The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings comes courtesy of Namco, and Polish developers CD Projekt, and is sneaking into the RPG fray via the back door
The Witcher was a cult hit back in 2007, a hugely underrated RPG with its fair share of dodgy dialogue and equally dodgy adult scenes. Nonetheless, it played very nicely and went under the radar whilst The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion distracted all but the most dedicated of RPG gamers.
It looks as though The Witcher 2 may well find itself in the same position. Bethesda has no intention of stopping the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim bandwagon and other hits like Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 have captivated significant portions of the gaming community.
CD Projekt has stepped up to the competition and delivered an RPG experience that is sufficiently different, yet in many ways equal to the quality of Skyrim.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Features
This RPG is all about the single player campaign, and things immediately start off in promising fashion with an excellent tutorial. We firmly believe that there’s nothing more frustrating in a game, particularly in an RPG, than being thrown in without any sort of help. The Witcher 2 doesn’t make this mistake and as a result you don’t feel out of your depth at any point.
What you’ll notice immediately after the tutorial is that the graphics are fantastic. This game is a console update to the PC version of the game; released last year and questions were asked about how much better this game could look on Xbox 360. Those questions have been answer emphatically: The Witcher 2 looks stunning.
Atmosphere is key to an RPG world, and CD Projekt has created managed to pull all the factors together to create a genuine sense of atmosphere. Some scenes are incredibly beautiful but the soundtrack, the visceral combat and the graphical style always come together to create a gritty world that always has you feeling a little threatened.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Characters
The main protagonist is Geralt of Rivia, a witcher who controls supernatural power and uses it mainly as a bodyguard. Post-tutorial, you find yourself captured, and accused of murdering the king you were sworn to protect.
Obviously, Geralt escapes with your help and embarks on an eventful journey with more plot twists than the entirety of Lost and Prison Break combined (we counted).
Along the way Geralt encounters a wide spectrum of characters, most of whom range from entirely despicable criminals to slightly less despicable criminals.
Video games seem determined to challenge your morality these days, and though Mass Effect is arguably the only series that has done so effectively, we could be ready to add The Witcher 2 to that list. Many of your decisions will be enacted with brutal efficiency and sometimes, you’re given situations where there is no way to win.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Gameplay
The Witcher 2 isn’t particularly combat heavy, but as you’d expect for a bodyguard with supernatural powers, you’re required to do your fair share of fighting.
Combat takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of attacking, parrying and countering (called a ‘riposte’ in the game) then you’re all set. You’re given a quick menu to select your magical powers and other combat items such as traps, potions and bombs and the whole thing feels very fluid and manageable.
If we had one criticism, it would be that as Geralt levels up and gains access to more powerful combat options, the game starts to become much easier than it is at the beginning. For example, upgrading your parry to a point where you automatically guard a hit from any angle makes the combat rather easy, and very similar to that of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
The advantage with this game being based on the earlier PC version is that it means the Xbox 360 edition includes all the patches from the previous game. This doesn’t mean the game is bug-free but we’re talking mere cockroaches, annoyances at best compared to Skyrim’s ‘Starship Troopers’ bugs.
To carry on the Skyrim comparison, The Witcher 2 is perhaps a little more linear, and more story-driven. But that said, it’s still very open ended and there’s nothing forcing you to move forward in the story most of the time.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Verdict
This game is not a classic, but it is still fantastic fun and what CD Projekt and Namco have achieved is to be applauded. More than any other genre, bringing a fresh perspective to an RPG is a tough task and The Witcher 2 manages to do that.
In doing so, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has made itself a worthy addition to a very strong stable of RPGs on Xbox 360. It is a tad unfair to compare it directly to games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Though it does take influences from other classic RPGs, The Witcher 2 is excellent in it's own right, and a worthy alternative to the other fantastic RPGs out there.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings availability: Available now
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings price: £39.99