Has this PC Powerhouse role-playing game had a smooth ride over to the xbox 360, or did it get lost along the way?
Originating on the PC almost a year ago, third person role-playing game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has now landed on the XBox 360. Developed by Polish studio CDProjekt RED, the game follows Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher. Witchers are genetically enhanced humans who are vigorously trained to fight monsters. Witchers can be a master of swordsmanship, magic and alchemy, and you can choose which of these Geralt prefers through levelling up and unlocking skills. The game is based on the book series of the same name penned by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The rich lore woven by Andrzej is reflected in the game which presents us with a deep immersive world. Although this is a port of a PC game released a good year ago it is worth noting that this is no straight port, CDProjekt have been hard at work creating new content from impressive pre-rendered cut scenes to extra quests. The Witcher series is known for being a very mature game and this is shown by the games 18 rating.
The game starts with Geralt accompanying King Foltest during an impressive siege of a castle, as the name of the game may suggest the king is assassinated during the siege and it is believed that Geralt is to blame. After quickly finding yourself imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit you escape and set off into the world to clear your name. What you find outside of your cell is a greatly detailed and realised world, even when visiting towns for a bit of downtime and trading, ever does the game show off for its attention to detail, the land feels as if it is a real place that is really alive, the pubs are crowded and loud, traders are out pushing their wares and the whores are out for coin. The towns you visit are no bastions of light and good, of high Elves and peace; they are dirty, down trodden places where people do what they can to get by. Strong writing and rich voice acting bind these lands together, culture is everywhere. You’ll be interacting with Kings and Wizards one moment, peasants the next and then before you know it you’ll be duelling with nobles, all of which have a social standing be it high or low. The social casting will catch you out at times, after spending a few hours working for a nobleman to then be trading words with a commoner. The contrast of how they speak and feel about the world will pull you down deeper into the world, immersing you ever more into its rich lore and the games strong, well-considered presentation.
Combat is a tough and precise affair. Geralt carries two swords, one steel and one silver, ensuring the use of the correct sword against the correct enemy is a must for any budding swordsman. Join that with a large inventory of mines, traps and throwing knifes and you have a very deadly arsenal at your fingertips. Combining the aforementioned weaponry with Geralts impressive magical skills, and then mixing in the use of alchemy to create anything from healing poitions to potions that help you see in the dark and you have a slight idea of what to expect when you fight your first enemy in the game. Playing on anything other than easy mode, combat is something to take seriously and every enemy is to be treated with respect and even when blocking Geralt will still have his health chipped away. The mainstay of damage avoidance is through dodging and if the time is right, reposting. Combat can be as a complex or as simple of an affair as you want it to be. Focusing Geralt on swordsman ship you can focus more so on flaying wildly at your opponents, although depending on the difficulty setting you are playing at this can only be slightly effective. Focusing on a mixture of magic, swordsmanship and alchemy you can mold combat into a deadly balancing act with highly rewarding outcomes; this complexity can be seen as a result of the game being born on the PC. Luckily the controls on the 360 pad, for the most part, replace the keyboard well. You will find that maybe the A button does too many jobs, or maybe that getting through the menus can take a few more button presses than you’d normally expect, but on the whole the game is responsive and handles better than some of its console exclusive cousins.
The original PC release presented gamers with a gorgeous game, but as ever those looks came at a price, pushing even the strongest of PC hardware to its limit. It is with that in mind that I happily announce the game looks great on the XBox360. You may find the odd texture pop in, and maybe once the game may crash but all is forgiven when you see the finely presented world. Light from the moon breaks through tree branches at night, firelight dimly glows those faces around it who are seeking warmth and textures are strong. This is easily one of the best looking games on the 360 right now, and will hold up even when we enter the next generation.
The weight of detail going into the games mythology combines nicely with the heavily grounded third person role-playing game mechanics. The mature theme, gameplay and compelling plot pull us through a story that creates a legend that you would be a fool to miss out on.