The Witcher 2 is an epic game, full of some of the most impressive dialogue and storytelling that we have ever seen, but then if you have played the PC version you already know that. What you will not know though is how well this game translates to Xbox 360 and just how the promised extras, which are also coming to PC, add to the game. Well you needn’t worry, because The Witcher 2 is just as fantastic on the Xbox 360, in fact this is one title that rivals THE other fantasy RPG, Skyrim, all the way.
From the moment The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition loads up on your Xbox 360, you realise that you are in for something special.
From the moment The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition loads up on your Xbox 360 you realise that you are in for something special. A brand new intro movie greets you with the plot as you watch a king being slain on his very own ship. It’s one of the most dramatic and impressive opening scenes you’ll ever have bared witness to on Microsoft’s console. ‘Stunning’ is the word which came to my mind as I watched it, with my eyes unable to part from the screen for one moment. This level of visual story telling continues throughout the game as you take control of the wrongly accused king killer, the Witcher known as Geralt and try to clear your name.
Before we go on to the main part of the game it’s worth mentioning one of the main enhancements included in the Xbox 360 version is the tutorial mode. This large section allows you to get used to the many aspects of the combat and magic. It’s certainly a well implemented system, with a pop-up box giving you an overview of the important aspects of the controls. This includes the use of quick access menus; your inventory; combat; defensive moves and magic. It’s also important in that it’ll give you useful tips, did you know for instance that you’ll need a silver sword if you want to take care of the more super natural-like creatures quickly and efficiently?
Once you have recovered from the stunning spectacle of the opening movie and the new and extremely useful tutorial mode you will be introduced to Geralt in his current plight. It’s important to mention this, as when you first meet Geralt you’ll find him being interrogated in a jail in the kingdom of Temeria by Vernon Roche. This is basically the prologue to the game, giving you an idea of what the assassinated King Foltest was like and what you’re role was in helping him as Geralt recounts the events leading up to his death.
The prologue is a fantastic introduction to what follows, however once you manage to complete this part of the game, this is where the fun really begins. Throughout each of the following chapters you’ll have the opportunity to take many paths, most of which will shape how your journey plays out. These decisions will also change how you are treated by others within the game, meaning that no two paths are the same and also giving you the perfect excuse to play through more than once.
What’s even more impressive is that developer CD Projekt has managed to squeeze even an additional four hours of gameplay on to the two discs. Without spoiling what’s on offer, this extra content will take you through a new underground system, forests and more, all of which will introduce you to new characters. The most impressive part of this is that it’s perfectly moulded into the story of the main game, therefore it never feels like you are playing in an adventure that has just been tacked on for the sake of it.
For those who have never played before, the gameplay is a solid mix of adventuring and action. Geralt takes on enemies with a mixture of blocking, parrying and special finishing moves. It’s not all button bashing to win the day though. As mentioned, Geralt has two swords to choose from, a steel blade which is good for dealing with human foes and a silver sword that is more effective against the monsters that lurk around the lands darker corners. You must also take into consideration Geralts Vigor bar, which is directly linked to his defence and Sign casting, with each block and special power using a segment. The Signs on offer are a mixture of defensive and offensive moves like the telekinetic push which can stun enemies and also be used on certain environments to unearth hidden walkways; a temporary shield that negates the need to block and a mind control that when successful will cause enemies to stand side by side with you in an attack. The Signs that Geralt uses are identified by an emblem which is selected using the shoulder button, therefore if you know you will need to make use of an offensive spell, then it’s best to get it ready beforehand so that you can use a one button press during battle to cast the spell.
At heart The Witcher 2 is a RPG, which of course means that you’ll be able to spend points gained from experience on abilities under three main paths (not including the training which is compulsory). These paths will allow you to shape your character, whether you want him to be efficient at casting spells, combat or alchemy. Other RPG elements will allow you to enhance weaponry, drink potions and of course, search for treasure and loot from both fallen enemies and in random locations.
With a job that requires being alone in the wilderness for long periods of time Geralt is also able to create and craft (with some assistance) items which can boost stats when taken in his meditation state before a fight, allowing for a slow health recharge or even giving the ability to place oils on his blade, i.e. poison, to give you an added edge in battle.
There is, of course, more to Witcher 2 than combat, improved skills and treasure. To break up the non-stop action, the villages you visit during your quest also offer a variety of mini games to earn extra cash, with pub games like Dice Poker, Arm Wrestling and even Combat Arena fighting all on offer. Mix this in with the incredibly detailed story and the numerous side quests you can partake in if you so wish, and you can see why The Witcher 2 is without a doubt one of the most impressive Fantasy RPG’s to hit Xbox 360 since the console came into existence.
If we were to end the review now, it’d already be pretty obvious that we intent to reward this game full marks, however we haven’t even covered the presentation yet. While perhaps not quite up to Uncharted standards, it has to be said that The Witcher 2 looks simply stunning and instantly pulls you into its amazing world. The graphics set the tone throughout the game, with plenty of colourful environments and impressive cut scenes gracing the screen throughout the entire adventure. There are a few moments when the screens tears, however these are few and far between and are to be expected from a game of Witcher 2′s size and scale.
The Witcher 2 looks simply stunning and instantly pulls you into its amazing world.
Complimenting the games presentation is the wonderful voice acting and an equally impressive soundtrack. The music is certainly special, adding to the atmosphere no end and making you glad that these wonderfully crafted sounds are included as standard in enhanced edition of the game, along with a quest book, a beautifully designed map and the game manual.
Quality fantasy RPG’s are hard to come by on current consoles, many have tried and with the exception of Bethedsa and to a lesser extent, 38 Studios, most have failed to live up to expectations. In the Witcher 2, at last we have a challenger for the crown, it may not have Skyrim’s open ended world, but what it does have is a story and action to match. CD Projekt has arrived on consoles in style, if this is just the beginning of that journey then I for one can’t wait for the future.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: Xbox 360)
Pre-order The Witcher 2 for Xbox 360 here.