by Sergio Brinkhuis, reviewed on
It took a while for gamers to warm up to The Witcher. The original announcement fell onto deaf ears and it is not hard to see why. The game is created by an unknown Polish developer -with a track record consisting only of localization of other people's products- and based on a series of books from a writer few people outside of Poland ever heard of (Andrzej Sapkowski). But then the first images were released. From that moment on, image and video material on the game has done nothing less than impress. The quality of the footage sparked the curiosity of gamers all over the world. With the game on the shelves in Europe and due out in the US, it is time to find out if it has the ability to also win their hearts.
You are Geralt, a Witcher, and a legendary one at that. Witchers are specialized beast and monster hunters. You could call them Medieval Pest Controllers, taking care of oversized cockroaches in the form of Cockatrices, Hellhounds, Wyverns and other such creatures from the fantasy bestiary. They are genetically engineered to enhance their fighting ability and are able to perform magic when cold steel is not enough to deal with a particular threat.
You can't remember anything of your past, but losing your memory doesn’t seem to bother you all that much. The people around you know you and you feel at ease in their company. The Witchers have fallen on hard times however. Their phenomenal fighting ability, alchemy skills and magical prowess have not been able to protect them from prosecution. Humans are becoming less and less tolerant of anything non-Human and are targeting Witchers, Elves and Dwarves alike. Now, the handful of Witchers that are still alive, are under attack from a band of religious cultists. They are trying to steal the Witcher's secrets.
A long, somewhat confusing (but nonetheless enthralling) movie introduces you to the game, some of its characters and gives you an idea of Geralt’s background. The cinematics are brilliant and you will soon find out that the quality of the graphics is extended to the actual game. In fact, playing The Witcher is often a very cinematic experience.
Normally we only say this about games that attempt to be an interactive movie but I can assure you that The Witcher isn't one of those. While the events are scripted, the cut scenes themselves are not… quite. They are rendered on the fly by the engine, carrying over NPCs, objects and even the time of day into the actual scene. This has been done many times before but seldom with the same quality and attention to detail that is displayed in The Witcher. Not only do characters look fantastic, their lips move (not entirely in sync, but pretty good) and armor, weapons and the head of the monster you just killed, are all shown within the cut-scene.
No Pros and Cons at this time