Witcher 2 bittersweet review

I’ll not bother with pictures or story, everything can be found elsewhere. I used http://witcher.wikia.com/ as a guide when I needed it. I want to sum up my experiences and feelings from the game development lately.

Consolization is obviously unstoppable process that can be understood. Some games deal with it better – with PC having proper treatment – others fare worse. Witcher 2 is the latter case, unfortunately.

I’ll skip all the good parts – story and graphics (after many years I upgraded my graphics adapter to get this game into enjoyable shape :-)).

The first big letdown was the fact that keyboard is adjustable only out of game through dedicated configuration program (as are many other things, but those are of less importance for serious gameplay). Even when you want to check your layout, you have to go there. My solution was to use snipping tool and let the screenshot on the second monitor as a reference. So it all started with terrible customization experience. If you want to change some setting be ready for 5 minutes roundtrip.

In-game control of the character itself is another disappointment. Geralt is unresponsive, walk is slow and then run is too fast when you’re picking things around – the whole feeling is laggy. Maybe it is my older rig, I don’t know. While turning around is acceptable, movement itself is terrible however.

I don’t like new fight system, first Witcher was more fun with combos. I avoided bombs and traps, unless situation required them (the first wraith fights especially). Maybe one of the reasons why I did so was that the whole UI was laggy, unresponsive and workflow terribly designed (graphically it is alright).

Similarly, mini-games that worked in the first game clearly suck in this one. Fist-fight is for babies, arm wrestling on the other hand is just frustrating with that jumping cursor – and dice poker? They couldn’t mutilate it any more (camera view, post-processing, physics, everything).

I don’t know what happens on the background when I move around my Inventory, but mouse is very lazy. Sorting the stuff is all but intuitive, with no tooltips where they would really help. And you have more ways how to accept things – mouse click, Enter (but not the numpad one?!) and Space. But not all of this works everywhere. I’d  welcome escape for dialogs with shopkeepers (it gets you menu).

Dialogs control are terrible too. You can believe clicking with your mouse on a dialog selection, but while the other one is highlighted, it is also the one to be selected. You have to move your mouse first – how practical. So you decide to load previous save, so you can repeat the dialogue. But saved game often shows picture from some completely different save – you can see the time is right (few minutes ago), but it truly is misleading when you first notice this. Audio is not balanced at all either – sometimes everything is fine, then other dialogs are hardly audible – you just don’t know how to set music volume properly.

Because so many things are made so complicated in game thanks to the controls (probably not a problem on console) I just didn’t do them. I made minimum of alchemy.

Yeah, I played on easy – which I normally don’t. I did it because before upgrading my graphics card it was pain to go through tutorial fights even on lower resolution. Game is probably CPU bound in my case, though new graphics definitely helped a lot. Maybe I would have to do more of alchemy on some higher difficulty, but honestly – I imagine it being rather frustrating anyway. I liked (or at least used) alchemy in the first game a lot. Not here.

Graphics and story are the strongest point for me. Audio is OK when it comes to soundtrack (I liked first one much more and often put it on without the game), dialogue quality varies (especially timing and volume during other noise), shouts are mostly hardly believable.

When I compare this game to Mass Effect (1 or 2, never played 3) – that is if you like both genres – this one was far less enjoying. In Flotsam I was stuck like forever, then the game got some pace, Vergen was OK, but all those corridors made me thinking how great freedom we had in the first Witcher – and chapter 3 was over very quickly. After this they tell you to wait after the credits to see the end… Don’t even bother – they go for like 20 minutes or more? Just check it on YouTube. Mass Effect? I just sat back after the job well done (saving the galaxy after all) and I could just listen to the music. Credit music in Witcher 2 gets boring after all those letters.

I’d gladly sit back and watch the credits, I’d really do – but after over 5 minutes it just adds bitterness to the bittersweet taste of the whole experience. Shame – could have been nice 9/10. For me all in all it’s more like 7/10.

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About virgo47
Java Developer by profession in the first place. Gamer and amateur musician. And father too. Naive believer in brighter future. Step by step.

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