This review has been a long time coming. As I sit here with my copy of The Witcher 2: Enchanced Edition for the Xbox 360 laying across the desk next to me, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. It’s a title that I now look back fondly on as it drew me into a world like no other that I have experienced.
Many know that The Witcher 2: Enchanced Edition is by no means a ‘new’ game. In fact it’s more of a remastering of a classic but by releasing this on the Xbox 360, CD Projekt RED has obtained an entirely new audience of video game players.
In terms of plot and setting The Witcher 2 is exactly the same as its PC sibling. You follow the adventures and exploits of Geralt of Rivea, also fearfully known as the White Wolf. A man of cunning wit, strong ability and a disposition towards sexual encounters, Geralt is by no means a boring leading man. At the beginning of your adventure you are in service to King of Temeria but you quickly go from trusted advisor to condemned traitor when you are framed for his murder. From this point on your goal, in one form or another, is to try and find the individual responsible.
The Witcher 2 draws from the Medieval Fantasy end of the spectrum when it comes to overarching themes with a special emphasis on the political standings of its denizens. For those who enjoy meddling in such affairs it’s a title that gives you all the abilities to shape the world however you desire. Choice is the core gameplay element here regardless of whether that’s in reference to the world you inhabit, the growth of your character or the people that you choose to develop relationships with.
For a title that has been ported to the Xbox 360 from a PC there has been little sacrifice in bringing it completely from pc to console. In some aspects such as the HUD there are much welcome simplification and changes to its elements.
Choosing your combat abilities is a simple as holding the left shoulder button on your controller to see a modal menu, which slows down gameplay while you select signs, weaponry or off handed tools and mechanisms. Combat has been translated to the controller exceedingly well. Every single form of interaction has been successfully applied in a logical fashion making for easy control.
The menu system of The Witcher series has always been a veritable library worth of reading. This hasn’t changed, but navigating through these screens is now a much more simple affair. Upon opening the menu screen you can easily switch between inventory, skills, quest log and your map using the shoulder buttons on the controller making The Witcher 2 a very accessible title. It’s a great solution to a common problem with PC to console ports.
Graphically The Witcher 2 can be viewed from a rather unique perspective. Compared to the PC original the Xbox version is not as visually robust. Now this isn’t to say that this isn’t a title that’s easy on the eyes. In fact it’s quite the opposite as The Witcher 2 is one of the most graphically stunning games currently on the Xbox 360. Environments are large and detailed. Character models are realistic, believable and have a way of making you care about the plights of the denizens.
The soundtrack fits in well with its setting. Orchestral scores with an obvious medieval influence serve to further immerse you in the world. It’s worth purchasing simply to sit and listen to. The voice acting is emotionally charged with returning voice actors from the first PC title. Delivery of the characters voices will affect your choices and make you question those that you have already made. There’s no doubt there has been much thought and detail embedded into creating these characters. They can’t be simply categorized. Each has a personal agenda behind their eyes that isn’t necessarily obvious.
The Witcher 2 is a title that Xbox 360 owners have been waiting for. It’s a title that will pull you into a complicated world where you play a pivotal part in its future. How you shape the world is up to you. Your choices might not be necessarily wrong, but who said they would be right either? The Witcher 2 is available now on Xbox 360.