Xbox 360 Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition

Ploughing hell, this game is good!

Despite the fact that I didn’t actually play the original version, I was sceptical when I heard that The Witcher 2 was coming to Xbox. I figured it’d be a watered down port that didn’t come close to that of the PC experience but then I began to play it and all my fears were washed away with pure delight. The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition does exactly what it claims, but is there more to it than meets the eye?

The story begins with Geralt of Rivia, who is framed for the murder of King Foltest and escapes to the island of Flotsam to hunt down the real killer, who has ties to Geralt’s forgotten past. From there, the story becomes intricate with politics, violence, vodka, trolls, whores, witches and even a dragon thrown into the mix. Every character is memorable in their own way from an alcoholic troll to the very seductive Triss Merigold. Geralt himself is a very intriguing character and while we don’t learn all of his past, it’s hinted that we will uncover the full story in the next game, and if you get a chance…read the books that inspired the game, they are rather good.

The Witcher 2 plays like your standard action RPG, but it’s deeper than that. There are a number of side-quests to do, but the combat is incredibly challenging…even on Easy, so be prepared to scream at your TV if/when you decide to try the newly added Dark difficulty mode, which I’m undergoing at the moment and let me tell you, it’s brutal. The good thing is that you can choose your own course of action, you can go in swinging your blade with a few potions and enhancements, you can throw daggers, place traps and cast spells with little trouble.

Spells include using kinetic force, fire, traps, shields and turning your enemies against each other. I personally prefer to stick to fire, roll away till it recharges and keep blasting away…but you need to level up pretty high for it to be truly effective against your foes. The AI can be relentless in their attacks and sometimes it can seem to be unfair as they knock you to the ground and hit you again as you get back up, it doesn’t help that Geralt is pretty weak at the beginning of the game, but it starts to open up once you hit Level 8-9.

Geralt will get to choose many things during the course of the game and it’s hard to tell if it’s good or bad, as there’s no morality meter like that of Mass Effect. One decision at the end of Chapter 1 will entirely alter how the rest of the game goes, and decisions you make will affect the ending in different ways, there are a lot of different endings…so be wary of what you choose. One minute you can be debating wherever to help someone only for them to stab you in the back, the next you’ll be deciding over the fate of others.

Besides the combat and quests, you can also try your hand at fist fights, dice poker, arm wrestling and visit the brothel for some serious ploughing, which is a term that seems to come up more often than you would expect. Let’s say that The Witcher 2 is a very mature game with scenes of gore and those of a sexual nature, and yes it’s very raunchy stuff indeed…that Geralt is one luckysonofa….anyway, let’s just say he has quite a good time besides fighting.

One issue I have has to be with the map. It’s incredibly annoying to use, getting around isn’t as free-roaming as the likes of Skyrim, so it’s easy to get lost heading for the quest objective. Unfortunately you can’t zoom in as much as you’d like, nor can you move it around or see where specific areas are unless you know where you are going, but looking for someone’s house can’t be done conventionally. It’s a shame and I hope they patch it for those struggling to find certain people/areas that the map fails to do so at the moment.

In terms of presentation, Witcher 2 looks pretty damn good. The PC version of course looks superior, but the team at CDProjekt Red have done a great job in pushing the most out of the 360, proving there’s still plenty of life in the old gal yet. There are the odd issues with texture popping during cutscenes and load screens on more doors than in the PC version, but the shadow and lighting effects are superb and the character models look detailed. Voice-acting is brilliant with a mixture of all accents and plenty of hilarious dialogue, including a joke about Lord of the Rings for Tolkien fans. The soundtrack is downright epic; it immerses you in the whole world of The Witcher.

The Verdict

The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition is one great RPG. It engages you from start to finish, it makes you want more and it has lots of replay value with the many alternate endings. The Arena mode is also a nice addition, but most of all, the story is gripping and I cannot wait for The Witcher 3. I must see more of Geralt of Rivia!