on May 5, 2012
In this day and age, it is quite remarkable that a game developer would rework its game, add new contents, and then offer it to Customers for *free*; but somehow, the rogue Polish developer CDPR (CD Projekt Red) have managed to do just that...twice.
Since I believe that most Customers already know that there is more than one version of TW2 available for PC - namely the EE (enhanced edition) and the OV (original version); and that the additional contents of the EE can be downloaded for free; and since I own both PC versions (and also the Xbox360 version), I think it'd be helpful to offer a brief comparative review of the package contents and features to start (of course, any adjective included is merely my opinion):
ENHANCED EDITION (published by WB)
- True to CDPR's pledge to fans and Customers, the EE is 100 percent DRM free right out of the box. There is no internet connection requirement whatsoever, no key codes, not even a disc check. Thank you to CDPR and WB for respecting their Customers.
- All EE contents included
- 2 game DVDs and 1 soundtrack CD are all in the same case
- The game guide includes walkthrough for the EE contents
- Better cover art
- Standard DVD type slip-on cover.
ORIGINAL VERSION (published by Atari, or Namco Bandai for the Euro version)
- Comes with limited online activation DRM scheme. However, please note that the DRM can easily be removed by patching or upgrading to the EE altogether (to deployed Military Members, please be aware that either way, a solid internet connection is required)
- EE contents not included. Please note that this is not a patch or a DLC; rather, the entire game - reworked with the EE contents - needs to be downloaded (free of charge), which is about 15GB.
- The game DVDs (2 ea.) are in one DVD case
- 1 bonus materials DVD and 1 sound track CD are in another DVD case (separately from the game DVDs)
- The game guide has better binding, but walkthrough for EE contents is not included.
- The map is slightly longer in length by about 2.5 inches and contains 1 additional illustration on each side.
- The origami-like paper craft and the story-related "A Hog Named Henselt" pamphlet are included (not available in the EE version)
- Thicker bookcase-type cover.
- As the description for the OV indicated, there is also a Temerian coin included. However, since I moved a couple months ago and can't find mine right now, I can't confirm this.
As for the additional EE contents in specific, here are the improvements that I noticed:
- Additional cutscenes for the intro, in between-chapters, and post-credit to improve narration.
- Better sounds overall. Eg. Geralt's voice volume is now higher (he seemed to be whispering in the OV), and additional sound-offs like "Oorah" or "Hooah" can now be heard throughout the military encampments, exercises, and operations (just like the source novels, TW2 is full of anachronism - 'this I like.')
- The additional side quests in Act 3 for both Roche's and Iorveth's paths.
- The side quest "Little Sisters" in Roche's path is now much easier to follow.
- For those who dislike QTEs (quick time events - I call it sequential button mashing) now there is an option to toggle it off in boss fights.
- You now can actually see the full impact of the major decisions made in regards to Temeria, Kaedwen, Vergern, and the sorcerers/sorceresses as shown in the end of Act 3 in Loc Muine (in the OV, you only heard about what happened)- and also in the epilogue as narrated by Dandelion.
- Just for those who must know, there is now one additional possible sexual encounter in Iorveth's path. New total: 3 possible encounters for Iorveth's path vs. 1 possible encounter for Roche's path.
Note: For those who already played the OV and now just want to play the additional EE side quests, after downloading and merging the EE pack, load up a game save at the end of Act 2, and the side quests will be available and properly loaded in Act 3.
To the game itself, if you are not aware of it by now, first and foremost, TW2 is a game designed from the ground up specifically for the mature Gamers. Indeed, please keep the children away and out of both visual and audible range - because there are scenes and references of profanity, nudity, sexual intercourse, rape, torture, mutilation, and violent death here - even more than in TW1.
As an action RPG, TW2 is very good. Similar to TW1, leveling up is well timed; that is, as you progress through the story, you are leveling up at the right time and the right place. Thus, there is never a need to grind to level up (unless perhaps you are playing on "dark mode" difficulty, which is extremely challenging combat-wise).
In terms of combat, unlike TW1, TW2 is now a full-out action game that requires precise timing and hand-eye coordination. As is, it is definitely not easy to grasp for the novice or casual Gamers. However, if you keep in mind that there are always more than one way to overcome the challenge in combat, and you are willing to experiment, then it will be very rewarding when you discover your own way to success and domination.
For me, the highlight of TW2 is the story elements that make it stands head and shoulder above the rests. In addition to the aforementioned unflinchingly mature themes, TW2 is one of those extremely rare games that offer true branching story paths. To be more precise, depending on the choice you made at the end of Act 1, almost all of Act 2 will play out differently with a different story and in a different location. In addition, about 1/3 of Act 3 will also be different. Needless to say, the replay value is way off the chart here. And in order to see and to appreciate the scope of the whole story, you will want to play both paths.
Last but not least, the complex and layered story of TW2 is firmly set in a world saturated with different shades of gray. Thus, the decisions to be made - which, in conjunction with your own logic and morality and along with the half-lie and half-truth that you gathered - is neither right nor wrong ... There are only consequences. And regardless of where you stand on the notion of 'the end justifies the means', tread carefully, because you may need to do just that.
In general, in spite of which version of TW2 one chooses to go with - whether the OV or the EE, it is still an excellent game. In particular, TW2EE earned 4.5 stars in my book - to which I rounded up in appreciation of CD Projekt Red. Thank You for reading.