Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Witcher 2, all I can say is thanks

This page is slowly starting to look like a Witcher fansite.  Rest assured, it isn't, but it may get awfully damn close if I keep playing CDProjekts latest RPG based off Andrzej Sapkowski's Polish book series of the same name.  The game has multiple paths for two distinct story lines, each packed with specific quests only available on that path, as well each sides own cast of characters.  I have only played through one of the paths, but have already started a second run intended for the other.  This is exciting replayability right here.  Here is a branching RPG storyline where you can chose which side of the field to play interacting with as friend with a knight that would have been a natural enemy had you gone the other route.

I don't want to hand out spoilers for this game so I will literally skip the storyline in this discussion other than to refer to it's quality of pacing, duration, that sort of typical beef.  I want to mention that by looking at some of the glorious screenshots this game produces, you would deduce that TW2 would take your budget rig like mine, and kick it straight in the balls.  Not so.  Here is my system in a nutshell:

Windows 7 - 64 bit Dell Studio XPS 8000
Intel i5 750 running 2.67GHz, 2660 MHz 4 cores
6gb RAM, and I don't even know what kind, nothing, it's just what came with this system.
Nvidia GTX 460 overclocked 850/2100 running latest beta drivers as of 6/1

Some gamers however, with much higher spec machines than mine, have experienced an utterly garbage piece of software.  Gaming rigs that cost more than cars I own are somehow bogging down big time in the frame rate department, and this is pretty much the biggest issue with the title to date.  I am hoping they can get this ironed out so more paying customers can experience what I am now calling my #1 contender for Game of the Year 2011.  I know it's not even half over yet, but I just don't see having this memorable of an experience plop into my lap before sometime next year, if not beyond!  Like I read on a forum earlier today, and it expressed my sentiments toward the game exactly.  It's the first title in a long while that I wanted to finish!  I mean really craved to get to the end to see how things played out.  And then, I started another run because of the whole other quest line that had my head buzzing with anticipation.

I have made it this far into my impressions of TW2 and have yet to go into detail about the visuals.  I don't know a lot of fancy graphical terminology, but I can tell you that this game is just plain gorgeous.  I have to admit when this game first made a blip on my radar it was purely because of some screen shots that I had seen on Steam.  No kidding, as I looked over the detailed forest, the leaves on the ground, and the sun's rays beaming through the tree tops, my mind was blown.  Then I played it!  Toss in a take on motion blur in the third person perspective that is spot on, and frankly the only time I have ever left motion blur on in any game before, and the colors and art direction all culminate into one amazing visual masterpiece that in my case, ran like a dream.  Butter smooth all the way through the entire game, even at times with many (and I mean many) enemies on the screen swingin' swords and firing flaming arrows.

So the game runs beautifully, 1920 x 1080, graphics pretty well cranked (minus the evil "Ubersampling" system killer) and with that I really haven't experienced any technical issues other than after the latest patch, the RS on the 360 controller no longer scrolls text in the games journal, etc. This has to be done via the mouse wheel which to me, not a big deal.  Another persistent topic on the web concerns the save file system which is redundant as a motherfucker in that it never overwrites auto saves for one thing.  And another thing, it doesn't give you the option to overwrite your saves.  The game constantly generates a save file each time a save is performed dumping two files every time into the save game folder.  After fifteen hours of play or so I discovered almost 2Gb of save data that was useless, unless I wanted to sort through it all to find the ones I could use to try different quest lines and such.  I have read there are modders that have produced a save file organizer of some sort which must be a godsend!

These guys even got the voice acting nailed down pretty darn well, and that was another substantial surprise to me.  I have no previous "witcher" experience, so this was all new going in, and after a few minutes of dialogue from several characters and I was convinced this was indeed an all around, well built game made for the PC.  The lead character, Geralt of Rivia, is voiced in such a calm and certain manner with a pitch perfect tone that it just bleeds bad assedry!  There isn't an out of place piece of talent to be heard from any of the main characters, and the secondary cast is equally as well spoken.

Aside from a good story, great graphics, talented voice acting, as well as a decent musical score, there is also some other activities to keep Geralt busy during his travels.  Side quests are abundant throughout the land, and help build the XP needed to level up.  This is where you will gain most of your rank, as grinding for XP just isn't really viable in this game.  You have several mini games to choose from such as an dice-poker, arm wrestling, and even some sparring.  And then there is an alchemy and crafting side to the game, which to me seems like your standard collect the right shit, and make yourself a potion or have a smithy make you a sword, typical shit like that.  I didn't feel that it played as big of a role in the game as it could have, to me it seemed like the stuff you needed to put together the most used items was in abundance all over the place, so there wasn't any hunt for the right ingredients.

That's my take on the game as a whole.  I didn't mention everything the game has to offer, some things just are better to be discovered by oneself.  Of course there's combat and magic, and it is pretty straight forward.  Nothing that can't be figured out with practice and some journal reference if needed. 

I took a risk, and went out on a limb based soley on a pretty picture.  I got lucky, because the package as a whole was equally as well put together.  I was once, many years ago, into fantasy and dragons and shit, but the modern warfare military FPS era grabbed me and didn't let go.  I am sort of hoping, like I may have mentioned in another post, that this game opens my eyes to other potential titles that strive for similar attention to detail within the fantasy RPG realm.  This was what Final Fantasy XIII was supposed to do for me.  I have yet to finish that sum bitch, with a play through started on both the 360 and the PS3...

Buy it now.


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