'Witcher 2' impresses non-fantasy fans.
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 18:04
As big of a fan as I am of the RPG genre of video games, it comes to the surprise of most of my fans that I am not a particularly big fan of fantasy. While the storytelling aspect and character driven qualities have always drawn me to the genre, there’s just something about worlds based around mechanics with no scientific explanation that just can’t grow on me. In short, whenever I praise more traditional fantasy RPGs, such enthusiasm stems from experiencing something that truly rises to the cream of the crop; a level that I am proud to put “The Witcher 2” on, after finally having experienced it for the Xbox 360.
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novel series of the same name, “The Witcher 2” –or “The Enhanced Edition” for console gamers– continues the story of Geralt of Rivia, an amnesiac spell casting assassin, on a mission to track down an assassin of kings who has murdered the lord under which he was serving.
The best way that I can really sum up “The Witcher 2” is that it is a melting pot of the best of RPG mechanics. Despite being controlled by the player, a sense of character is instilled in Geralt beyond that of the typical cipher for the players to interact with the world.
The world itself is a fascinating case; despite a bit of a drab color palette, undoubtedly a product of its dark fantasy nature, the setting of the game is beautifully rendered and rich in individual details. The lands traversed are intricately designed and I’m always a sucker for NPC that follow their own schedules independent of the player’s interaction.
Honestly, I found almost every aspect of the storytelling to be very technically impressive. The story is very maturely told without ever feeling gratuitous and the twists and turns that the plot take become all the more intriguing when taking into account the different ways that the player’s individual choices factor into play. It honestly reminds me of a lot of the better moments of a lot of Bioware games, such as “Dragon Age II” or “Mass Effect 3.”
The storytelling along with the composition of Geralt’s tale itself are so well crafted that I find myself easily forgiving the minor hiccups of the combat system. It isn’t bad, per se, but could have used a bit more refinement, particularly spell casting, which should have been implemented far more intuitively. This complications in spell casting caused by constant menu navigation pushes melee as the primary means of combat, which is fun thanks to a decently crafted combo system, but can grow repetitive and will more than likely be disappointing to those used to using caster classes in RPGs.
And, lest PC gamers make claim that this is a flaw inherently wrong with console gaming, I see exactly what “The Withcher 2: The Enhanced Edition” was trying to pull off. I fault it for its mistake not for its roots on the PC but because I’ve seen other games execute its play style better.
For all of the minor issues that I can pick at however, I’ll be keeping my eye on “The Witcher” series in the future. With “Mass Effect” wrapped up, I’ve been looking for a new franchise to take its place alongside “Dragon Age” as my key franchises and if it continues to improve upon future releases, it’s sure to be a lock in.