An incredibly immersive and memorable world filled with tons of characters, satisfying combat, and an epic storyline
This is just one of the many, many incredible and memorable set-pieces in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and it merely sets up the beginnings of an optional sidequest. Shortly following the events of the first game, players are thrust back into the battle-worn boots of Geralt, whose profession as a Witcher entails hunting and slaying various monsters and mythical creatures for the simple and timeless task of making money. Though from the very beginning of The Witcher 2, it is made clear that far more is at stake in this title than producing mountains of gold through decapitating werewolves. Now in the employ of the king, Geralt has seemingly sworn fealty and is acting as a protector to his majesty, who is currently warring with a faction of rebels. This sets up the general story of the game, though I won't go any further as spoilers would ensue. Suffice to say, the world of The Witcher is rife with political conflicts, personal vendettas, species specific dilemmas, and an incredible assortment of other adversaries to contend with.
The dialogue does not disappoint either, and every bit of voice acting down to the smallest of side characters is superbly voiced, and it certainly helps that the world and facial animations are graphically superior to really any game I've seen to date. Interactions with other characters are presented in a masseffectesque dialogue wheel style, though it's more of list like format, and it gives the feeling that what you choose to say may retain a lasting impact on future situations in the game. Of course, being a monster hunter, you're presented with all varieties of devious monsters to slay, from undead, to kraken and even, dare I say, other witchers? And all of this combat is made enormously fun by an innovative and entertaining battle system, attacks happening in real time. My only gripe about the controls is that, personally, I prefer to play my games with the power of a high end PC, yet the simplicity of a gamepad. In this respect, the controls once you plug in a wired 360 controller transfer a bit sluggishly, though I'm sure with the upcoming Xbox 360 port these issues will be remedied.
For want of not spoiling the memorable adventures I had in the world of the Witcher for you, I'll simply state that Assassins of Kings is an epic achievement in not only game making, but story telling as well. A beautiful new world, yet one in turmoil, is presented in exquisite graphical detail, with fulfilling character interactions and dialogue choices. Combat remains satisfying throughout, and Geralt's quest only becomes all the more enticing with each bit of information you glean, main quest or not. With so much content, and top quality content at that, for this not to be on your shelf and a daily play as an rpg lover is blasphemy.