Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review - It got me back into reading books.

By Sam Coles:

If you know personally or on Twitter you will know that I love The Witcher series because of its rich lore and characters. What if I told you that The Witcher 2 got me back into reading books? The reason why I say this is because I studied English Literature for A-level and it put me off reading books for pleasure for a couple of years, but in 2012 I saw the Witcher 2 and it looked cool because at this point had no knowledge of the series. I bought the game on Xbox 360 when it came out and I loved it, the only problem was is that I had no idea what the characters were talking about. I did more research on the series and I found out that the games are based on a set of novels so I bought The Last Wish and The Blood Elves then I went back and replayed The Witcher 2 and I loved it more because I knew what was going on and I had an investment with the characters.

You play as Geralt of Riva who is a Witcher, what his profession specialises in is hunting and killing monsters for the right price of course. This game however with its story has more of a political focus in its world rather than the fairy tale fantasy we have from the first and third game. Not to say it’s bad but you can get lost in the story depending on how much you have read.

The game begins with Geralt in a dungeon because has been framed for the murder of the King of Termeria, he is then questioned by Roach the head of the Termerian special forces. The prologue chapter is a flashback where Geralt discusses what happened on the day of Foltest’s death. It is later revealed that the king was killed by a Witcher, but it was not Geralt but someone who claims to be Geralt’s friend, but the White Wolf is still recovering his memories so he is uncertain about these claims. If you’re not into to politics you probably won’t like this game’s story because there is a lot of fictional political tension and it does go on a bit, but it is very interesting to see how Geralt is sucked into all these situations.

The gameplay has been improved from the first Witcher game, but it does have its flaws and I’ll talk about why. The combat has been changed to a brawler like system sort of reminding me of a faster paced Demon’s Souls, but the problem is that the game has collision detection issues from the player and enemies so; you’ll take damage for unfair reasons. The game also emphasises preparation so you have to drink potions before battle, but what potion you’re supposed to drink is a mystery because you don’t know what you’re going to come up against outside the safe zone.

I know it sounds like I hate this game in the gameplay department, but I still love this game there are aspects of the gameplay I adore. I like the fact you have do research on the monsters you’re hunting to find out their weakness or find ingredients to make positions that will make you immune from their poisons, it feels really organic and you feel like a Witcher on the job when you’re on a monster hunt.
The game splits into two at the end of the first chapter because you’re given to help either Roach the head of the Special Forces or Iorveth the leader for the Elven rebellion to follow. This is great because the game basically has two campaigns because both parts play out radically different and it gives you an incentive to playthrough it for a second time.

Visual presentation is beautiful considering that this game came out on PC originally five years ago, the character models are still have a high amount of detail and the environments are beautiful to look at especially Flotsam forest at the start of the game with the detailed trees and foliage. The lighting in this game is wonderful with the god rays shining through the trees as you tread carefully through the forests to the dim glows of your torch lighting the deep and dark caves.

The Witcher 2 is a good game with a few flaws, but none the less kindled a love that I have developed for the series from this instalment whether it be the novels or the games. If you haven’t played this game pick it up it’s cheap on PC and Xbox 360, and if you own an Xbox One it’s backwards compatible.

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