Monday, May 16, 2011

The Witcher 2 Preview

At last, the much anticipated Preview for the potential 2011 Game of the Year, The Witcher 2, is here!  In preparation for this Preview, I actually went back and played a lot of the old game, the original, the very first Witcher game, and I have to say, that while of course there was room for improvement, it really was an awesome game, even better than I remembered.  We know that the Graphics of The Witcher 2 are going to be superior to the original, they're top of the line and cutting edge, but the original's graphics were already pretty awesome! 

 This is just a taste of what we can expect in the sequel.  I suppose this picture reveals not only the graphical strength of the game, but also, sadly, its one, glaring weakness.  Particularly when you compare it to games like Fallout or Dragon Age, the one area where the game falls not just short but badly short, is in the area of Character Customization.  In most modern RPGs you can create your own character, give them whatever face and gender you want, dress them up however you want.  All that is entirely absent in The Witcher series, and it's a shame, as a world this incredibly detailed and deep should be explorable by a character of your own creation, one that you as a player are guaranteed to enjoy playing as, not a completely un-editable generic character that may or may not appeal to an individual gamer.  For all the amazing advancements these folks have brought not just to the series but to Action-RPG gaming as a whole, this area is very sorely lacking.  The excuse they give is that the character is 'based on a book', and that's why they didn't include customization.  That of course is an absurd excuse, because we aren't playing a book, we're playing a game, and as a game it would be much nicer if we could decide how the character looks.  The character could be the same basic person, from the same land, have the same personality, the same friends, the same missions, etc. regardless of their race/gender/clothing.  So leaving this common, and very important feature, out of the game is a definite negative, no two ways about it.

Having gotten the negative out of the way, I really see nothing else but positive ahead.  I mentioned the graphics, we all know that cool graphics are nice, but they aren't everything, FAR from it.  It truly is the Gameplay that is where The Witcher shines, and where I believe that The Witcher 2 will shine, if indeed it is as good as it seems that it will be.  Let me start right out by mentioning someething that they have Officially confirmed, and that is that not only are there 16 different Endings to the game, but there are 4 different openings!  Of course that's because the strength of this game has always been its epic storylines, and more importantly your opportunity to shape them.  No doubt a lot of the criticism of Dragon Age 2, released a couple months ago to very mixed reviews, was due to the fact that they inexplicably decided to go away from the very cool model of the original, of giving the player plenty of opportunities to make meaningful decisions that impact the main storyline.  It can be said that DA2 is a lot closer to FF13 than DAO in that regard.  The Witcher, and The Witcher 2, by contrast, are much more in line with the DAO tradition of meaningful and impactful choices and decision-making.  This is what we as gamers want, we want our decisions not only to feel good at the time, but to matter down the line.  That's what TW2 promises, and I look forward to seeing if they truly do deliver, as I expect they will.

Doesn't that look like a really cool forest to explore?  I can't wait!  I'm definitely looking forward to The Witcher 2's release, it's less than 24 hours away!  Thanks to a deal that the TW2 folks made with a wesbite called 'Good Old Games', a site that is actually known for selling older games (including the original Witcher game) you can actually download the game RIGHT NOW, over 9GB worth of download, and then play the game on the 17th, and not only that, but you get 5 dollars off the regular price!  That's right, 44.99 instead of 49.99, you can't beat that deal!  If you haven't preordered yet, I highly reccomend you do so right away, I honestly believe there is a real potential for this game to be the 2011 Game of the Year, don't miss it!

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