The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

Witcher 2-box
9.8 Overall Score

Excellent story | Gorgeously detailed eye candy | Choices with real consequences

Takes a chunk of hard drive space for the suggested install | Some learning curve with the controls

Written by on April 14, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , , , ]

If you were to ask console gamers what their favorite action RPG game was last year, it’s a pretty safe bet the answer you’d get would be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Ask a PC gamer, though, and you might hear something different. While 360 owners were busy dodging arrows to the knee, PC gamers had another amazing fantasy game all to themselves with CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Now, WB Games and CD Projekt RED’s are bringing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition to the Xbox 360 with all the bells and whistles, including a year’s worth of game enhancements, new areas, new characters, new quests, and a host of other extra goodies.

The Witcher games are based on a series of stories by Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski. Players step into the role of Geralt of Rivia, one of the last of the specially trained “mutant” monster-hunters known as Witchers. Due to their training and procedures performed on them in their youth, Witchers possess a number of supernatural abilities.

At the end of the first game, Geralt stopped an assassination attempt on King Foltest of Temeria and discovers the assassin may have been a fellow Witcher. As Assassination of Kings opens up, we see Geralt being interrogated over the recent death of the king. After the events of the first game, Geralt was apparently hired on to protect the king from further attacks while investigating the source of the assassination attempt. Unfortunately, the king is killed before Geralt has a chance to stop the assassin. Blamed for the crime, Geralt is forced to go on the lam and find the real killer to clear his name, uncovering a grander conspiracy in the process.

The tagline for Witcher 2 reads, “A True Hero Forges His Own Story” and it’s more than just some pithy marketing fluff. From start to finish, you can’t help but get drawn into the story as it evolves based upon your choices. The decisions you make for Geralt have major consequences. In fact, the whole center act of the story plays out completely different based on one choice early on. Adding to the weight of the plot, the choices you make are never simple matters of black and white. The world of The Witcher operates in varying shades of grey. Seeing through Geralt’s eyes is a personal experience with emotional ties and by the end of the story, your tale will likely be vastly different from that of your friends.

One lingering concern some people had about bringing Witcher 2 from the PC to the 360 was the game’s controls. After all, most developers haven’t had the best of luck when scaling down from a standard 104-key computer keyboard to console controller. No worries here, though. The controls on the 360 version are smooth as silk. Something newcomers will have to keep in mind, though, is that Witcher 2 has never been a button masher, and the console version is no different. CD Projekt RED calls the combat system “tactical combat”, and it’s a fitting description. You’ll have to time your strikes and counters, mix things up between your two swords and magic abilities, and plan out just where and when to use extra goodies like daggers, traps, and bombs. At first, it can feel a little overwhelming, but before long you’ll be chaining moves together like a trained warrior.

As far as presentation goes, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is phenomenal. It’s a gorgeous looking world that’s full of life. You can see a huge amount of detail in the game, from the epic landscapes all the way down to the smallest scars marking Geralt’s years of battle. All this eye candy comes at a price though. If you try running Witcher 2 straight from the two discs, you’re going to run into a less than stellar experience. In order to get the most out of the game, you’ll have to sacrifice more than 14 gigs of real estate and install both discs onto your 360 hard drive. It might seem like a steep price if you don’t have a lot of space, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. Playing off of the hard drive gives the game faster load times and better data streaming, resulting in a gaming experience pretty darned close to the best the PC version has to offer.

Whether or not you’ve played the first game, or heck, even if you’ve never heard of The Witcher before now, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition deserves a top spot in your game library. It’s a mature, emotional, action-packed experience, and hands down, one of the best RPG experiences you’ll find on the 360.

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Author: David Chapman View all posts by

2 Comments on "The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition"

  1. ShinyMilburns April 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Best family game ever.

  2. David Chapman April 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I don’t think I ever called it a “family game”. That big M for Mature on the box would kinda preclude that … along with all those nifty qualifiers tacked on beside it.

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