Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
I half expected it to be heavily censored when it made the transition from PC to console boxes earlier this year. Thankfully someone at the ESRB finally realized that the 'M' rating for this game actually means "Mature" not "Modest." There's plenty of plenty to keep any hardcore RPG fan happy for at least 50 to 60 hours. Everything from a Hangover-esque side quest to obvious Fight Club inspired mini-games.
And how you want to tackle these events are entirely up to you.
Because once you get past the less-than-easy prologue events, the world literally opens up and becomes your oyster. Every quest you take is unique. Every side quest you tackle is engaging and white knuckle. And the fact that every choice in this game seems to have its own line of consequence, much like in real life, they're something that cannot be magically erased and/or forgotten about later on during gameplay. In fact your decisions can, and sometimes will, come back to haunt you.
All of this gives you this sense of progression. Of change. This feeling that you are quite literally shaping and defining the world around you. And in that doing so sometimes feels like an accomplishment worthy of a game's end boss triumph just makes it all the more sweet.
Because the "getting there" is by no means an easy feat. If you've ever played Demons Souls or Dark Souls, well.....The Witcher 2 is just a notch below that. Expect to see Geralt fall more than once, sometimes just a whisker's hair away from coming out the victor, to the inevitable "use your head and try again" approach to some enemy encounters.
Yes, The Witcher 2 does have rather graphic depictions of sex and nudity. CD Projekt Red left nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) to the imagination. If you have children, keep them away from this title. Otherwise you'll be having "the talk" about where babies come from. Santa Claus. Just in case you're wondering.
Yet oddly, I didn't consider these scenes to be overly gratuitous or shockingly explicit. Frank yes, explicit.....to a point. But nothing that would lead me to march down to my local Gamestop demanding that the video game public boycott said business for selling interactive smut. Trust me, I'm all protested out anyway.
My only personal gripe is that, so far, there's really not much in the way of collection mechanics. Sure you might come across some visual bit of armor piece, but as far as weapon collection goes, it's rather stingy and downright miserly. If you're hoping that every bad guy has a new dagger, a new sword, a new piece of armor you can doll up on your Geralt, well, expect to be disappointed. New arms and armors come in a very short supply line.
Graphics: CD Projekt did a good job with their RED Engine, even though there are the occasional texture pop-in moments rather reminiscent of the texture problems in the (and I hate to keep bringing the series up but...) much like what players experienced in the first Mass Effect title. Towns and environments look exceptionally well done, very organic, and vary from one another in small or significant ways. Various venues can range from decrepit and bleak looking townships that look like the buildings are being held up only by magic and prayer, to the solid and weather worn spires of stone that, though battered by time and war, could last well into the next century.
Audio/Music: Exceptional. The music is a blend of high fantasy, heavy drums, light wind chimes, the thrum of some stringed instrument. Even the occasional use of bagpipes and lutes. The "Howl of the White Wolf" is nearly on par with Skyrim's "Dovahkiin" battle song. And currently my second favorite bit of musical prose behind the aforementioned Elder Scrolls melody.
Controls: Takes some getting used to, due to the fact that the layout of the various functions on the 360 pad takes a bit to memorize and remember (especially when you're trying to do something in the heat of battle), but once you do it becomes a manageable exercise.
Difficulty: This has to be noted since, unlike some RPG's you might have played in the past, this game starts off strong and only gets stronger as you progress. Again, if you've ever played Demons or Dark Souls, you'll get the gist of what I'm trying to impart here. The Witcher 2 is unforgiving, unrelenting, and unapologetic for those of you who think that your character is this god-like being right out of the gate who can wade into a throng of bad guys and expect to walk away from the encounter unscathed. Every encounter, EVERY one, requires you to take stock of your surroundings, yourself and, more importantly, your enemies.
I can almost guarantee you that, if you DO decide to just blindly run into the fray without thought or planning, 10 times out of 10 you're going to end up face down in the dirt with your blood spilling out as the Game Over screen slowly comes up to mock you. Use your Head. Or you'll soon find yourself without one.
4.5 out of 5.
Game Traits applied to The Witcher 2 (X360) by Wastelander-75