Friday, May 27, 2011

The Witcher 2 Official Review

Every so often a game comes along that doesn't simply live up to expectations, doesn't even simply exceed those expectations, it completely redefines a genre.  That is what The Witcher 2 has done, it has established itself as the new Standard for Action RPGs.  The graphics, the sound, the storyline, the depth of characters and incredibly meaningful decisions that you make throughout the game, make this not just a great game, but truly an Epic Win.

 You are Geralt, the fellow on the right in this picture, with his significant other Triss, on the left.  Geralt is a famous Witcher, which is someone who has three major abilities, sword, magic, and alchemy, the latter being the ability to create and drink potions which temporarily improve your stats.  During the course of the game you'll use all of those abilities and more, although as you level up you'll choose which 'skill tree' or trees you'll be investing your ability points into.  Would you rather focus on your swordplay abilities, or maybe get some of both the swordplay and magic abilities?  The choices are yours, a theme that will be on powerful display throughout the game.  Choices and decisions are a huge part of what makes RPGs great, and you won't find better than TW2.  From very early in the game you'll make important decisions that can make a major difference in the gaming world.  Who lives and who dies is often up to you, and sometimes, like in one particularly important decision late in Chapter One, your decision will have a VERY profound effect on the world going forward, so much so that the second Chapter of the game plays out completely differently depending on that choice, from which town you end up in to which side of an upcoming war you side with, and all the consequences that naturally flow from all those things.  I know of no other game that has ever packed anywhere near this much power into the choices that you the player are allowed to make, the consequences are profound, and you really feel like you're making a huge difference in the world, because you are.

Whether you're on the side of this beautiful lady, Saskia, in her battle for Freedom and Independence is entirely up to you, your choices determine which side you end up on, hers or the king who seeks to crush her and her peasant-army.  But that isn't until Chapter Two, you've got a lot to do and accomplish before then Witcher!  And that, of course, includes romance.  Geralt begins the game with Triss (which, strangely, is even true if you import a save from TW1 in which you romanced Shani instead), a very attractive red-haired sorceress who is very much in love with you.  You, of course, can be in love with her as well, or not.  As this game is all about choices, you can choose to be faithful to Triss, or to stray with a number of different women.  In fact, as the game progresses another major love interest from Geralt's past is repeatedly mentioned and eluded to, and presumably you'll meet her either in a future DLC or Expansion for TW2, or in TW3.  But there are certainly enough women around already to test your committment to Triss.  Also, while on the topic of romances, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Love Scenes.  These aren't super-mild events like in Dragon Age 2, they aren't even tame-but-'controversial' like in Mass Effect.  These are very detailed scenes, tastefully done, but still quite graphic.  Overall they're a major improvement over the likes of DAO/DA2 and ME2, but they might be a bit much for some folks, so if you choose to share an intimate moment with the lady of your choice, be prepared for far more than anything you've seen in Ferelden or on the Normandy.

As you can see from the pictures, this game is a graphical masterpiece, a truly beautiful sight to behold.  The sounds, including the voice acting, are also awesome.  No game is without its faults, and TW2 does have a few, most notably that while Geralt is a fine Hero of the game, he isn't customizable at all.  You can't play as a female character, something that most folks would probably like to be able to do.  You can't change the skin color, hair color, eye color, etc. of the character in any way either.  The complete lack of customizing options is a letdown, and stands in stark contrast to most major RPGs these days, for whom character creation options are standard.  Hopefully the next TW game will have the same character customization options as games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout, and Fable, just to name a few.  As fun as it is playing as a generic male, white haired Witcher, it would probably be a lot more fun playing as a Witcher who looks like Triss or Saskia.  Also on the negative side, there's an over-abundance of bad language in the game.  I don't understand why they felt the need for so much bad language, there's certainly no need for it, its a shame they allowed so much bad language to pollute the beautiful environment of this game.

There's never been a game quite like The Witcher 2, it is simply incredible from start to finish.  From the challenging yet fun combat, to the beautiful characters and scenery, to the extremely impactful decisions you make that effect so much of the gaming world and the people in it, this game is quite simply a masterpiece.  The Witcher 2 gets a score of 98 out of 100.  A point off for all the bad language, a point off for the lack of Character Customization, other than that a perfect score!  I encourage everyone to buy and enjoy The Witcher 2 today!

No comments: