Beyond Co-Op Reviews - June 2011 - Page 3

Publisher: CD Projekt
Developer: CD Projekt
MSRP: $49.99
by: Tally "Xelissa" Callahan

I played the Witcher (the Enhanced Edition) a couple years back. I found it to be a decent game with some interesting ideas, but a little rough around the edges with some frustrating flaws. I put it down one day and never got back around to finishing it. Fast forward to May 2011. With cautious optimism, I bought a digital copy of the Witcher 2 on sale. I beat it in four or five days (and it’s not a short game). I simply could not put the game down.

The Witcher 2 is, for lack of a better word, an evolved experience. Many of the same characters make reappearances from the first game and the world has a similar dark, dangerous feeling, but it’s as if all the raw potential I saw in the Witcher was finally polished and perfected in the Witcher 2. In general, the game is about telling a story - but a story the way you want to tell it. My Geralt loves Triss Merigold, places love before honor, and feels kinship with the elves and dwarves because as a mutant he’s similarly shunned by humans. Your Geralt might just enjoy friendly romps with Triss, value his honor above all else, and see the elves as terrorists, plain and simple. This type of character development is not only done with the standard cinematic dialogue options, but also with completely different experiences in the game. For example, based on a decision you make at the end of first chapter of the game, much of the rest of the game will be a completely different experience. Different main quests, side quests, the whole deal. The game also has sixteen different endings, which is mighty impressive.

The combat is much improved from the first game (though it can take a little while to get used to at first) and players are provided with different ways to customize the way they fight by putting points into passives as they level up. If you enjoy slinging spells, you can choose to go down the sign path which upgrades and improves the basic signs you have access to from the start of the game. If you like charging into the fray, you can go down the sword mastery path and learn how to really dish out the pain with your steel and silver swords. Or if you really like the alchemy/potion system, you can go down the alchemy path and improve the effectiveness and durations of your potions. Or, as many will do, you can mix and match different passives from all three, picking the skills that suit your playstyle the best. A note of caution: the game starts offsomewhat difficult and you’re somewhat thrown into the game with little instruction on how many of the mechanics work; however, once you take some time to figure them out and as you progress through the game, the difficulty gets more manageable.

I can’t really say too much more about the game without spoiling things, but I will say that I started playing the Witcher 2 with moderate expectations and finished playing it with it on my list of favorite RPGs. I can’t stress how impressed I am with how certain decisions can lead you down completely different paths, a method that many developers strive for, but seldom manage to actually pull off. This game was simply a joy to play and I can’t wait to see where CD ProjectRed goes with it next.

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