Cover your ears , kids. Your humble reviewer is about to say something sacrilegious. I wasn’t overly awed by CD Projekt’s 2007 game The Witcher. I know , I know, it’s blasphemous. The game was, after all, nominated for every gaming award under the sun. Gaming websites and magazines had to get in line to pin their coveted “Game Of The Year” award on The Witcher‘s crowded lapel. The game had everything going for it: It was from a scrappy, unknown studio; it was a real labor of love by a team releasing its very first game; and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love rooting for the underdog?
And you know what? For a first game by a newbie design team, it was pretty good. Not “Game of the Year” good, certainly not in a year that saw the release of Bioshock, Valve’s Orange Box, Call Of Duty 4, and several other significant games. I can hear readers crying foul over that last comment. “How dare you compare the initial offering from a beginner studio against multi-billion dollar franchises like Call Of Duty?” Sorry, folks, but you don’t get to pick your competition and you’re always going to be compared against the best. And the original Witcher simply had too many faults and nagging design problems to get my seal of approval.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the game for what it was: An exceedingly well made, flawed game. Luckily, at the time I remember thinking that there was nothing overly wrong with The Witcher that could not be fixed by a sequel and several more years of experience under the collective belts of its creators.
Which brings us to my review of the newly released The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings, available on PC and Xbox 360. For review purposes, the PC version was used.
Picking up right where The Witcher left off, Assassin Of Kings reintroduces us to white-maned Geralt Of Rivia, our hero, player character and the titular Witcher. For those of you unfamiliar with Witchers, think of them as monster hunters in a similar vein to Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane (or, heck, Buffy or the Winchester twins from Supernatural).
As the game begins, Geralt is rudely interrupted from engaging in a little hanky-panky with the superbly crafted sorceress Triss Merigold, the latter providing us with our first taste of Assassin Of Kings‘ ample nudity. (If you have a fetish for bedding virtual whor… uh, ladies of low moral standing, then The Witcher 2 is a game that caters to your needs.)
Not that I’m complaining.
These opening moments are told in flashback by a currently imprisoned Geralt. How he got in chains is the focus of the game’s first hour slash tutorial, which wastes no time throwing you into the thick of things. In no particular order, the tutorial requires you to escort royalty, fire medieval artillery, kill bad guys, and generally have a whole lotta fun storming the castle. Also, there’s a dragon, which is always good for a laugh. Unless you’re on the receiving end of its flame breath and thus a quicktime event necessary to dodge said crispy death.
Shortly, however, Geralt finds himself framed for regicide by an unknown assailant who, quite rudely, leaves our hero standing over a dead body, smoking gun (uh , broadsword ) in hand and looking guilty as heck. The rest of the 30 or so hours it will take you to finish the game’s main storyline mostly involve our intrepid Witcher attempting to prove his innocence while whacking people and assorted beasties with a huge blade and the occasional Sigil (The Witcher universe’s magical substitute). Leaving a trail of bodies in your wake never seemed like a particularly plausible way of showing your innocence to me but then again, I’m not a Witcher nor an Assassin Of Kings. I haven’t tried to assassinate anybody in years. And besides, my lawyer got Bieber to drop all the charges.
Moving right along…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Published by:
- Developed by:
- CD Projekt
- Year Released:
- US: May 17, 2011
- Also Available On:
- PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Also known as:
- The Witcher 2
- Official URL:
- The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings