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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review

Richard Naik's picture

Crowned Heads Will Roll

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot

HIGH: The death of an NPC I'd wanted to kill since the moment I met him.

LOW: The boss checkpoint that didn't give me a chance to use any potions when I died and respawned.

WTF: The absolute orgy of exposition at the end of the game.

Imagine being invited to a party and upon arrival, you're told to serve drinks and make sure the burgers aren't overcooked. Then, adding insult to injury, you're asked to clean the bathroom before being allowed to mingle and have some fun.  In such a situation, one could hardly be blamed for just going home, right? That theoretical party is kind of what The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is like—a confusing, rough start and an incredibly brutal introduction to combat, followed by flashes of brilliance that come only after much tribulation. Unfortunately, those flashes never quite add up to a sustained shine.

Let's start at the beginning. Compared to most other role-playing games (RPGs), Witcher 2 is not user friendly. In fact, it does an absolute piss-poor job of explaining itself, leading to a lot of the frustration in the game's opening scenes.

There are in-game tutorials, but they have a knack for popping up at times when I have more important things to deal with, like being incinerated by a dragon. During these times, I could picture the game staring at me with a disapproving gaze as I died again and again....and again and again and again and again.

Even after I had gotten the hang of things and had become able to deal with most challenges, I was still constantly faced with bafflingly bad design elements like the complete lack of camera zoom capability, or an incredibly frustrating (read: easy to get lost in) series of caves. It became clear that the game was not here to impress me, I was here to impress it.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot

Beyond the muddled, unclear opening, another major problem presents itself in the combat system. The complex system from the original Witcher has been replaced by a simpler hack n' slash setup that appears to be geared towards the recently-announced console release. This actually represents progress over the old system, but combat is still woefully undercut by flaws serious enough to cause me to turn the difficulty down—something I don't normally do.

Fighting in Witcher 2 is centered around battle preparation in the form of potions. Witchers—magically-enhanced monster hunters—are capable fighters to begin with, but they need a little extra edge in battle. With his alchemy skills, main character Geralt can fashion potions, bombs, mutagens, and other enhancements give him that edge. Problem is, alchemy can only be done outside of battle. If I ran into an unexpected fight, I was just out of luck. While a "try and die" situation isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, every single time I found myself in need of a potion I had to wonder why I couldn't just chug it right then and there. This was especially bad during one particular boss fight, and very few things get under my skin more than a bad boss.

Then there's the actual combat, which is even more problematic than the potion-chugging prep work. Even with the simplified controls, Geralt's actions are extremely sluggish, and there's often a slight delay between when I press a button and when he actually does something. Such a delay can be a massive headache when being attacked from behind does 200% damage, or when I need to throw a bomb to stop an incoming group of Rotfiends.

Worse still, the game has a nasty habit of spiking the difficulty, especially when facing multiple enemies. When up against a large group, there will inevitably be a ton of running around in circles using ranged attacks and bombs (a practice commonly known as kiting), which gets old very fast. I am generally a fan of games that challenge me as opposed to holding my hand, but Witcher 2 was one of the few games where I simply got too aggravated to continue on the Normal setting.

A correctly-made "hard game" has to have mechanics that are smooth and easy to use, so that it can present a challenge to the player by asking him to master those mechanics. For example, I am an unabashed Mega Man fan, and when I die or mess something up playing one, it is because I failed, not because the game failed me. My experience playing Witcher 2 was the exact opposite.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot

I can't count the number of times I died because the camera was shaking so badly I couldn't see where I was going, or that I pressed the block button only to have Geralt stand there looking confused, or that the auto-targeting decided that I wanted to roll into a horde of lethal Nekkers instead of away from them. Despite some major efforts to make things more palatable, Witcher 2 still suffers from a severe case of Deadly Premonition syndrome, in that playtesting and balance was apparently a huge afterthought. Some may say that Witcher 2 is just a hard game and I need to adapt, but that isn't the case. It's just hard to play.

Of course, there is the matter of those flashes of brilliance I mentioned earlier.

The calling card of the Witcher 2 is the unique way in which it handles player choice. In stark contrast to the usually-transparent Boy Scout/Evil Psychopath choices of its contemporaries, the developers present a giant moral gray area with no NPC approvals or karma meters. Geralt has to navigate a complex landscape rife with intrigue, and there is always more than one facet to any given situation. More often than not, there is no "right" or "wrong" choice -- or if there is, it's deftly hidden in a way that requires the player to pay attention and closely analyze the situation. Rather than simply earning new swords or other shining doodads, the consequences of the player's choices are the results within the game world; results which are woven with superb detail into the overall narrative.

However, that narrative just isn't very good.

The story of the Witcher 2 is a sleepy, tired, Tolkien-esque fantasy slog with some softcore porn thrown in. I had a hard time keeping an interest in the game's world (yes, including the porny bits), and it didn't help that the writers assumed a lot of familiarity on my part regarding its details. Based on a popular series of fantasy novels, Witcher 2 presents a lot of people and places that a player won't necessarily be familiar with, and then doesn't do much to introduce them or provide illuminating context. I'm certainly the kind of player that loves digging into a game's lore, but even that didn't help much since the available lore doesn't shed much light on anything. It still feels like there's a lot of stuff that I'm just "supposed" to know. The massive gaps in exposition sapped most of the Witcher's potential dramatic weight, leaving me scratching my head far too often.

I really wanted this game to be better than it actually was. It has the kind of vision that should make it great, but it has far too many problems to overlook. The most frustrating thing is that I could forgive all of those flaws if the game had an engrossing story or rich world to show me, but it fails in that regard as well. The sophisticated ideas here are wasted on such a sloppy product. While it does indeed take a few steps in the right direction, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings doesn't live up to its own ambition. Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via Steam purchase and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 32 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 time) and there are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, and use of drugs. Absolutely no punches are pulled here folks. It's bloody, cursing is abundant, and there are several scenes of full-frontal nudity. Adults only.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: All spoken lines in conversations are subtitled, although you will probably have problems with the ambient dialogue, since sometimes the subtitles for them don't show. Also, the beginning/ending of combat is signaled by music changes, so that may be problematic as well.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PC  
Developer(s): CD Projekt Red  
Publisher: Atari  
Series: The Witcher  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Aha, finally the review has

Aha, finally the review has arrived. Looking at the score it's perhaps best it took so long, or else the comments would be flooded by defensive fans scouting for low scores on Metacritic. I feel sorry for them in a way - my theory is that they are so defensive because there are so few PC-centric RPG developers out there that they feel compelled to cling onto CD Projeckt.

The sad truth is, though, that CD Projeckt still aren't a fitting replacement for Bethesda and BioWare of old, and with Witcher 2 designed with consoles in mind (which it really is; it's pretty obvious from some of the design) it's probably time to start looking elsewhere.

In any case, I don't fully agree with your highlighted flaws Richard. For me, the combat -- initially -- was superb and had many similarities to Demon's Souls. I began the game on Hard, and felt like I was being challenged to a fair and enjoyable degree. However, it did eventually end up as a hack 'n' slash after the opening chapter, and in that way it felt undercooked, rather than unresponsive/broke/whatever. It went from being tactical and challenging, to straight-up button mashing, which is a shame.

I agree with you about that boss fight though; I had alchemy spec, so not being able to use potions pretty much made me useless in that fight. As did the lack of checkpoint making me play that God-awful pre-boss section over and over. I had to wait for the patch before I started playing again. Pretty bad.

Agree about the story too, kinda. I also felt that a lot of the stuff the characters were talking went right over my head, and I felt like I was missing out by not knowing all the lore. I still felt the presentation of it was good though, and I especially enjoyed those animated cut-scenes that would play when Geralt remembered something from his past.

Anyway, a 5.5 is perhaps a little too harsh -- I was expecting a 6 -- but I don't feel there's been massive injustice in your words so I'm not gonna try and defend the game. Just for clarification, I would have given it a 7 (only just, mind).

Excellent review

Though people's attention will be drawn to the score, I think this is a fair review. I agree with pretty much all the flaws pointed out, and with the combat and exposition failures in particular. I'm a bit nonplussed at the adulation shown this game in other quarters, and I think Crofto probably has it right in that because it's seen as a standardbearer for PC games, its flaws are overlooked.

It started off so well - good combat (if you could ignore the key-recognition issues) and an adult and uncompromising story. But the combat devolved into being chased around, Benny Hill style, by mobs of enemies, and the story really should have been made more accessible to the people who haven't actually read the books. My admiration turned into frustration fairly quickly.

I guess the combat could have been shown in a better light if there were fewer (say two) and tougher enemies in each fight. I think the combat system gave you the tools to cope with that.

The story lost its way because the developers weren't willing or able to make it less opaque. If it's the former, then it shows contempt for the player. If the latter, then just bad writing.

What ?

BEST GAME OF THIS YEAR SO FAR .. I'm not a fanboy, but this game is one of the best in the recent times of gaming, and you give this game an average rating.. i just can believe how many people have problems with the difficulty of this game..i mean, i have watched some videos on youtube, and i must say, sometimes i was just laughing.. i have died in the first 4 hours like 4 times on Normal difficulty, which i mean is just perfect balance..

And this game proves that the games industry has much to offer even to adult gamers..and i mean realy MATURE content for ADULT gamer's that this game has.. soft porn? :D i don't know why you have problems with nudity in the USA..this is a MATURE game with MATURE content and adults - shock! - tend to have sex. even in fantasy worlds.. or do you like more the children friendly clothes-sex that was in Dragon Age? that you see a woman breast (such a scandal!) it immediately mean it's porn?

Man, we in Europe are taking it easy.. and of course everyone has the right to have his own opinion, but well.. this game is for many gamer's so far the best game of this year and everyone must see the passion and love that has gone to make this game what it is.. the beatiful graphics, gorgeous locations, satisfying combat, deep, mature story, fascinating characters, the sidequests are not like in other RPG's - like go there, kill 50 monsters, give there heads back.. no, in this game the sidequests are as just deep as is the main story, with many choices that have verry big consequences..

Well ok, I respect this review but i have just post my own view on this almost perfect RPG game.. for me this is about 9,3/10
P.S. and don't forget the effort put in the patches from CD Projekt RED..and that they removed the nasty DRM very quickly.

...sleepy, tired, Tolkien-esque fantasy slog?

I agree with some of your criticisms - inadequate tutorials, unresponsive controls, problematic auto-targetting. Before I comment on other subjects, let me say I'm puzzled by your comment about "an incredibly frustrating (read: easy to get lost in) series of caves". First of all, cave crawling is a small part of the game, but most importantly, do you realize that there's a full-screen map in the game?

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About the combat:

I don't agree with the description of the combat as "hack and slash". And I don't really understand why you are surprised when "battle preparations" "can only be done outside battle". Given the amount of alchemy ingredients you can gather and the zero-weight of ingredients, you can basically keep potions going on indefinitely. For someone who claims to enjoy "challenge", again I am puzzled that you find fighting large groups of enemies to be "nasty" and indicative of bad design. Just because you can't fight them straight-on and end up dying, it's because the "game failed you" - there are many ways to deal with mobs than kiting and throwing bombs, esp. late in the game.

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About the story:

Indeed, one of the game's main strength is that it doesn't enforce the black and white stereotype. You can choose one way or another without feeling like a complete jerk. The right and wrong is not very clearly delineated.

As to your criticism on the narrative, what exactly do you mean by "a sleepy, tired, Tolkien-esque fantasy slog"? You didn't seem to explain yourself in the following paragraphs. Assumption of familiarity with details seem to be prevalent only in the Prologue. You have to keep in mind that Geralt is amnesiac, so he is prone to getting flashbacks which doesn't make sense to the players - this is an intended plot device. Plus, one of the strengths in this game, in my opinion, is that Geralt isn't omniscient - there're many things going on in the background that the player/Geralt isn't aware of.

Yes, a majority of the characters / locations have associations with Geralt in the novels. Familiarity with those stories will undoubted enrich your experience. But to claim that an amnesiac doesn't remember his past acquaintance and experience hence not explaining in glorious details what happened in the fast (other than fragments of memories or flashbacks) is a "massive gap in exposition" is an overstatement to say the least. TW2 is a game where you can't do everything or know everything, there is always something lurking or tugging in the dark. To say that the "narrative just isn't very good." because you don't get the complete picture and not everything is explained to you is also a stretch. Heck, many people think that's even one of the strengths of the game.

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Something missing?

You didn't mention anything about the visuals, the sounds, the dialogues, character development (skill development). Graphics, while not be-all end-all of games, is lovely in this game, and the world is lovingly crafted with all the small details. The gently swaying plants, the tall trees, the imposing structures, the bantering of the NPCs all contributed towards an organic and immersive atmosphere. Yet did you mention any of this in your review?

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Having said all this, I would consider that your review don't do justice to the game at all. Instead of writing a fair and comprehensive review about the pros and cons, your article resembles more of an elaborate list of your misgivings about the game. Even then, some of those issues you mentioned are largely unjustified.

The caves I'm referring to

The caves I'm referring to are the ones under Vergen. There is a map, but it was of no help. It took me forever to realize that there was a second entrance that let you access areas you couldn't from the first one (so the map was driving me nuts), so I got lost in there for like 30 minutes. And they don't seem to be convoluted for any gameplay reason. There's not really any great loot to be found (and believe me, I spent a LOT of time exploring) and most of the paths have little to nothing of interest. Perhaps it's different if I followed Iorveth's path instead of Roche, but as is it was really puzzling why they were like that.

I'm not asking to be able to charge in and take everything on head-on, but every single time I fought multiple enemies I wound up having to play ring around the rosie with them with the bombs/signs/etc. That is poor design. There are some of the abilities that specifically deal with mutlti-opponent fights, but I can't really get them until, as you said, much later in the game.

You might be able to keep some potions going on indefinitely, but if that's the case, then what's the point of having to meditate to brew/drink them in the first place? It feels like they're trying to have more of a strategy element to it in the form of battle preparation, but it winds up just being an inconvenience since there's no way (usually) for me to foresee when battles are going to start. Why not just let me drink them whenever? Or have a set preparation period for the bigger fights?

For me the story was just so dull I couldn't get into it. The intrigue and events happening around me weren't all that interesting, so combining that with the Tolkien-inspired setting (which granted has inspired pretty much all of of western fantasy) and it was just kind of a bore. I'm not saying that Geralt needs to know literally everything (although he seems to know quite a bit for an amnesiac) but the vagueness felt like less of an character plot point and more of an indication of bad/lazy writing. Keeping the player in the dark about things is a delicate thing to do (Half-Life 2 and Portal come to mind) but here it feels like a burden more than a mystery to explore.

Also, I don't think the amnesiac angle is played up all that well. For having lost all of his memory, Geralt seems to know quite a bit about the world. This was the case in the first game as well, which is supposedly set right after Geralt is found (I think). Just feels off to me.

As for the graphics/sounds/etc., I didn't mention them because frankly I didn't think they were important. The game certainly looks and sounds fine, but I wasn't blown away by it either. We try to avoid laundry listing features like that in reviews, so unless I've got a somewhat strong feeling about a particular aspect, it gets left out.

Also, I appreciate that I finally got a dissenting opinion that I can actually publish :D

@Pedro I'm kicking myself

@Pedro

I'm kicking myself for not thinking of the Benny Hill reference. +1 good sir.

Impressive tech

Richard Naik wrote:

As for the graphics/sounds/etc., I didn't mention them because frankly I didn't think they were important.

I know you guys on here don't really tend to look at technical aspects for either praise or criticism, but personally I believe there is great merit to be had if a game displays impressive tech. Of course, great visuals absolutely do not cancel out fundamental flaws in a game, but it does still deserve highlighting IMO.

That's part of the reason I would rate Witcher 2 a 7/10, since I feel it offers some of the best visual design in gaming on any format. The soundtrack is also particularly strong, and deserves recognition.

I have been waiting for this

I have been waiting for this review, and God I'm happy after reading it. It proves me I'm not out of my mind. After trying to play this piece of art, I had to go and read all those fans and reviewers praising it and wonder if they played the same game as I. I loved the first Witcher, and I could forgive it all its flaws. I had been waiting for second Witcher since the first, and then I get this...console port (yes, it is made having XBOX in mind and it shows) with terrible QTE:s, unresponsive controls and loads of tits. I think tits are the story that is so praised. Nothing beats tits. I wonder what devs had been smoking when they decided Geralt can't drink potions when in battle. Worse, he has to meditate to take potions, and devs decide when you can meditate and where. I was fan of potions in first Witcher, now I had no clue why they even existed. I can see no point in dying in battle once to see if I might need a potion.

So when a reviewer of the site I respect very much shares my every thought of the game, it makes me a happy person. I can now believe I did not get different copy of the game than others.

And sorry my not-so-perfect English, I'm Scandinavian.

Thanks for replying to my comment...

The cave/mine under Vergen:
Ah, that cave can be pretty confusing. I remember getting lost in my first playthrough. The map there could use some improvement there. There is another semi-hidden side quest there, and a locked room with some ok loot. But I tend to agree that the exploration doesn't feel that rewarding in terms of loot, often times you get peanuts for all your hard work. Other than that particular cave, I thought the cave-crawling aspect to be pretty light.

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Group fight:
I don't know what else would be a good alternative to that though? In the beginning you are supposed to be weak, and when you're outnumbered, you have to rely on tactics (dodging, running around getting 1-2 hits, throw bombs, use Axii). Considering how hard the enemy hits you too, you can't really stand there and take hits while trying to attack at the same time.

Admittedly there are some questionable design which exarcebates the issue: for example, early on you can only block 2 attacks before your vigor runs out (and vigor takes a long time to regenerate). There are some (relatively long) pauses between actions which can be annoying. And also, the jumpy auto-targetting.

But I would like to hear what other mechanics that you propose? I mean, there are no large AoE spells, there is no swirling holy hammer skill, there is no round attack (there is a "shield" sign though). You get staggered with every hit you take, you get to take 5-6 hits before you die, groups do not take turn to attack, they are aggressive etc.

I disagree with the claim that this is a bad combat design. It is very punishing, true, but fully functional once you get the hang of it (although the flaws that I mentioned do frustrate).

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Potions:
True, keeping potion on indefinitely is kind of counter-intuitive to the "preparation" or strategic aspect. The devs were trying to keep true to the books, but it does present a catch-22 situation (potions can help you in battles but you won't know you need the potions until you stumbled into the battles). Keeping potions on all the time is a workaround but not a solution per se. It gets much better on subsequent playthroughs significantly, but not everyone will have the patience/time to do another playthrough.

Despite that, potions are still useful (more so if you upgraded relevant skills) - it's just that the interface (meditation do take quite a long time) and relatively short timer makes it inconvenient.

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Story:
I guess this is probably your main gripe with the game? I guess it is to a certain extent depending on your taste although most reviews seem to find the story/characters engaging. Let's put that aside.

Still need some clarification on the "Tolkien-inspired setting" though, not exactly sure what that means? I get the impression that it is significantly different from Tolkien's world, the latter being more majestic and romantic (not to be confused with the other kind of romance) but the witcher world feels rather gritty and downright nasty (pogroms, raping, racial tension, non-humans living in squalor etc.)

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The other things:
I'm surprised the world design didn't leave a deep impression with you. It's not a huge world, but the details astounded me. As to "laundry listing features", I thought a review should examine all aspects of a game, such as visuals/graphics, gameplay(characters/combat), performance, and story, regardless of how the reviewer feels about those aspects.

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Metacritics evaluated your review to represent a score of 55%, just so you know :).

One was complex?!?!?!?!?

Unintuitive>complex, one was unintuitive, instead of making it fun to play it was lick work,even worse the craptastic point and click( clutch and gear) combat which should NEVER be used in a fully rendered 3D game.

I am not saying the game was bad but barely above mediocre when the norm is a 4 or a 5 out of 10 dose not make it great. Stop defending problematic media it only makes them produce more shit.

Now on to this witcher game.....uuhggg...... consolation anyone? At least its better than dragon age 2 but thats not saying much as DA is a pitifully weak and buggy series that has been given a 10 by drugged and or addicted reviewers wanting more white lines to snort.

I know I know I am re/ag-gressively digressing the witcher is is not bad but not great stuck in the wasteland of above average but damaged games I would give it a 6 the frist one about a 7 despite all of its issue,spectacle dose not impress me I go with mechanics and how the story and equipment are paced out this is why I tend to hate on newer media as it tends to be too shallow and hollow.

With that said I think the combat could have been improved for both have 2 separate combat modes one is a pause/TB time ,turn based like mode where you have control over the situation and can plan out the battle as it progresses ALA KOTOR the other is a realtime combat mode where dodge and blocking come into play and modify your stats so instead of solely relying on a hit/miss script you have a more real time combat. Also all the styles of combat can be pulled off by icon or key/movement combination making real time combat more fluid.Weaopns or equipment sets can be changed via something like shift and 1-4 keys up to 2 sets per key and 8 sets at a time to quickly change to.

TO me these thigns are simple but easy to use and master ways to allow gamers to have fun with it. Depending on the situation I would go with pause time combat to use my characters skills and stats to the fullest and use real time less essential ballets and exploring.

It seems to me they set their sights too low and went after the more lulzy less picky wider demographic like bioware did but still not as bad as the last 3 games from bioware.

@vAddicatedGamer Highlight

@vAddicatedGamer

Highlight the end of the last paragraph and you'll see the score-I did actually give it a 5.5.

The "tactics" you have to rely on when you're outnumbered are the problem-they aren't good to begin with, and the clumsy controls just makes it worse. I think a quicker, more responsive combat system would be best a la Kingdom Hearts 2 or God of War. Either that or make it purely point and click based like Dragon Age. The current setup is just an absolute flop, so something has to change.

The Tolkien comment refers to aesthetics (medieval European setting, elves, dwarves, magic, etc.) more than anything else. You're right that the world is certainly grittier and more human as opposed to Tolkien, and using a western fantasy setting isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the Witcher's world is just so.....drab that's it's damn near impossible for me to care about anything.

And like I said, we don't laundry list. Reviews are by no means obligated to talk about every single aspect of a game. If I were to talk about graphics/sound/etc., it would have been meaningless fluff, something I personally can't stand in reviews.

Story was a little too "gray"

Good Review. I agree with the rating given; there were a lot of problems with the story and combat.

I liked the fact that there were no easy choices, and that the game was nothing but gray, but it was morally ambiguous for exactly the wrong reasons. I suppose that in order to create a difficult choice in a game, you can do it in one of two ways. The first is to make every character likable, so the player has a hard time choosing between them because he doesn't want to let the other character down by choosing the "greater of two goods". The second method is to make every character essentially a bad guy, so the player is always forced to choose between the "lesser of two evils."

CD projekt used The "lesser of two evils" approach for the Witcher 2, and while it succeeded in making a lot of choices difficult, it failed at engaging the player in the story. Because none of the characters that were involved in the major plot decisions were likable, players didn't necessarily want to team up with either of them. Because players were forced to fight alongside characters we neither liked nor agreed with, each part of the main quest felt like a strained chore that we were being forced to do before reaching the end of the game.

The main point of the game was to clear Geralt's name by finding the kingslayer, but by the time we got to him, we had seen so many atrocities committed by the Northern Kingdoms we were supposed to be protecting that I no longer cared who won or lost in the political struggle.

The reason the Witcher 2's story fails is because it is so concerned with being dark that it refuses to create moments that cause its audience to love its characters or its world in general. By the end, the only plot point that I was interested in was rescuing Triss, but the story was so dense with intrigue and there was so much else going on that, disappointingly, her sub-plot did not get the amount of attention I felt it deserved.

Regarding combat and preparation, I'm willing to let the "no-potions" thing slide because it was a unique stylistic choice, but I agree that the skills given to the player aren't suited to fighting more than perhaps three opponents, but the game frequently throws upwards of six enemies per fight. The only way to get past these encounters is by using the Quen sign, a spell that makes the Witcher essentially invulnerable for a short duration. Unfortunately, using this ability not only feels like cheating, but also turns the game into a button-mashing affair almost completely devoid of skill or strategy.

Essentially, the combat in this game was only fun a fraction of the time. Every fight that I could beat without using the shield spell was a blast, but these were few and far between.

Good Review

After 6h of play and die so many times. I decide to google for tips and found this review. I couldn't agree more. I thought i'm the only one having trouble playing the game on normal level. If any one had played dragon age 2 , you'll will see a huge different. This "Witcher 2" game suck....

Story, graphics etc

Well I just finished playing this and I have to agree about the story. Half the time you don't know who or what they are talking about and most of the time you don't really care. Plots within plots are really only interesting if you understand what they are about. But in this case the plots are hatched by people you hardly know, to overthrow people you never meet and for reasons that are never entirely clear. In the middle of that you (The Witcher) run around looking for stuff or killing stuff, which most of the time isn't even related to the main story (whatever it is).

That said, the art is amazing. I love the character designs and I particularly enjoyed the costume designs, which are somewhere between medieval and renaissance in style. I loved the way they incorporated early book print lettering in armors, weapons and clothes. Very original stuff. I also enjoyed most of the locations, except maybe the caves and Loc Muinne (the latter not because of the design, but because its side quests and its arm wrestling and poker dice stuff etc seemed redundant and unnecessary for a final plot location. I mean why would you try solving a bunch of riddles to get some magic weapon, when you are approaching the grand finale?). I hardly bothered exploring the place, which is easy to do because the story carries you right past it.

With a better story and more interesting quests, this could have been a great game. The talent is there, but the level design and the writing leaves a lot to be desired.

Not happy with this review

I'm not happy at all with this review because it is spot on. When I started playing the Witcher 2 a month ago I took heed of reviews complaining about the huge initial difficulty, so I started on easy and had the most glorious introduction to the game. The atmosphere, the setting, the nudity, even the combat, it was all fantastic... But then about a third of the way in I began to realize that the atmosphere was paper thin - I tried very hard to venture out at the first available opportunity and found that this was not Oblivion - the lush forest in the background was just that - a background. Furthermore even on easy it's apparent the combat is not just hard, it's broken. The difficulty increases exponentially with the number of enemies, so you either stand your ground and die rapidly (even on easy) or run around in circles as many here have noticed. Of course I remember running away many times in Oblivion or Fallout, and finding a more appropriate battle, but with the Witcher 2 pushing you down a narrow corridor of gameplay, you cannot escape so easily - hence, you run in circles while your health regenerates or you give up. So I'm genuinely disappointed in this review. For a month now I've been hoping for an excuse to come back - I've been hoping one of the eccentric freaks at Gamecritics would play this the way it was meant to be played, tell us how that might be, and proclaim the Witcher 2 a work of genius. Oh well... Thanks for playing it to the end Richard, now I don't have to.

Game's too hard? Oh c'mon,

Game's too hard?

Oh c'mon, If the game would be too easy with hand-to-hand combat only, what would you do with spells, grenades and traps? I played it with hard and never had an issue on combat, even before the first patch what made combat snappier. Maybe you have to rethink your talents to suit your gaming style in that case. I do hate the boss checkpoints too though. :)

About the story: Few here already commented that the story makes you hate both sides of your allies, whatever you choose of the lesser evils.
I think that's the story's purpose really, since Gerald itself doesn't like it either. However of course it's up to individual to decide what kind of story he likes or not...

And it's sad that (by reading the comments) some players have really got spoiled by the modern gaming "tutorials". These days you can't really make a game what trusts the player to use common sense, without complaining about it.
In chess they don't tell all the rules for you either, you have to read it/learn it yourself! Part of the beauty in older games was that you had to spend time in order to learn it fully. If you can't enjoy that part, maybe you shouldn't be playing games at all (or stick with the mobile/flash games).

The game isn't perfect in anyway, but I have enjoyed it more than anything that this "xbox-generation" RPG's has to offer.

All haters are here? :D

I must say, i haven't find another site where so mcuh negative feedback like here.. and i have read slovak, czech, poland, german, english, US, canada sites but this one is one of her kind.. on metacritics there are more then 1500 rating from people and the average score is 8,7/10, then there is a czech site bonusweb.cz where there are ratings from more then 1030 people and the average score is 9.0/10, then there is a slovak site sector.sk where the average score from people is 9.2/10, gamespot has ratings from almost 4 000 people and the average is 9.1/10 and last site is pcgames.de where the average score from 50 people is 8.7/10.. and i don't know another sites which have ratings from users, so that are all sites which i know.. i'm a hardcore gamer, i love games which are mature, hard, rewarding and Witcher 2 is everything which i love about hardcore games.. i understand those people who give this game a 6,7,8 points but under 6 is other my mind.. peolpe who love RPG and i mean RPG, not "RPG" like Mass Effect series which are of course great games, but not RPG's , must if not love this game, than enjoying,, but well, we are all different, right? :D

Dude, that was like,

Dude, that was like, hardcore.

@ Anonymous

Personally, I don't agree that the game would be "easy" with only the sword, but even if it were, in battles where you face six or seven opponents, you would be forced to kite, and the fights would take way too long for the fight to be any fun. I do, however, think that the spells and bombs can make the game easy, especially once you upgrade Quen to damage three nearby enemies and last for two minutes.

Combat is manageable, but on both ends of the difficulty spectrum, it is no longer fun. Spamming bombs/spells isn't fun, and neither is endless kiting. The real issue here is that Witcher 2 fails to find a balance between giving you the tools you need to survive and letting you use those tools far too often.

They could have made the combat more balanced by adding cooldowns to your spells, items, and abilities. If after Quen expired or after I used a bomb, I had to wait 15-20 seconds, I'd be much more inclined to think my actions through, but I wouldn't feel the need to kite or run away. This would also force players to use a wider variety of skills, instead of spamming one. Also, the Igni sign appears to be unblockable against non-boss enemies, which makes it feel a bit cheap as well.

With regards to the story, maybe the developers intentionally made us hate every other character, but I prefer to have a few characters in the game world I can relate to when I play story based games, so I found the plot to be frustrating and un-enjoyable. However, I seem to be in the minority, since user reviews on Metacritic hover around 90, but this could be due to score inflation because people compare this game to Dragon Age II.

User scores are pointless

SVK87 wrote:

[...]on metacritics there are more then 1500 rating from people and the average score is 8,7/10, then there is a czech site bonusweb.cz where there are ratings from more then 1030 people and the average score is 9.0/10, then there is a slovak site sector.sk where the average score from people is 9.2/10, gamespot has ratings from almost 4 000 people and the average is 9.1/10 and last site is pcgames.de where the average score from 50 people is 8.7/10.. [...]

The problem with user scores is that the whole system is inherently flawed. People who bought the game will usually rate it generously, after all they are interested enough to make the effort to put a grade on it. People who found the game average probably won't bother to grade a game, that would explain why user scores tend to be very high or very low.

The very low ones come from two sources: people who bought the game and are deeply disappointed. They lack the emotional detachment that is necessary to grade a game fair. Second group are people who didn't buy the game but want to "teach them a lesson" and grade poorly because they are unhappy about some aspect like DRM, publisher demeanor etc.

Then there are people who think they have to 'correct' an either "too high" or "too low" score by voting a 1 or 10 (a.k.a. morons).

That all adds together to a score that has no real meaning that would put it above that of your daily horoscope. My conclusion: user scores on the internet are pointless.

Not entirely

My personal opinion is that game is great. Now why. I played the game twice. First time i had the same problems as the reviewer. Geralt fell asleep when blocking was to be used ( now i know it's because Geralt can't block if his stamina is depleted - moronic? Yes, since he can run and jump normally just not hold his sword up).

I got killed nonstop, which pissed me off so much that i even used a trainer, still the guy lost all his health in 2 enemy hits. Finished it, and started again. Did ALL the side quests, and i mean ALL. After is saw my character didn't die as much and was even taking damage from 10 people at once with zero to none damage.

So my advice is play it again, do all the side quests. You won't regret it. And play the Scoiatel path, because Roche's reveals practically nothing of import. My opinion.

Unfair review

For a guy who says that he liked demons souls your review is very unfair.Sure the witcher 2 isnt perfect, the story can be in some moments pretty intensive and the potions system and alchemy are not that well thought over, as well as the daggers and traps.But all that aside, the witcher 2 is hell of a game and i will tell you why.I remenbered when demons souls first came out, many people complained that it was too hard.Now anyone who played it,can tell you that is an awesome game, that requires patience and skill, and so is the witcher 2.But by far, I died 10 times more in DS than I died in witcher 2.But if you dont like witcher 2 because you died a lot, how the hell did you finish demon souls in the first place? And the other thing that makes the witcher 2 so awesome is the choices.Without making any big spoilers, i will tell that the game story, quests, and NPC change completely with one choice.So if you really want to finish the game properly you have to play it at least 2 times.So I suggest you give it another shot,now that you 've mastered the combat, and compare it to other RPG's on the market.You 'll see that there isnt anything quite like wicher 2, just like demons souls

Good Review

Good review and fair score. You need to understand the motivation behind the Witcher fanboy phenomena. A lot of the metacritc user 10s are actually designed as insults to Bioware for DA2. We need some example of 'better' (true or not) to taunt the Canadians into raising their game. I think a lot of players giving witcher 2 10 are doing so with this ulterior motive. We prefer critics to join the circus, but can't deny that the things you say are actually fair commentary.

I played the first Witcher a

I played the first Witcher a little bit and wondered what all the hubbub was about. From reading the comments here, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who finds these games ridiculously overrated. The feeling I got from was that they just tried to disguise an overall lack of content by breaking down simple game elements into fractured little pieces that would be slow to digest. If you look at the talent trees in the first one, it's just augmenting a few mechanics that are already there. I'll probably go back and play some more of it at some point in time. Hopefully the broken quest chain I encountered will be gone when I load it up.

Scoring system as a whole is

Scoring system as a whole is pointless in terms of indication of quality, even the scores coming from "professional" reviewers. I quoted the word because their opinions are no different from the reviews written by other people. They are all opinions. User's preferences and reviewers' preferences don't really mach all the time. Plus they are inclined to give high scores for games from major companies, and the number of reviews from these people for each game isn't enough to represent the demographic. All of these scores and overall impressions presented on the web and TV, they are all vague and unreliable.

There are no right or wrong reviews either since they are all subjective.

Whats important is to find a reviewer who shares the similar point of view so that you would know whats right for you.

Regarding the criticizm on the narretive of the Witcher 2

First and foremost, I am would like to propose that I am not a troll so that you can read my reply without fear.

If you are at all interested in discussing or knowing about the narrative issues in the Witcher 2, I suggest you to go to the following forums. Pick one.

Links to all Forums:

Destructoid "http://forum.destructoid.com/showthread.php?22036-The-Witcher-2-Storyline-Discussion&p=942315#post942315",

IGN "http://boards.ign.com/pc_games_lobby/b7203/206242596/r206242596/?statusId=PostTopicSuccess",

Giant Bomb"http://www.giantbomb.com/the-witcher-2-assassins-of-kings/61-28178/the-witcher-2-storyline-discussion/35-520750/"

The Witcher forum "http://en.thewitcher.com/forum/index.php?/topic/25152-the-witcher-2-storyline-discussion/

Thank you! Spot on

Thank you! Spot on counter-review

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