The worst thing is that you can tell what will happen if you make a certain choice. Knowing that makes decisions harder since you’re not sure if you should kill off this character who if you let live might be the cause of an end of a civilization. And if you kill him then you just lost the reason for the cause you’re fighting for. Each choices matter and you can tell that there is never a true right choice. Other games like Mass Effect and Fable both go the other route in saying how any choice is the right choice but you decide how your character is developed. However in Witcher 2, you’re deciding how the fate of the world will be and not so much as how your character will be.
Questing in the game is short but very fun. There are only a few handfulls of side quests and they are all unique to each other. Some will even help out with the main quests which was a nice touch. The interesting idea about the quests in Witcher 2 is that it doesn’t really hold your hands as your completing it. The quests may sometime not even tell you where to go or who to talk to. It may just say “Go find X so you can do Y” or “Read the notes and solve the riddle to find the location of X.” Unlike other RPGs these days, Witcher 2 will force you to read the notes you uncover throughout the exploration to solve some quests. RPGs these days hold your hands so much that they show you where you have to go and even point out who or what you have to kill. It is a nice departure to figure things out by myself and I felt better when I do complete the quests.
As for the story, it took me a while to get use to it. You play as Geralt of Rivia who is a witcher with amnesia. Yea I know classic RPG cliche right? Anyways most of the game you’re trying to figure out what happened to your friends and even figure out why certain things are happening. This may have been a good time to introduce the world of the witcher to new players but like the quests, CD Projekt Red doesn’t hold your hands in the story. Things are already happening before you even start playing as Geralt. You’re as lost as Geralt and the story wants you to put the pieces all by yourself. Many things have happened in the past game and there might be hints of it. The only thing I know about the past game is the stuff I read from Wikipedia but I highly suggest players to read that before playing the game. It helps you get a sense of who some characters are and what they have been doing. I felt like the story was similar to Game of Thrones. There are really not much similarities but the style is the same. Both the book and game starts off with things like wars and deaths that have happened already. Characters may talk about it but you don’t really know the full detail of the event until you read further into the story. There is even a feud with different Kings trying to take over each other lands similar to the book. Though they may be similar in certain beats of the story, the story is still unique to itself.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is the gameplay. It has been a while since I’ve played a game with a combat system as fluid looking as the Witcher 2. The last game was probably Batman: Arkham City and I still believe that game still have the best fighting mechanics. Witcher 2′s combat is fast but you need to strategize before every battle early in the game. Once you’re surrounded by 2-3 enemies, you’ll most likely die. You have to set up traps, use bombs, sharpen your sword, drink potions, and use your signs (magic) before/during every battle. The battles only get easier once you level up and add new abilities. The animations in combat for Geralt has got to me some of the most impressive animations I’ve seen. He moves very fluidly from one enemy to another. He will do jumps, cartwheels, and even spin his sword depending on how far the enemy is and what the enemy is doing. It is awesome and I never got tired of it. The enemies animations aren’t that great but you’re mostly looking at Geralt in action that it really didn’t make a difference. Even writing about it makes me want to play the game over again just to fight enemies as Geralt.
The atmosphere of this game is amazing. Characters are doing their own things and talking about their own lives. When rain falls, everyone starts talking about how wet it is or how it doesn’t fall as much where they come from. There is not much to do in towns except walking around and talking with others so it really helps that they have their own things going on. The graphics, locations, characters, story, and the combat made Witcher 2 a game that is really worth playing. I highly recommend playing it on a nice PC as the graphics really add to the experience. If not the PC, at least the Xbox 360 version just to get a sense of what this game is all about. I had a great experience with it and I hope to do it again with difference choices the next play through.