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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Preview

by Diogo Miguel April 3, 2012

It’s often unusual to see a PC port of a video-game on a console. This is one of the reasons PC gamers tend to use when defending their stance on PC gaming. The reason is that console hardware takes years to evolve; while PC hardware is constantly moving forward. So it’s surprising to see CD Projekt porting the highly popular Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings to the Xbox 360. But will it live up to the high standards set by the PC version?

One of the biggest hurdles that players will face is the fact that it’s a sequel. Fortunately the development team added some footage to the beginning, explaining what happened in the Witcher. The team went to a lot of effort in introducing new players to the Witcher 2. A lengthy but useful tutorial is given at the beginning. It does a superb job of initiating anyone that would have otherwise been overwhelmed.

The Witcher 2 has one of the most advanced control systems known to mankind. Holding down a button will bring up a wheel menu with various prompts. Each has a different purpose such as assigning a sign spell to the main character Geralt of Rivia. What is fascinating is the fact that this action won’t stop what is currently happening. Instead players need to think fast, since time has only slowed down. It’s a great way to ensure that any decisions made in battle are spontaneous, like in real life.

Role playing games are all about being at the right time when it comes to completing certain quests. The Witcher 2 solves this by making it possible to skip to a certain time of the day, such as fast forwarding to dawn during the tutorial section. It’s a simple idea but it truly makes it accessible to those that can only play in short amounts of time. Sign casting is limited to a few attempts at a time but it is automatically recharged.

There’s a lot of signs to unlock and they all have useful functions, such as being able to control certain enemies. New abilities get unlocked by leveling up and choosing different areas in a special skill map. What’s so special about it is that it’s possible to either focus on one class or aim for a balanced character. It’s even possible to concoct potions that will boost certain statistics perimeters for a limited time. The level of detail that CD Projekt put into item usage is nothing short of extraordinary.

Those used to combat in similar role playing games are bound to struggle at first. Simply hitting one of the two attack buttons repeatedly won’t cut it in the Witcher 2. Specially when some of the enemies found have shields. Treating each type of enemy different is the winning strategy. Geralt’s health goes down quite easily so making the most of abilities, such as the evading roll, will ensure victory against large groups.

Check out the improvements and additions with this trailer.

Mastering the combo finish is vital since it’s extremely useful in dire situations. Use of physical attacks in conjunction with the appropriate sign spell is also essential. Supporting characters actively participate in combat. on the few occasions that they joined Geralt. It all adds up to an extremely enjoyable combat system which relies on skill.

It was only possible to attempt the prologue but there was much to experience. The Witcher 2 clearly attempts to engage the player by constantly changing the pace. A large chunk of the prologue is reserved for combat situations. One occasion employed the use of quick time events to help make a dragon chase exciting.

But in between are large areas where it’s possible to engage in side quests. What is interesting though is that it’s possible to choose different outcomes. One of them for example allows the player to request money for saving some civilians. It’s just one of the many outcomes that will probably have an effect later on.

It’s just not side quests that have different outcomes as many Xbox 360 players will soon find out. The story itself often engages the player by asking for input on various situations. It’s possible to peacefully resolve a key battle by picking the correct dialogue options.

What this means is that players directly influence how Geralt is perceived by others. It’s an effective idea employed in other video-games such as as the Mass Effect series. It’s certainly promising to think that each player will have a different experience, when playing through the Witcher 2.

One of the key elements that owners of the PC version will scrutinize is the visuals. The visuals will probably not live up to the PC version. But it’s still impressive to think that CD Projekt managed to port such a detailed world to hardware that was released years ago. There’s no major issues when it comes to the likes of frame rate drop during heavily populated areas. If the rest of the Witcher 2 is like the prologue then there isn’t nothing to worry about.

Witcher 2 might have come out last year, but this console port is a godsend for anyone who can’t afford to fork out for a PC upgrade, every couple of months. It even includes a few extras which might convince some of the PC Witcher 2 players to get this version. Anyone new to the Witcher 2 is probably in for the role playing experience of a lifetime.

If the rest of the port is like the prologue, then CD Projekt have truly done a superb job.

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