The world Geralt of Rivia inhabits is not black or white. There are no purely bad villains, doing horrible things for the sake of doing them, and there are no saintly kings either. Everyone has an agenda and everyone thinks their actions are justified.
The The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is not your average RPG tale of good vs evil. It’s a tale of political intrigue in a world where people fear and hate that which they need the most: The witcher.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition)
Systems: XBox 360 [Reviewed], PC
Developer: CD Projekt
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive
Released: April 17, 2012
In the The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings you play as the stoic witcher Geralt of Rivia as he pursues the mysterious Kingslayer through the Pontar Valley. Like all witchers, he was mutated by sorceresses and trained to fight monsters from birth. And like all witchers, Geralt has yellow cat eyes that makes it rather hard from him to blend in with a crowd. Unfortunately for Geralt, the very people he was trained to protect are the ones most distrustful of him.
Based on the works of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher 2 is a mature game. Not only because it features a healthy dose of sex and violence, but because it’s a tale of a world on the brink of war. Sure there are dragons and monsters to fight, but regicide, bastard children, and politics are the central themes of the game’s story.
Don’t worry if you didn’t play the first Witcher on the PC, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings provides plenty of back story through stylized cutscenes. Plus, the game gives you plenty to read through at your leisure in the form of character biography and location details, and I suggest you do. The Witcher 2 doesn’t hold your hand while telling its multi-layered tale and expects the player to actively invest time in figuring it out. This might alienate some people, but I like the fact that the developers don’t spoon feed you the story.
That being said, one place I wish CD Projekt did do a better job directing you was with the in-game map. While not a major detractor from the overall experience, I would have liked to have been able to set custom waypoints on the map. I’m not sure if this is an intentional omission by the developers, thus forcing the player to pay attention to their surroundings and rely on landmarks to navigate, or just bad design. Either way, it slowed my progress on more than one occasion.
By now most of you who are reading this review have heard how gorgeous the graphics are in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. I can say with all honesty that they live up to the hype, but come at a price on the XBox 360. Even with the game installed on my machine there were a lot of graphical pop-ins. This was the most jarring during conversations between characters when their textures would pop-in after ever time the camera cut back to them. Thankfully, this isn’t as noticeable in the beautiful environments and the short load times are very tolerable.
CD Projekt took great care to make the characters and locations look alive and beautiful. You won’t find identical looking NPCs roaming around in the game, and even soldiers wearing identical armor look different. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the random dialogue – stand around the same group of people and you’ll hear the same thing repeated ad nauseum.
Those of you that go into The Witcher 2 thinking you are going to be constantly grinding for loot are in for a shock. This isn’t Diablo. Equipping better swords and stronger armor is, of course, important but not necessarily the key to success. Battles are won or lost based on the player’s skill, quick thinking, and potion management (more on that soon).
The combat in Witcher 2 was my favorite aspect of the entire game. It’s a mixture between action games and traditional RPGs with a heavy emphasis on preparation and opponent awareness. You can’t just go into battles swinging your sword with no regard for the opposition – You need to time your blocks, parries, and dodges in order to line up the best possible attack.
Witchers are rumored to have supernatural powers, but it’s actually their reliance on ability-granting potions that started said rumors (and their cat-like eyes of course). Before each battle you are encouraged to drink a concoction of elixirs that can grant you various stat buffs, but you can only drink as much as your body will allow. Every potion has an overall toxicity to it so you can’t just drink everything you have, you have to balance the benefit of the potion with how much you can consume.
Everything about The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) is a balancing act. From the strategic combat to the layered story, CD Projekt balances what the player expects from an action game and what they expect from an RPG. The player is also expected to balance their time between playing the game and reading about the meticulously detailed world Andrzej Sapkowski created to get the most out of the experience. Aside from a few graphical hiccups, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a tour de force that shouldn’t be missed by any XBox 360 or PC owner.
Like a good rated R movie, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings doesn’t shy away from giving the viewer a healthy dose of sex to go with the violence. As Geralt of Rivia you’ll of course be able to bed your main squeeze, busty redhead Triss Merigold, but if you play your cards right you’ll also be able to do the dirty deed with other characters as well.
I know, I know. You want to hear the answer to the million dollar question: Are the sex scenes in The Witcher 2 as hot as everyone says they are? Oh yes my friends, they are.
If you are familiar with how the late-night sex scenes are handled on Cinemax, then you have a good idea of what to expect here – Basically hardcore without showing any penetration or genitals. I was pleasantly surprised to see Geralt take one of his lovely conquests doggy style in a fountain (I’m being vague so as to not spoil any surprises). The sexual encounters are tastefully done but definitely more hardcore than the ones found in the God of War series.
Unlike God of War though, there is a lot less random nudity and exposed breasts in Witcher 2. One thing I always loved about Kratos’ adventures is that he would regularly run into hot Greek chicks with their boobs hanging out (Oracle of Athens, Lahkesis, etc). But, what Geralt’s time in the Pontar Valley lacks in nip-slips it more than makes up for in busty women.
The character models in The Witcher 2, from Triss Merigold to the whores in Flotsam, are all highly detailed and wonderfully curvy. Even when Triss and Vernon Roche’s female soldier Ves are fully clothed, you can always make out their supple round asses through their tight pants. The sorceresses that inhabit Geralt’s world have a penchant for wearing low cut dresses and have runic tattoos on their chests giving you more of a reason to look down at them. As a bonus, most of the “working women” usually have decent sized tits spilling out of their tops as you talk to them.
While the sex in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) isn’t as frequent as I would have hoped, when it does happen the viewer is treated to some of the best video game intercourse to date. This is helped by the fact that each female character model is expertly crafted and genuinely beautiful to look at, with or without clothes on. The fact that the sex scenes are this hot and the game is this good should make The Witcher 2 a must-buy for any XBox 360 or PC owner.