Not for the hobbyist adventurer or slow-witted, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is one of the best PC RPG's in history
I originally bought this game the day it was released. I played it for about 15 hours and got a bit frustrated with some of the in-game mechanics. I shelved the game and broke it out every once in a while to gawk at the graphics. Well, I recently found out that the game has gone through a serious patch cycle, and that the enhanced edition will be made available to PC owners of the game for free. I decided to break it out again and upgrade to patch 2.1. What a difference the patch made for me! The combat and inventory systems have been reworked, and the bugs that took me out of the experience are gone! The game is utterly fantastic, and I am thrilled I returned to it.
The story is a bit convoluted and requires a lot of attention. You play as Geralt of Rivea, a Witcher- a mutated professional monster hunter. The game starts with Geralt in the service of King Foltest during a campaign to rescue his bastard children from the clutches of a rival family. In the end, Foltest gets to his children and gets assassinated by an enormous man, who then jumps out the window. Geralt gets fingered for the crime, as nobody else saw him do it. Just before his execution, an interrogator named Vernon Roche helps the Witcher escape, and thus begins the journey to clear his name.
The plot is very deep and astonishingly well written. The game deals with some very adult themes, like racism, economics, politics, nepotism, regicide... it's a very adult tale, and it's unbelievably grisly at times. It's also somewhat difficult to follow at times, but the journal's quest logs and sections on key people and places help connect the dots. The characters all feel like real people with real motivations, and there's a lot of sneakiness to the game. The best part is that the game gives you ability to make some pretty tough moral choices throughout the game that can play out in some pretty unbelievable ways. The best part is that there are serious moral pros and cons to every choice, meaning that a lot of the choices you have to make are shades of grey that you may not entirely agree with. This helps make the game world feel chaotic and desperate, and that goes a long way to making the experience a total immersion in this fantasy world.
The graphics in this game are mind-blowing. The world has a rugged smoothness to it, a feel of true-to-lifeness that I have never seen in a game before. I can play both Skyrim and this game on ultra spec, and while Skyrim had impressive graphics, this game has a wildness to its landscape that feels so much more believable. The Witcher 2 is broken into chapters, and each chapter takes place in a different locale, each of which is a rather large and distinct expanse with new monsters, sites to see, caves and dungeons to explore, and characters to meet. It all feels absolutely wonderful and alive. The lighting effects cast light shafts around objects, thousands of blades of grass wave in the wind, the water flows in an eerily natural way, and the clothing, fabrics, rocks... everything looks absolutely believable and spot-on graphically. The game looks fantastic.
The voice acting is also of the highest quality. Each character feels unique and all of the banter around towns and villages is dynamic and changes with events, and it all sounds believable and completely natural. The monsters sound ferocious and the chatter of animals and beasts when out exploring gives an ambiance to the environments that feels alive and vivid. The music is typical fantasy orchestral, but with a dark overtone to it that sets the atmosphere really well.
In short, it's easy to go on and on about this game, but that takes away from the time I have to play it. If you're an RPG player, this is one you have to play. You just have to. The game plays like a charm. The combat, crafting, alchemy, and magic are a joy to play with, and the game looks and sounds otherworldly. I think this is one of the best single-player RPG's out there, and if you have the will to invest the time and understanding needed to get to know the characters and story, you'll find a mature and engrossing fairy tale that will leave you surprised again and again.