The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review
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Richly textured and stuffed with memorable moments, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a marvel among role-playing games.
- Morally ambiguous choices lead to game-changing consequences
- A number of exciting and memorable moments
- Phenomenal visuals with a grim tone
- Involving tale of lost memories and political allegiances
- Fun, challenging combat with a satisfying sense of impact.
- A variety of bugs
- Combat sometimes ventures into cheap territory
- Unsatisfying conclusion.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a gift, gilded with moments that stay with you even after the curtains close on its dark tale of uncertain pasts and uncertain futures. Like the rare Roses of Remembrance you might find growing in this role-playing game's lush fields, these moments are carefully cultivated. They're meaningful not just because they are packed with excitement, but also because there are stakes--both personal and political. As Geralt of Rivia, your actions don't just bring you closer to the truths of your own murky history, but they also influence the tides of war. And just as you exert your power on this game's events, they work their power on you, drawing you further into a gorgeous world populated by quarrelling trolls and drunken, sex-crazed dwarves. Some bugs, combat quirks, and other foibles prove bothersome, but they don't greatly diminish the impact of exploring a dungeon whose walls ooze the agony you've just witnessed. This superb role-playing sequel offers a bold world woven together by tenuous alliances and closely guarded secrets.
The Witcher 2's phenomenal visual design isn't its defining characteristic, but it's an effective lure and makes for an immediate connection with the game's provocative tone. On the outskirts of a dwarven enclave, sunlight glistens upon a misty pond; a tower just beyond it bristles with potent magical properties; the underbrush surrounding you casts deep shadows, yet rays of golden sun coax you onward. In The Witcher 2, sights like these communicate so much. The delicate lace of a sorceress's collar gives her a regal air, yet dark makeup and dark brown eyes speak to mysteries beneath the surface. A red scar above a defiant elf's upper lip is not just a testament to past violence--it suggests a permanent scowl. Walls, cliffs, and meadows aren't just repeated textures. Look closely at the patterns carved into a stone column, and you notice how each one is slightly different. These may seem like unimportant details, but they're indicators of how much care went into every facet of this game's environments and character models.
The superlative art is rendered by equally superlative technology that ensures you can admire the rips on a mercenary's trousers, a harpy's individual feathers, and the buckles and seams on Geralt's clothing. Yet The Witcher 2 is as much about grand gestures as it is textural detail. You cross paths with a giant dragon and other grotesqueries, each of which moves with a sense of weight appropriate to the creature's proportions. Pungent colors, roaring flames, and shafts of glowing light make mainstay environments like sewers and caves a wonder to explore. Impressively, all of this beauty is rendered using DirectX 9 technology rather than the newer DirectX 11. The game is nevertheless demanding of your hardware, though it is attractive even at lower settings. A few imperfections stand out amidst all the graphical wizardry, such as mechanical facial animations, characters that pop in during cutscenes, and the occasional frame rate dip. But such quibbles are easily tolerated in this luxuriant digital world.
And what a world it is, alive with activity yet tinged with violence and sorrow. The opening moments ready you for the game's brutal overtones, showing a captive Geralt of Rivia whipped and taunted by his jailers. Geralt's defaced flesh is not an easy sight to take in, but it's thematically relevant: The witcher is scarred by his past. Geralt, once thought dead, is still piecing together his memories of a savage battle and a beauty called Yennefer. The story takes its cue from these lost memories, juxtaposing violence and sex. It also presents both as inevitable and natural results of the human (and nonhuman) condition. You can still bed various women in The Witcher 2, as you could in the original game, though you no longer collect sex cards. Lovemaking (or ploughing, as so many characters call it) is a frequent subject of conversation, and it's one of Geralt's favorite pastimes. You can bed a few different women, and the game hardly shies from nudity, handily earning its mature rating. The lacerations on Geralt's back are a stark reminder, however, that this earthly pleasure is only a temporary respite for him.
But The Witcher 2 is not primarily about sex, nor violence. It's about the search for truth. Geralt seeks clues to his past, as well as the royal assassin that ended the life of King Foltest at the conclusion of The Witcher. This man's identity is not a secret for long, but then, this is not a murder mystery; rather, it's a chronicle of discovery, redemption, and political upheaval. Geralt is blamed for Foltest's murder, but as he gets closer to the true killer, he becomes more and more involved in the region's power struggles. Not including the prologue and epilogue, The Witcher 2 is split into three acts. The first is primarily concerned with following the killer's trail, while the second greatly expands the plot, introducing so many new characters and so much lore that you might be initially confused. Yet, the convoluted plot seems poised to explode in the final episode, only to fizzle at the end. The lack of closure intimates a sequel, and it makes the final act feel abrupt when compared to the robustness of the first two.
Characters new and old both assist and hinder Geralt's quest. These include the flamboyant bard Dandelion and the earthy Zoltan, a foul-mouthed dwarf who, like most of The Witcher 2's dwarves, loves women and drink. Dwarves are a rich source of humor in most role-playing games, and The Witcher 2's are no exception. Yet, the tone is different here. These are the raunchiest dwarves you've ever encountered, yet the comedy is undercut by underlying anguish. It's initially funny to learn that teetotaling dwarves are outcasts. But when a dwarf confides that he fears being ostracized because he doesn't drink, you understand his dread. You might admire a bearded character's enthusiasm for heading to battle for the first time, but when pressed, he admits his misgivings. Aside from the occasional expository speech, most of the dialogue sounds natural, including the asides spoken by random citizens. Most of the voice actors do a good job of bringing these characters to life, in spite of the occasional hollow note. (The actress playing Triss Merigold again sounds like a random meter maid rushed into the studio for some last-minute line readings.)
The Witcher 2 is not an open-world game in the way of The Elder Scrolls games; each area is relatively contained though expansive enough to encourage exploration. The rewards for doing so aren't just pretty vistas. You might uncover a chest that can be opened only by interpreting the clues on a nearby scroll or stumble upon a giant arachnid guarding treasure. However, the game's flexibility isn't a result of wide-open journeys; it is the extraordinary ways you can influence the story and fundamentally change the direction of your future travels. For example, choices you make at the end of Act 1 not only determine how immediate story events play out, but also have a dramatic impact on the entire game. The characters at your side, the enemies you face, the dialogue--they all differ based on a series of decisions that the game never forgets. And these aren't "good" or "bad" choices: these are ambiguous circumstances with ambiguous results, which is just as well. Geralt is not interested in heroism or villainy. He navigates turbulent waters seeking neither justice nor injustice, only answers.
Actually the game doesn't shy away from FEMALE nudity. It's a pretty sexist game when you get right down to it and the game play really isn't anything to brag about. I prefer an emphasis on that instead of pretty art.
I keep getting bored and have yet to finish it.
Should the pc version not get one of those reviews revisited things, it's a lot better now than it was when released 2 years ago
Playing this badass game nowdays on PC & really liking it, Story, Visuals, combats Mechanics are amazing indeed, there are some glitches though but that's ignorable. I have played skyrim too & gotta admit that The witcher 2 is way more better if you talk about Story, Graphics, Combat system, Skyrim was just too huge with boring story and lots of stuff to do.
@Danishaslam Yes but how many hours have you spend on SKYRIM???
@mixalisss13 @Danishaslam Yes every one says skyrim they got bored of skyrim but they won't realize how much time they have played it. I played 250+ hours.
And I enjoyed skyrim and witcher 2 as equal even though both are so much different from each other
You enjoying this game, is a matter of taste. I was so excited when i bought a copy that i ran home to see it. For me, is not that good. I mean, do you know the reason of the huge lack of official gameplays? The combat system is very wierd and limited in weapon kind. you have 7 spells at your disposal, but they dont feel exiting at all.
This is not a game with cinematics, this is a big cinematic with a game included...
Interesting opinion and I think you may be correct since the developer requires flashy visuals in order to make their games beleiveable.
What was the name of the song in the beginning of the review video? I can't seem to find it on the soundtrack.
Good game. Very memorable. Is it a 9? Probably an 8 or 8.5. Is it worth playing? Sure. Memorable because the main character is "The" anti-hero and the choices available for him are memorable. The story is above par and the graphics are a plus.
He's right. the fonts are too small, as the HUDs are. of course RED Engine does not have enough effectiveness, I think. You have to have a strong GPU! Characters have really difficult names such as Demavend, Serrit, Dethmold, .....!!! yet there's still unacceptable bugs in the game. but I admire the 16 different endings, voice acting, good-sized main story, characters , ......
i HATE those f@$k FONTS in the game they are very small sized. how the f@$k we should see them. and when u play it on 800*600 u will really don't know what the f@$k u doing.
Is there any planned PS3 release for this game? I have the enhanced edition of the first game on PC but sadly cant play it due to lack of specs... :( but I will play it one day though :) just wondered if a PS3 release was due this year?
@Kevin-V The EE patch is released for the PC. Will you be making an update for this page (and game title)?
The only major flaw I found in this masterpiece is that the amount of gameplay it offers is relatively less than the cinematic sequences. But I really enjoyed those cinematic sequences and the complex and deep story. The good thing is CDP is still releasing new materials for the game, and for FREE, and that's what keeps me playing it again and again. The combat's really good after being fixed by patch 2.0. Don't try to compare it with Dark Souls. Dark Souls is about making each strike count while dodging as many attacks as possible, while The Witcher 2 is about character development.
@ShubhamCh Skyrim is ass compared to this. Skyrim's combat sucked, the main story was boring as fuck, and there weren't too many voices in the game. Also, the amount of glitches were in the hundreds.The inventory was the most obvious flaw which been pointed out time and time again and one that has already been fixed by modders for the PC version. Regardless, the stock inventory of the game is ridiculously counter-intuitive and wastes a lot of your time compared to the inventories of Oblivion or Morrowind. Stealth has never been a strong point of the Elder Scrolls games but Skyrim has taken many steps backwards. It?s one thing to get your sneak up to 100 and steal the armor off of guard?s backs left and right; it?s another to only be in the 30s levels of sneak and have AI be looking right at you but not discover you. This happened to me several times, mostly in dark places. The Witcher 2 kicks Skyrim's ass 100+ times.