The Witcher 2 is a game that is widely renowned for, well everything. For months, publications like G4 and IGN where talking about how great this is. Even some of my friends where talking this game up. As some of you common readers may know about me, I expect a lot from a game that advertises itself as an RPG. My views on Skyrim being an average title and how Mass Effect has not been an RPG since the first one; I have been told The Witcher 2 blows these games out of the water. Now that the hype has died down (and so has the price) I have gotten a chance to sit down and play the game.
I would like to start off saying that I can appreciate the idea that The Witcher 2 is trying to convey in the gameplay, setting, and storytelling. These are things that the game itself has been highly praised on. I have found little good in The Witcher 2 and I begin to question the sanity of people who praise this title. I played it on the Xbox 360 and the Enhanced Edition was supposedly “Enhanced” to be formatted to consoles. As many people know, RPGs on PC play very differently compared to consoles due to the control scheme and how one browses menus.
I would like to start off with my biggest issue, the gameplay. The combat system is downright terrible. It is a clunky mess with response problems and broken mechanics. While I can appreciate the “realism’ in the combat, this is a video game. I do not need realistic sword mechanics when it comes to blocking. The lock-on system is utterly useless because once you are locked onto an enemy; another one has shown up behind you and you can’t stop blocking to prevent damage. Of course, this is what the dodge button is for. Many games with action oriented gameplay incorporate this mechanic and many do it well. The Witcher 2 is one of those games. This is quite possibly my only praise towards the gameplay.
Beyond the bad controls and boring combat system is the potion crafting system, the magic system, meditation, and the menu system. The potion crafting or alchemy system is not fleshed out and is borderline useless. Hell I am pretty sure I found more use for alchemy in TES IV. Sure you can create healing potions but that is all I would ever do. Even then, I would find better methods that took less effort. I question the actual purpose for it in the long run. Ah yes, the magic system. You can’t have a medieval RPG without MAGIC. Conveniently, this ties in with my issues with the menus and how much it irritates me because it is so darn unorganized.
While I understand the inclusion of magic in Witcher 2 because it fits into the setting, the execution is incredibly poor. It seems like everything in Witcher 2 revolves around quick select, and the magic is one of those things. There is nothing quick about selecting the magic. If you are too quick the game won’t register anything being selected so you are left with casting the wrong spell. To make sure something is selected you must slow your pace down, and make sure you have something correctly selected before exiting the menu. The magic suffers the most from this but selecting your other weapons also have this problem. In association with your extra weapons you have throwable and placeable items such and daggers and traps. These are also accessed from the “Quick Select” and the problem with the magic selection carries over. You want to select traps to lay down cunning trap for the unsuspecting enemies but you accidentally throw your dagger and alert the enemies.
Continuing with my menu issue, the colors of the standard menus are ugly and clash with the text color making it awkward to read and it slightly pains my eyes. Every little thing is hidden in different parts of the different tabs as well. You would think you would find daggers under weapons but they aren’t, they are under the throwables. Things like that make it very unappealing to look at and I just want something easy to read and organized. If I am filing something I will file it in the most straightforward way as possible to minimize space and required effort to search for something. The “meditiation” system is a glorified arrogant contrast to the “Wait” button for Bethesda RPGs. It is how you access many things like the alchemy or the wait option. It too is cluttered with unneeded menus and a desire to be visually pleasing. In summation, the menus are ugly, cluttered, and the information I stretched out. I find this to be rather clever of the developers to fool people into thinking the game has a lot to offer in terms of items when there really isn’t.
Oh cool, I am finally done talking about the crappy gameplay and stupid menus. Now I can move on to the sub-par features of Witcher 2. The story and storytelling would be pretty solid if they had good voice actors that did not sound like Robocop. The dreadfully fake accents mixed with boring dialogue really kill the mood. At this moment I would wonder if knowledge of what happened in the original game would come in handy, but they developers were kind enough to give you a recap of what happens after you complete the tutorial. Other than the dodging mechanic, the music is something else I was able to appreciate. It was pretty generic for the atmosphere of the game but it was still nice to listen to.
The Witcher 2 is a game that failed to come even close to a playable RPG. The bad controls, bad voice acting and bland lazy writing is what really killed the game. It is a shame; this game had a lot of potential. You can pick it up on PC and Xbox 360.
2 out of five nerds