Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition SaHD Gamer Review

So after having some time with the game, I should get to my full review of The Witcher 2: EE.  I'm going to talk about the areas that I use in my "Late to the Party" reviews.

The graphics are amazing in The Witcher 2: EE.  They are the best I've seen of any Western RPG, and easily some of the best I've seen in any game.  A lot of the scenery is the normal WRPG pallet of brown and grey, but some armor, hair and monsters take advantage of other colors.  This brightens up the look of the game, somehow makes it look more realistic and removes the stereotype it could find itself in.

The characters are great.  They move very naturally and look fantastic.  The environments are lush, detailed and are very believable.  I especially like the intro cut-scene.  The graphics are the highest caliber there.  While they should be, it looks so good you know the rest of the game will too.

The vocal quality to this game is high.  No one I encountered was annoying and the characters actually sounded like people, not someone just doing a voice.  The main character comes off a bit like Christian Bale's Batman, but not as much as the main character from Two Worlds II.  The music is fine for the game.  Nothing really stood out as particularly great, but it all at least "fit".  There was no death metal or J-Pop blasting in during fights or something of that nature.

Here is where the game will suffer for some.  Having 2 different swords, one better on monsters and the other better on humans is a cool idea.  I did have trouble telling them apart, as they appear pretty similar and you would have to think in advance to draw the one better suited to the fight because it can be very hard to tell which is which in a pinch.

The controls mostly were fine, bringing up the menu is the back button, but there is no shortcut for the map, which would've been nice.  Moving through the menus was cumbersome and never really "clicked" with me, I must say.  Being able to tell what I had equipped wasn't as clear cut as I would've liked and I had a hard time telling if equipment I was looking at was better than what I had.  Also, using items and trowing daggers was really awkward to me.  The time-slowing effect was very needed, but I still didn't want to use it at all, it didn't seem..."right", if that makes sense.  It also didn't click with me.  Controls for the minigames were not clear to me.  Maybe they were explained in the instruction book, but I didn't get that with my copy.  An in-game lookup would've been helpful.  I'm not looking to be hand-held, but the ability to check in some menu in game should be there.

Difficulty.  You can't really talk about this game without bringing it up.  The game is hard, no two ways about it.  After the brief and cumbersome tutorial, the game suggested I play on easy.  As a grown man that has played video games for 20 years, and this type of game is one of my strengths, I was a little offended.  After all, this isn't a first person shooter.  I play RPGs and action RPGs all the time.  I love those games.  So I soldiered on with the "Normal" setting.  I feel that the normal setting should be completable with few troubles by someone who knows the type of game.  The Witcher 2: EE isn't like that at all.  I never actually put it down to easy, so I saw many a game over screen, even in the first hour of playing.  Humbling and ridiculous at the same time.  I can't even imagine the hardest difficulty setting.  I wanted to show a picture of the "Game Over" screen, but you will see it enough on your own.  I don't feel like a badass when a normal soldier (or three) can kill me in 3 hits.  Each fight was an exercise in trial and error.  I saved a lot, which saved me some swearing.  Blocking helped, but you cannot block 360 degrees until level 7, and enemies are smart enough to take advantage of that.  On the normal setting.  Too brutal for my tastes.

Being an RPG, you can expect it to have a respectable length.  I've heard at least 20+ hours if not hunting down every sidequest and such.  I imagine that is what the game clock says.  Much like Punch-Out, you will spend much more time in dying that likely isn't reflected on the in-game timer.  There is an achievement for beating the game on the hardest difficulty setting, which I can imagine is a frustrating and time consuming task.  You will likely get your money's worth there.

There is no online whatsoever, so nothing much to say about that.  I'm always glad for another single player game, though.

There is a fair amount of extra things to do.  Many small choices or events give the player small permanent buffs.  This I like, although the completionist in me screams when I found out that I've missed one.  Also, while I knew about it ahead of time, I still love the Assassin's Creed joke/easter egg.  I'll be honest, my review copy didn't come with the extras that paying people get, so I can't comment on them.  They look awesome, and my wife would appreciate the soundtrack, but I didn't get those.  Surprisingly, I didn't even get an instruction booklet....and that sucked.

So, the question is, did I have fun with this game?  Is it worth picking up?  In short, yes, I had some fun with it.  It was hard to work up the urge to play, knowing that I would die time and again, but I could sometimes manage it.  I like the style of game, so that helped.  If you want to buy it, $60 seems fair, but around launch it could be purchased for $45.  That is a much better deal, but be prepared for the difficulty.  Before attempting The Witcher 2: EE, slam your fingers in a car door a few times so you are used to pain, then enjoy.

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