The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings review
Davneet Minhas

Review

An adult game

Don’t Make Me Steal (cntd)


First, there’s no storage. You have to carry everything you find until you either sell or craft it. And I was always reluctant to sell materials – what if I found a great new diagram but didn’t have the parts? So, I carried around every ore and cloth and monster part I found, and my capacity was maxed out for the majority of the game. When I found a material I had to have, I ended up throwing out something else to make room. Naturally, on more than one occasion, I later found a diagram requiring that same material I had just discarded, which made me bang my head against the keyboard. Extra storage would have provided some relief. (There is a mod floating around the internet that makes all items weightless, solving this problem. But it feels like a cheat.)

Second, Geralt can walk into people’s homes and take their stuff. He can waltz right through the unlocked front door, rummage through desk drawers and bedside tables, and pocket whatever he finds. All the while, the occupant shows no reaction. This, I feel, is dated and ridiculous design. Bethesda’s games differentiate between finding and stealing – why not The Witcher 2? Obviously I could just not steal things, which would actually solve both of the above problems, but there’s free gold in that old woman’s dresser. Free! How can I not take it? Some deterrent would have been nice and more believable.

Unfortunately, I encountered actual bugs too. One on occasion, later in the game, the map marker for a quest was completely wrong. Luckily I already knew where I had to go, since I had previously found the place. If I hadn’t, I would’ve been in trouble. I also found a diagram for a new, powerful steel sword that had some disappointing results. I collected all the necessary materials, had a blacksmith mash them together, and instead of receiving the expected item, found a low-level sword in my backpack. Thinking I had made a mistake, I reloaded the game and tried again. And again. Each time, the low-level sword came out instead of what the great sword the diagram described. I ended up loading a save point prior to when I had wasted coin on the faulty diagram, and moved on. It was inconsequential, but still disappointing.

Naturally Beautiful


What isn’t disappointing is The Witcher 2’s graphics. It is a beautiful game, at least on high settings. (My Nvidia GeForce 470, quad-core i5 processor, and 4 gigs of RAM couldn’t handle ultra.) Actually, beautiful may not be the right word for such a dark, gritty, even depressing palette. But the environments are meticulously detailed and rich in texture. Forest floors feel dirty – they’re layered with foliage, twigs, individual blades of grass. Stonewalls in sewers feel slick and slimy, whereas aboveground walls look rougher but are more kempt. It’s all very natural, as are the character designs.

Some characters match the dark and depressing environments with hanging bellies, sagging cheeks, and baldness. Others are muscle-bound meatheads. Royalty look and move regally, with purpose, confidence, and entitlement. The not-so-well-off also look their part, emaciated and downtrodden. But characters can be repetitive. More than once you will spot the same belly or the same set of massive arms on different characters. Oh, and the lighting, magnificent. There’s such a strong contrast between light and dark, sunshine and no sunshine. Dense foliage will block out light during the day, providing a gloomy atmosphere. But as soon as you walk into a clearing, the sun saturates, heats, reflects off of everything around you. It’s blinding and glorious.

This is Important


The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is an important game. It doesn’t treat you like a child or insult your intelligence. It doesn’t feel the need to expand its audience. It doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator. Instead, it expects more of you. It expects you to follow an intricate plot and understand complex characters, to make difficult decisions based off of nothing but your own moral code, to think and strategize before and during combat (at least for a time). Because of all that, it’s immensely captivating and satisfying.

Yes, it could use a minor patch or two. But this game is worth talking about. It should be talked about. This is the sort of game that gamers should point to and declare to all developers, PC and console alike, “See how this game treated me as an adult, with respect? Make yours do that too.”

9.4

fun score

Pros

Complex narrative, thoughtful combat, mature content done maturely.

Cons

Minor bugs and not enough storage.