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SummaryThe Witcher, a game you'll either love or hate. I love it.!
The GoodI'm no hardcore RPG fan but I can find myself playing the more traditional old school, dungeons and dragons like RPGs , some JRPGs and WRPGs. Based on a group of Polish novels The Witcher to me is one of the more modern like RPGs in the veins of Mass Effect minus the suckage. I played The Witcher back in 2007 and decided to try the Enhanced Edition which is as the named suggests enhanced. The Witcher is a Dark medieval fantasy set in a fictional world of Temeria. You play a Geralt a Witcher, which is a human undergone through mutation to achieve greater agility and powers with some side effects; Infertility is one example. They also do rely on potions. A witcher's job is to protect humans from monsters that lurk the regions for a fee. The Witcher has a very dark and gritty story and setting. It deals with many mature topics such as racism, drugs, rape, sex and bringing many out of place modern day swear words to the medieval age. Geralt is interesting to me as I like the antihero character. He's also one of the few characters in the game that is voiced very well. He makes good use of his infertility by banging a lot of women in the game without protection for some baseball cards. What's awesome about this game is that it also focuses on other characters giving you some really fun and interesting side quests which are very important for RPGs.
The game opens with a lengthy but impressive FMV. In between cut scenes have some well placed camera work. And my favorite are the cut scenes narrated by Geralt with just still Hand painted pictures, they tend to come at the right moments making the story telling even better. There are moments of the game where you do make critical choices which affects how the game plays out. For example choosing to kill or save a witch after having hot occultic sex with her.
The landscapes and cities are rendered beautifully using a modified version of the Bioware Aurora engine. Got to love the water effects, foliage, day-night cycle and the details here and there. The game can be colorful and gritty at the same time. And in the Enhanced Edition it's much better moving around from area to area as the loading time has improved greatly. You'll see people walking around, chit chatting in the day and only guards and homeless people around in the night, gives the feeling of life and realism in the world.
There are some awesome concepts in here. The point and click combat has a twist of using a timed click to string attacks together. You have 3 different fighting styles; strong, fast and group. Using your judgment you'll know which is better for what enemy. Another cool fundamental is the whole steel sword for human and silver sword for monster. Not entirely groundbreaking or original stuff here but at least it works. Worth mentioning you can play with just a mouse or mouse+keyboard combination. And view with an Isometric camera which most RPGs use or Over the shoulders in similar veins to Tomb Raider or Gears of War.
Alchemy plays an important role, allowing you to brew potions, blade coating oils and bombs using a base and ingredients which can be found or purchased and gathered from plants and monsters. The Witcher has a much more stripped character development system. Where many games make you level up stats and then skill, it's unified here. Less technical than, say a Bioware RPG but much more accessible.
One thing you cannot deny is the music is freaking awesome. Whether it's the ambient like tunes, the music during battles or the creepier stuff. Everything is epic and moody. Perfection in this part.
The BadWhile some of the animations seem good, the flow of them is really stiff. Also you'll notice that the character models are rehashed even some key characters like Declan. The monsters can tend to be just re-textured models. Can you tell the difference between a Drowner and a Drowned Dead? As for the location, the swamps is rather dull and uninspired. Fighting the constantly spawning monsters can get boring. What sucks is that if you want to enter a cave or exit the area and if there's a monster on your tail you'll have to defeat it to interact with anything.
Late game you'll tend to find frustrating as there's a lot of running about; and running between different areas can be annoying as you have to go through loading screens. The clichéd endgame is a disappointment; the typical return to city, it's under flames, people are going crazy, you're fighting hundreds of enemies.
The voice acting ranges from good to average. Mostly the civilians and small role characters have suitable voice overs. As for key characters Geralt's deep booming voice is superb and fitting. Dandelion, Zoltan Vincent and Siegfried were decent enough. But damn Trish has a strong American accent, the rest were pretty average like Carmen for example.
The combat system while it works it tends to wear thin by the end of the game. It's not the combat systems fault though it's that the game throws enemies at you at random in certain areas rather than being well thought out. So switching between swords, styles and constantly clicking becomes a chore. There are some useless magic powers too. Besides the knockdown one and the Igni (fire) spell I wasn't using any other of the 3. They were just fillers and I hate it when designers put these fillers in just to add quantity to a game.
For many the start of the game doesn't really tell you how you need to get about things. For example collect 10 drowner tongues, you need to have drowner tongues entry in your journal. It doesn't mention that you need to read books, scrolls or tales from locals to get entries about a monster, ingredients and herbs in the journal. I've seen many complain about this so I thought it's worth mentioning.
Okay now a screw up I think I should mention. Sometimes when you're engaging monsters you may accidentally click on another character who you can talk to. It goes into the dialogue cutscene with the monsters waiting like dumbf**ks for you to finish. I think this is quite embarrassing for the developers.
The Enhanced edition comes with 2 new stories which you can play and I couldn't even stand one of them for 10 minutes.