The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings First Impressions

I guess I am just in the role playing (RPG) genre mood right now. Having just finished Mass Effect 3 (yes it’s not a true RPG but here’s my review of Mass Effect 3), I recently picked up The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition for the Xbox 360. I have heard so many good things about the PC version and that the Xbox 360 version proudly stands on its own that it was hard for me to resist buying it. I’ve been torn between this or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. But after hearing all the glowing reviews of the Witcher 2 and it being more adult oriented, the decision was easy.

I’ve only played the tutorial and maybe put in a few hours but I can tell you already, that I am impressed.  I am new to the Witcher series and haven’t played a real RPG since Baldur’s Gate II on the PC so I did the tutorial to get a grasp on the controls, features, options and combat system. This is a must for noobs because there’s a lot to learn. A lot.

Inventory management (Click to enlarge)

After working my way through a short tutorial, you end up in a combat scenario where you face multiple opponents in a closed arena – think a mini horde mode. Here you must use all your tools you’ve just learned: sword combat, spell casting, parrying and rolling as you face off multiple types of opponents.  You are expected to die here so don’t worry if you don’t last too long. What it does is gauge how well you do and recommends a difficulty level. I was recommended to play on Normal difficulty which I gladly accepted!

Witcher 2 Skill Abilities

Skill/Abilities Tree (Click to enlarge)

Now on to the story. I won’t get deep into the story but you are a witcher named Geralt. Basically a badass who has lots of skills and powers and you slay monsters. You begin the game in a prison being interrogated by a commander of the special forces regarding the assassination of King Foltest, whom you were supposed to protect but now are being accused of killing. You then look back on the various events that led you to this position (and of course you play these events).

Witcher 2 quick access menu

Quick Access Menu (Click to enlarge)

  • The 3rd person camera angles can be wonky at times
  • Control and movement takes getting used to. The more you push the control stick, the faster your movements are.
  • This is a deep, robust game just like a RPG should be. Lots of places to explore, people to talk to, craft potions, weapons, character skill/ability development, etc.
  • There are countless quests that you can do however it’s a bit more linear and not as “open world” like Fallout or Skyrim. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Game itself is complicated with tons of different options/menus in things like character development, using inventory items and determining how you play the game
  • Fighting and combat can be difficult at times due to the camera and somewhat complicated controls scheme
  • Unlike traditional turn based RPG combat, this is real time and you can’t “pause” the game and go into your character menu/options during fights.  When you attempt to go to your quick access menus to adjust your spells or change your character equipment during combat, the game goes into slow motion meaning you still have to act relatively quickly in your decisions
  • It’s very adult: nudity, course language and violence. Just a head’s up if you wife/gf happen to walk by during one of those scenes.
  • Prepare to die,…often
  • Save your game,… often

The Old Guy in Me Says

A must buy for serious RPG fans. This is the game you’ve been waiting for to hit the console market. One thing though. You must be prepared to dedicate a lot of time into it. Seriously. It’s hard and can be frustrating at times. There’s no point in getting this game if you are a casual, part time gamer or just want a game to jump in and out with whenever you get time to play. However, if you are ready, willing and able… it’s a must buy and I’ve only just started it.