The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Box Art
System: PC
Dev: CD Projekt RED STUDIO
Pub: Atari, CD Projekt
Release: May 17, 2011
Players: 1
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.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot

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.

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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.

By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
5.0
Graphics
The Witcher 2's graphics are some of the best ever seen in an RPG—a shining example of what can be done with an engine built for the PC from the ground up.
3.7
Control
The control scheme is strong and customizable, but could sometimes be more reactive to command entry.
4.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent sound design and quality English voice acting, marred only by a lack of volume consistency between VA performances, particularly an overly-quiet Geralt.
4.5
Play Value
The game's length is meaty without overstaying its welcome. A major choice in Chapter I completely diverges the storyline, so a second playthrough can explore a very different story.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • An engrossing and mature storyline defines new standards for realistic, non-linear game narration. The continued adventures of Geralt of Rivia build on events from The Witcher while proving even more captivating, epic surprises.
  • A unique, deep, consistent and expansive game world based on the one described by 'Andrzej Sapkowski in his seven-book series and recreated in the game to provide the ultimate, sophisticated player experience, believable characters, and a charismatic main hero.
  • An enhanced and deeper role-playing experience: extensive non-linearity, quests deeply linked with the core storyline, expansive character development, traditional system of fixed and balanced opponent strength maximizing player satisfaction deriving from XP gains, advanced crafting mechanics, weapons and armor, a redesigned and user-friendly interface, and more.
  • Unique, intuitive combat system, blending a wide range of tactical elements with the most spectacular and dynamic combat sequences ever seen in a computer role-playing game.

  • Videos / Game Trailers
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Debut Teaser - click to enlarge
    Debut Teaser
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Dev Diary: The Beginning - click to enlarge
    Dev Diary: The Beginning
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Cave Armory Cinematic - click to enlarge
    Cave Armory Cinematic
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - GC 2010: Trailer - click to enlarge
    GC 2010: Trailer
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Love and Blood Launch Trailer - click to enlarge
    Love and Blood Launch Trailer

    Screenshots / Images
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Screenshot - click to enlarge

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