|Dev: CD Projekt RED STUDIO|
|Pub: Atari, CD Projekt|
|Release: May 17, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs|
The few rough edges in The Witcher 2, however, are easily forgotten due to the sheer delight that the game's full experience provides. It is, quite frankly, a gorgeous game, lovingly rendered with some of the best graphics ever seen in an RPG. Craggy castles, lush forests, murky swamps, rural villages, and stately cities are all rendered in impressive detail and look great even below "ultra" graphical settings. The models are excellent and full of character, especially Geralt, who manages to look like a man described as both frightening and irresistible. Characters both beautiful and ugly have been lovingly detailed, from the overdone makeup of a brothel madam to the droopy man-boobs of a flabby fist-fighter.
The sound design backs up the game's visual atmosphere, especially the ambient sounds. The villages sound busy and bustling, and random villagers have an impressive amount of ambient dialog. When exploring dangerous locations, the grunting and rustling of monsters in the distance constantly reminds the player that Geralt is not alone. The voice acting is thankfully well-done, lending credence to the game's writing, which is good but not always top-notch. Extra acclaim should be given to the voice actors of the game's dwarven characters, who bring that earthy, gleefully profane race to life and provide some of the game's most amusing moments without toppling fully into stereotype.
Only a few small criticisms can be leveled at The Witcher 2's aesthetics. Some conversational animations still look a bit stiff, a problem that no game has yet managed to overcome. There's a lack of diversity in the game's young female characters, who seem almost uniformly thin and good-looking until they suddenly morph into fat baggy grandmas. Soundwise, another pass of volume control could be used on the voice acting, especially since Geralt is sometimes so quiet that subtitles are practically required. It should be understood, however, that these are very small nitpicks of an incredibly well-designed and executed fantasy world that stands at the top of the RPG genre.
The Witcher 2 is a meaty game, and any playthrough that isn't completely rushed should take at least thirty hours. Most gamers will probably take forty to sixty hours, depending on how many sub-quests are taken on and how much exploration is done. There is already a free downloadable side quest available for the game, and developer CD Projekt promises that future DLC will be free as well. The large number of meaningful choices provides a great deal of replay value, and most players will want to keep a save game before the Act I choice in order to experience the biggest choice-based storyline difference. It's an impressive amount of value for the price, and the game will keep most players busy for quite some time.
It's difficult to fully emphasize how immersive and impressive The Witcher 2 is. With their second game, CD Projekt has become the new champion of the Western RPG genre, blending a complex yet compelling story featuring truly impactful role-playing choices with a near-perfectly executed world. Other developers will likely be looking to The Witcher 2 for inspiration for years to come, and no fan of the Western role-playing genre should miss this game. Stop making excuses, RPG fans, and go upgrade that computer. This game is worth it.
CCC Contributing Writer