Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings PDF Print E-mail

The Witcher 2 is hot on the heels off a number of high profile RPGs: Skyrim, Reckoning and Mass Effect 3. Even though in many respects the game hasn't received the same airtime with console players, it holds its own with a unique, addictive story.

The Witcher 2 follows the exploits of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher (or mutant) falsely accused of murdering the king. Geralt spends his time chasing after the real assassin all over Timeria, a kingdom on the brink of civil war. The narrative is intriguing and engaging and you quickly realize that your actions affect the course of the story.

Fortunately, Geralt has a trick or two up his sleeve: a wide array of weapons, the ability to cast magic and create a number of useful potions. While there are some variation of weapons, like the use of traps and grenades, your real advantage in combat comes from magic and alchemy.

Magic is limited to five spells, though each spell is complimentary and designed to change the way you fight. For example, "Igni" casts a fireball and "Yrden" holds a baddy in place - combining these effects is an easy way to take down large baddies. On the other hand, alchemy gives you the ability to create potions that will increase your attributes, such as oils that will increase the damage that weapons can do and that will make grenades even more powerful and destructive.

Combat is tough and unforgiving towards a button-mashing approach. Geralt needs to adapt his combat style to each situation - setting traps, applying oils to weapons and drinking appropriate potions might be critical to a positive outcome.

Many RPGs fall over on the Xbox because of clunky, complex control systems. The Witcher 2 works well because the magic and weapons options are kept simple. Geralt is able to go into slow motion quickly and change between spells and secondary weapons. This makes the transition between combat styles quite easy.

There are a number of weaknesses in the game. The inventory system is clunky and comparing items and trading is cumbersome. Also, the game is filled with Quick Time Events (QTE) where you have to mindlessly press a combination of buttons to progress the story. 

Finally, the violence, gratuitous sex scenes and political themes are not appropriate for a younger audience. Fortunately, these issues are relatively minor and don't take away from the enjoyment of the story.

The Witcher 2 is a brilliant port from the PC version. The story is riveting and addictive and Geralt is a sympathetic protagonist. The game is a near perfect open world adventure but still manages to keep the story tight and engaging. It is the best game I've played this year.

Pros: Deep well-paced story; environment, simple combat system; stunning graphics for an RPG
Cons: Only 10 save slots; sexual content, language and violence and might not be age appropriate; too many Quick Time Events
Rating: 9/10 
Time to completion: ~70 hours
Price: R599

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