11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable achievment, with some glaring painful issues,
This review is from: The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings Enhanced Edition (DVD-ROM)
I loved the Witcher, and looked forward to Witcher 2. I pre ordered last year, and played through the game. I chose Roche the first time, and it was a great game, albeit not particularly balanced in the beginning. It was pretty difficult initially, and after you level up, it becomes a bit easier to deal with, but its never quite straight forward.
The story is EPIC, most likely one of the deepest, nuanced, and complex stories ever told by the Video Game art form. There have been some great story driven games (Bioshock comes to mind), but Witcher and Witcher 2 especially are just remarkable. The choices you make matter, and the game can be replayed over and over again with different results (if you have the patience)
Witcher 1 had a novel swordplay mechanism, where timing and controls had to be very coordinated. It was a bit tough to get used to, but once past it, it became truly clever, easy and addictive. Witcher 2 refines that approach, but also complicates it, by changing some fundamental dynamics in the way swordplay is accomplished. I find it less satisfying than Witcher 1, but still basically good.
Potions are an area where CD Projekt took a painful step backwards. Potions are an integral part of the game, and in Witcher 2, potions MUST be consumed BEFORE a fight, so you sometimes have to go backwards several saves, just in order to take potions. This is by no means the end of the world, but it makes it somewhat annoying, when you stumble into an ambush, and just start dying over and over and over again.
Gameplay is mostly good, however, there is NO fast travel, which means you wander around aimlessly quite often. That, combined with an awkward map system, make it draining to look for quest locations sometimes, as there is simply NO WAY to know where you need to go. Kind of dumb actually, and it didn't need to be that way. It appears that if you read certain books, then some portions of the map activate, although I cannot confirm this, because it seemed to be pretty inconsistent.
NOW FOR THE BAD.
Most video games have their own subtle twist on controls, saves, and combat. However, Witcher 2 does a few things which make it extraordinarly frustrating at times, and caused me to just walk away from it for days at a time.
1) Trapped Boss Battles: I generally hate boss battles, because they waste time, disrupt the story, and are usually just annoying. When there's some super tight secret to beating a boss, it can be more annoying. Witcher 2 bosses are not that difficult in general, but they are some of the most frustrating boss battles in video games. In certain cases, many controls are disabled (dodging, potions, saves, etc), and to add insult to injury, you are TRAPPED, with nowhere to hide, or regain health. So you just have to spend tons of time finding the exact combination of moves, etc. It is horrible in many cases. You can dose up on potions ahead of time, but when the battle comes, the potions are no longer there, and you can't do anything except die, over and over and over and over.
2) Disabled controls when you need them most: There are numerous portions of the game, where important controls are disabled (dodging, saves, etc), which causes you to have to replay those sections a zillion times in order to figure out a new set of control constraints. I just hate this. You invest massive amounts of time trying to master a set of controls to play a game, so you can enjoy it, and every so often, the controls completely change to something completely different. Just terrible
3) Massively confusing character management: Witcher 1 was pretty straight forward. You could just do stuff.... Witcher 2, has tons of things that are totally and needlessly complex. I still haven't figured out how to use mutagens at all. Selecting specific ingredients for potions is massively annoying and confusing. Character building trees and simply bizzare, where you have to make choices you really don't want or need.
4) Disabled Saves and many other features at random times: Sometimes, you'll be wandering around, and the music will start going into battle mode and saves, potions and other features are disabled. But there're no enemies around. And you are locked out from many actions, from meditation, to potion creation, to character development. Makes NO sense.
5) Finally, inconsistent control response. I could probably live with most issues, but this one is just a sin. There are many times where no matter which keyboard or mouse button you push, nothing happens. So you die, and die, and die, over and over and over and over. Just a PITA. I just don't understand what the problem is here.
There are plenty of other warts on this otherwise remarkable piece of entertainment software. The enhanced version is very refined, I had no real bugs or crashes (on a massively overclocked CPU/GPU machine w Windows 7 64bit). Other than painful boss battles (where I sighed after a while when a boss appears), and just bizzare controls, the game is fantastic. For me, I had to take breaks once in a while, as the game was exhausting from the control, map and navigation problems. But all in all, a terrific game