Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition" Initial Impressions Review

So what happens when you take a guy who's video gaming bread and butter has always been a mix of platformers, Japanese Role Playing Games (jRPG), and puzzle games and then give him a western Role Playing Game (wRPG) to play through and review? A genre he rarely plays and has barely any affection for?

Let's find out, shall we?

"The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition" is a Western stylized Third Person Action Role Playing Game made by CD Projekt RED and published on the Xbox 360 by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. It is a sequel to the PC game "The Witcher" & based on the book series "Wiedźmin" ("The Witcher") by Andrzej Sapkowski.

A good way to catch up to the beginning of the game is to watch this video here that explains the events in the first "The Witcher" game.

The game is about the story of a mutant known as Geralt of Rivia, his mutant race known as "Witchers", with his goal being to try to clear his name after the assassination of the King of Temeria, King Foltest. Joined by his companions, Geralt journeys the land to find the assassin and unmask him as the real culprit.

One thing that defines the wRPG, is it's branching dialouge. The choices you make in conversation will change the gameplay or even the story. You could choose one option and you would not go into a battle and settle things peacefully or choose one that could piss off the other person and be forced into a fight.

The gameplay though, as far as battles, is strait up hack 'n slash like the 3D "Legend of Zelda" games or "Dynasty Warriors". This combination of wRPG and Hack 'n Slash has been done before in a game series like "Fable". The qualty of the fight though is dependent entirely on what you choose the difficulty to be. If you choose easy, then mash the A & X buttons to your heart's content, anything harder and you'll have to change things up with parrying, blocking, and magic use. Potions can also effect battle too by poisoning your sword or increasing your vitality (health bar, essentially) regeneration.

There are also QTEs (Quick Time Events) strung through the game like a "Shenmue" or "God of War", where you have to time certain button presses that show up on screen, failure usually being a loss of health. One nice thing that I've only seen in this game so far is the option for less or more difficult QTE segments. So essentially putting the game on easy and less dificult QTEs makes the game a great intro to Action wRPGs for newbies of the genre.

With that stuff out of the way, let's talk opinions.

Now, being honest here, I've only played through the Prolouge. This is why this is an intial impressions review.

I don't normally play wRPGs that much myself. Most of the time it's because the theme or style is just not my flavor. Most of the time it's too grim and gritty or too "star Treky" if that makes any sense.

However, "The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition" is not that offensive to my tastes. The pallet could use a bit more color as it looks like there's grime on everything. They reccomend to install the game onto the system to reduce load times and it does help but there are still issues of textures popping up during cut scenes due to loading, it's offputting and breaks the flow of the game. But really nothing if you're the kind that likens to Mystery Science Theatre type point outs of mistakes in your head. The facial modeling is fine, not uncanny valley type realistic but not cartoony either, a good blend. The animated cut scenes that cover long periods of travel or backstory are quite well made. The style really fits well and compliments the package as a whole.

The music is typical of the genre and the sound effects work well. The controls feel intuitive and not clunky, although I wouldn't mind a good medium when it comes to movement as it's either a slow walk or full blast run. When "Super Mario 64" still has better movement controls 16 years later, we have an issue to how you made the game. Other side speaking though, I can see why. The game is essentially a port of the PC version of the game "The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings" where keyboards don't have analog controls, I figure though with it being an "Enhanced Edition" they'd fix that. But whatever, it certainly isn't that bad of movement controls and is not a dealbreaker.

One thing that is depressing about this game is when you look at other reviews of the game around the mainstream gaming sites, "IGN 9/10, Gamespot 9/10, GameTrailers 9.4/10, Metacritic overall score 88/100". It's depressing that the gaming review industry as a whole is just that, an industry, a business if you will. Everybody and their mother knows that the gaming review industry's score a wholey based on buyouts, swag, hardballing, and vendettas. It's the reason why some good games fly under the radar because they didn't bribe IGN (for example) to give a good score. This gives a standard of high money making publisher's games getting a standard scale of 7-10 out of 10, nothing lower. That's not to say that this is a bad game though, just my initial impressions don't feel that this is on par with other 9/10 games that have been reviewed.

This is why I will not be giving out a score. I really reccomend that if you're interested in a game, don't rely on review websites, don't rely on my reviews, go out and try it for yourself. After all, who's a better judge of a game you might like than yourself?

Sometime soonish, I'll be back to do my midway review of the game to talk about the meat and potatoes of the game as I go through Act 1 and beyond. I'll be talking about what it is you'll be doing most of the time.

See you then.

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