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CD Projeckt’s Witcher 2 got some pretty high praise when released on PC last year. With all the DLC, more content and a revised graphics engine for the 360 release, is this a powerhouse conversion or a dull port?

Posted by Staff on Apr 24, 2012 14:14 (Apr 24, 2012 14:14)

Written by: Ian
CD Projeckt’s "The Witcher 2" got some pretty high praise when released on PC last year. With all the DLC, more content and a revised graphics engine for the 360 release, is this a powerhouse conversion or a dull port?
Plenty of videos, dev diaries and articles have stressed the work that has gone in, but is this just marketing BS?
You can tell even with the story how much work has gone on behind the scenes. The EE (Enhanced Edition) includes all of the previous DLC, as well as some all-new missions, that represent apparently 4-5 hours of new content since the game was first released. Amazingly, I had to look up what was new and what was original, such is the seamless blending into the narrative. Much of the work has gone into chapter 3 though, which was previously a little sparse in comparison to the other 2 major acts.
The game also now starts with a lavish 3- minute CGI movie, which is magnificent, and helps bring some more sense to the early scenes. Suffice to say, your quest to bring back your memories, find the kingslayer, and recover your loved ones is fantastic. On top of this, your moral choice at the end of the first act (and to a lesser extent the second) will affect how you progress through the game and what quests are available. It’s worth playing through twice just to see the different outcomes.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition X360 screenshot #1
The Witcher 2 in original form supported gamepads, but it was an awkward combination that never quite worked, especially when in the menus. Thankfully the controls and interfaces have both been given a thorough tidy-up. Geralt controls beautifully, with fluid and dynamic animation that puts Mass Effect to shame, whilst the combat mechanics are also excellent. Wading in all guns blazing will lead to a quick death, but less finesse is required than Dark Souls. Instead, you get an excellent system of blow, counter-blow and riposte, with a little magic thrown in, topped off with a delightful panache of traps and timed upgrades (both in the form of sword oils, and a fantastic alchemy system), to tip the balance in your favour. It should be said, that whilst some work was done to balance the difficulty, the game does become considerably easier the more you progress.
Not everything is perfect though. The game autosaves very infrequently, so you’ll need to remember to manually save quite a bit (there is no quick-save option either). And whilst the interface has been tidied up, it’s still quite plodding to scroll through the various categories and when it comes to selling items. Further improvements are needed here for the next game, as I definitely felt like I spent too long in menus by the end of the game. Given Mass Effect’s success, some Kinect support here would be interesting if it worked well.
The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition X360 screenshot #2
Throughout your quest, you end up in 4 large areas (plus the lengthy tutorial level), all of which apart from the first allow for a large degree of free-roaming. It’s an interesting system that allows for tighter storytelling than Skyrim, but yet doesn’t feel as linear as Mass Effect or Dragon Age 2.
Some people have been moaning about this online, but each area is huge, taking 5-10 minutes to cross on foot minimum, and is much more interesting than some of the sparser parts of Oblivion or Skyrim. Additionally navigation is sometimes a little obtuse, and the mini-map marker gives no indication of whether you are taking the right path, or of verticality, so finding objectives in buildings is based on blind luck as to which floor to try first. This is all the more annoying when most buildings load on a room-by-room basis.
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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Xbox 360

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3846. Dark Souls
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3847. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
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