The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf Impressions

Polish developer CD Projekt is bringing The Witcher to consoles, and we got a first look at the game in action.

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When it launched at the end of last year, The Witcher was a must-buy for role-playing fans around the world. Since then, Polish developer CD Projekt has remained incredibly quiet--until this week, when rumours began to spread about the possibility of console versions of its PC hit. Thankfully this speculation proved to be true, as Atari announced the existence of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game at its London-based Atari Live showcase. We managed to corner CD Projekt at the event to take a look at its work, as well as find out what we can expect from the finished game.

The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf will tell the original Witcher story using new technology, and it will hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 in Q3 2009. The idea behind the port is to take the story of the original game and update most of the technology behind it, such as the control, animation, and combat systems. The challenge is to retain the strengths of the PC version while adapting the game to the consoles and their controllers--no easy feat, according to the development team. They promise that nothing will be lost in swapping the mouse and keyboard for a joypad, and they've come up with a context-sensitive system that allows different moves according to your character's situation.

Rise of the White Wolf will star the same platinum-haired lead character of Geralt, otherwise known as the eponymous Witcher. Witchers are a special breed of humans who have gone through mutations, and they boast increased speed, stamina, and regenerative capabilities. Geralt is different from other Witchers because he still has human emotions, and it's this facet of the character that leads to many of the moral decisions in the game. Good and evil isn't particularly clear-cut in this world, and the console versions of the game will offer three different endings depending on your actions.

The console versions are still a ways off from release, so the team was reluctant to show too much gameplay at this stage, but we managed to grab a look at one of their target renders. Basically a video clip running on a PC, the render is designed to show off the quality that the team hopes to achieve on consoles for the final release. It showed Geralt fending off a group of human soldiers with his sword, and the clip served to demo the dramatic camera angles and excessive violence we can expect. Geralt starts off by using magic to stun the group, and then unleashes fire magic to take out two of the guards. From there, it was all swordplay as he sliced limbs and heads off with relative ease. His finishing move was a four-hit combo unleashed by tapping the B button, and Geralt sliced and pushed the enemy around before slashing his throat in a shower of blood.

The team is confident about some of the console-specific features in Rise of the White Wolf, and brutally honest about what they're still working out. There will be Sixaxis support for some of the minigames on the PlayStation 3, while there'll obviously be achievements for Xbox 360 owners. There may also be specific content for each platform, although they haven't decided what yet, and they're not even certain if the DLC for the PC version will make it to consoles. Unfortunately, there won't be co-op play in either version, the team claiming that "we're yet to work out a way of making two Geralts."

The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf will be hitting the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Q3 next year, and we're bound to see more of it before then. Keep an eye on the site for more information as we get it.

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