Also available on Linux, OSX, and Windows
I'd been putting off playing this game for quite a while. I kept meaning to - I'd enjoyed the story in the first game, and I've heard the third game's praises sung non-stop for like a year and a half - but I knew I'd want to keep playing once I started, so I was waiting for a long weekend. Well, what better time to start a mid-length RPG than Memorial Day weekend? Luckily for me, I seriously had my shit together with gaming as I managed to put in about 30 hours and clear the game in two days.
The Witcher 2 picks up the story of Geralt of Rivia a few months after the conclusion of the first game. Still without the memory of his past, Geralt investigates the mysterious assassination of two of the Northern Kingdoms' monarchs and rumors that witchers may be involved. Graphically, the game looks pretty much like its predecessor did, but thankfully, the combat feels much more fluid and natural in the sequel. It's not perfect, mind you; the commands to lock on to enemies and draw your weapon still felt a bit sluggish, and the combat mechanics didn't feel quite as polished as they could have been, but it felt significantly more intuitive and responsive to me than the first game. Granted, I played the first game on PC and the second on Xbox 360, so there's a little bit of apples-to-oranges here, I suppose, but regardless, I felt much more comfortable and confident in the combat this go around.
One thing that I did notice is that there seemed to be a lot less non-humanoid monster slaying in this game than in the first one. You still kill a lot of rotfiends and nekkers (try saying that in frustration with a deep Southern accent; makes for some awkward misunderstanding), but those are bipedal and generally humanoid looking. There isn't nearly as much "beast" killing as there was in the first one. I'm not saying that's either good or bad, necessarily, but it definitely felt just a little less "fantasy" than the first one without the flocks of wyverns to kill (although there were, thankfully, plenty of harpies to massacre).
My one big complaint with this game is the amount of bugs I encountered, especially given that the game's age has passed the half-decade mark. Most of the bugs weren't game breaking, but there was some noticeable screen tearing from time to time, a fair amount of texture pop-in, and extremely finicky button command prompt triggers. I did, however, encounter two or three instances where a major quest flag failed to trigger, forcing me to reload an older save, and four or five instances of side quests being bugged and rendered impossible to complete. The minor bugs, I can ignore and live with, but quest-breaking bugs and main quest flags that don't trigger aren't minor. It's also worth noting that I was playing with the game installed on my 360's hard drive; I shudder to think the frequency and type of graphical glitches I'd have encountered without installing.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Witcher 2. The story definitely kept me hooked, although I found it a little less intriguing than that of the first game, and the characters were decently well developed. Graphically, it looks just fine for an Xbox 360 title, although it certainly doesn't push the system's limits, and the texture pop-in was disappointing. The bugs, however, are definitely an issue worth noting, and from my wiki perusing, it seems as though most of the game's quests have known bugs in one situation or another. Despite all that, however, I finished feeling satisfied and excited to fire up the third game once summer break begins, especially since I have the GOTY edition with all of the DLC.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.