The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings (PC)

Geralt, the loveable silverfox sex-fiend of Rivia is back!

How many sweet lasses will he bed in this game…. Don’t find that particular thing out in my review for SquareGo.

 

 

Or read on below the cut…

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings

4/5

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings

When The Witcher first burst onto the scene, it was something of an anomaly. A devoutly singleplayer RPG with a heavy emphasis on story, characterisation, alchemy and not forcing morality onto anyone. It was absolutely an adult story. Complete with swearing, nudity and many lingering themes of societal unpleasantness, bigotry, racism and hatred. It was also plagued with a seemingly insurmountable quantity of bugs, translation errors and Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues. However, unlike many developers, CD Projekt evidently felt that they owed a little something to the loyal and vocal fan base of their game, opting not to abandon it, or just to make some token gesture, they spent a year retooling the game; improved and enhanced graphics, new quests and hours of re-translated and re-recorded dialogue. Rather than selling this redux version of the game to their fans, they released this mammoth downloadable content  pack for free, then removed all the DRM as a bonus.

Why are we telling you this? Because it’s important to understand the depth of commitment CD Projeckt put into The Witcher, especially since they’ve been more or less silent in the subsequent three years, tooling away at making the sequel. Well it’s here, it’s huge, it’s gorgeous, it’s brilliantly told but, much like it’s predecessor; it’s neither perfect, nor to everyone’s tastes.

We fall again into the shoes of amorous albino amnesiac Geralt of Rivia, this time as he reluctantly aids the lecherous and irritating King Folsted as he lays siege to a castle. Which, unfortunately, is probably as far as a third of people who play this will ever see. As the Witcher 2 has a huge issue which is glaringly obvious from the outset: It’s too goddamn hard. The new combat system is uncompromisingly brutal but ultimately fair, forcing players to think both strategically and defensively from the outset, challenging them to discover their own best techniques. Sadly, there’s a difference between making the beginning of a game a challenge and setting a learning curve so near vertical that only Ranulph Fiennes and Brian Blessed will ever see the summit. What’s more, early on players will be met with instakill moments and upwards of five armoured enemies at a time, when they’ve barely gotten to grips with which keys do what.

For lack of a better word, it’s hardcore and could never be accused of being anything other than adult. The quantities of blood shed in an average hour are almost on a par with the amount of flesh on display. Even Geralt himself can’t seem to go a day without stripping down to his underwear and showing off his bruised and scarred torso. Then again, with his androgynous face it’s possibly an attempt to negate how uncannily he looks like Draco Malfoy’s maiden aunt. The other side of this adult level of humour is the shameless mickey-taking that goes along with it. The utterly leftfield moment where the game pays a heavy homage to gross-out comedy blockbuster The Hangover, is particuarly notable and very amusing.

All of which is simply a side matter to the fact that despite the painfully hard opening, this is probably the finest example of a single player RPG ever made. From the haunting score and genuinely engaging plot, to the breathtakingly cinematic cut scenes and witty dialogue, it’s hard to say where else you’d find a more coherent and well rounded game. Quite simply, The Witcher 2 is a fine game, marred by a painful difficulty curve and the ominous lack of a very much needed tutorial section. Oh and if you have even the wildest notions of trying it with the higher quality visuals, be sure you have a friend at NASA, as few mortals will have access to computers powerful enough to run them.

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