The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Review for PC

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Review for PC

A Worthy Remake

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was a great game that didn’t get the sort of recognition it could have because it was a PC exclusive. However, now the game gets to show itself off to console gamers with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition. Does the game still appeal to the console crowd, or does its PC pedigree alienate it from other AAA console blockbusters?

Not much has changed in the Enhanced Edition. In fact, if you’ve never heard of The Witcher 2 before, you should check out our review of the PC version before deciding whether this is a game for you. In terms of core gameplay and story, the Enhanced Edition is nearly identical. It’s a rich, forty-to-sixty-hour experience with a large number of meaningful gameplay choices that make each playthrough different. You’ll enjoy the game’s crafting system, character development, and story, and you’ll spend hours searching for loot just to outfit the perfect character. It’s dark, it’s controversial, and it’s just a well-made western RPG. Long story short, it’s good.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Screenshot

One of the high points of The Witcher 2 on the PC was the graphics engine, and the fact that CD Projeckt got this game to run on the ancient Xbox hardware is nothing short of amazing. The Xbox version is, unfortunately, the uglier of the two versions. There is a huge loss in resolution and textures are noticeably blurry. Animations are less fluid than in the PC version, which is a problem because the PC version’s animations were stiff to begin with. Nowhere can this be seen more than in the facial animations. It may just be that the game is showing its year-old age, but character movements strike me as some of the worst of any current day AAA Xbox title. It doesn’t really ruin the game, but it does take you out of the experience at times.

Luckily, much of the rest of the game is still incredibly pretty. Environments, though less detailed than the PC version’s, are still absolutely gorgeous. The lighting effects are noticeably turned down, but they are still more impressive than most other games on the console. Characters models are incredibly intricate, right down to tiny chinks in individual soldiers’ armor. Once again, while the textures are certainly blurrier and there’s noticeable graphical loss, the attention to detail is still there. Compare Enhanced Edition to any other recent Xbox 360 RPG. It’s still prettier than Dragon Age II or Fallout: New Vegas, and I’d even say it gives Mass Effect a run for its money.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Screenshot

The gameplay hasn’t changed much though. Granted, the game has been altered to fit a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse, but this actually doesn’t affect much of the core gameplay. Sure, it means certain things, like quick-saving, require a finicky amount of menu traversal, but you can still attack and cast spells at the push of a button. In fact, I’d say that the controller-based control scheme makes certain things feel more natural. Movement, for example.

And speaking of saving, auto-saves seem to be much less frequent in Enhanced Edition than they were in the original Witcher 2. They are awkwardly spaced at best and unreliable at worst. This can be alleviated with saving your game early and often, but this feels like a chore due to the game’s menu system. Still, it’s better than the alternative: replaying hours of progress because the game didn’t feel like what you did was important enough to auto-save.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Screenshot

Using a controller to manage your items and equipment is, unfortunately, rather infuriating. Your inventory gets clogged quickly, and while the PC version allows you to manage everything in a few short clicks, you’ll be doing the menu dance for a while in Enhanced Edition. Of course, then you find a new item of some sort and you have to do it all over again. The game introduces a new way to store your items, and this is certainly an improvement over the original PC version, but it’s still more finicky than I would have liked.

A new tutorial has been added to The Witcher 2 since its original PC release, and it feels like it was designed specifically for the modern console market. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to help out most people. Slip up once and you’ll die before you even realize what’s happening. Enhanced Edition is still unforgiving in its difficulty curve, just like the original. As it stands, the tutorial just serves to break up the intro to the game, and, as a result, it feels kind of out of place.

Enhanced Edition is on the level of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls in terms of its difficulty, much like the original. However, I never seemed to notice when I was playing on my PC. The control scheme for the console version isn’t bad, but it is easier to find yourself messing up when using a controller, as opposed to the precision of a keyboard and mouse. This will make you feel as if you are fumbling into death on more than one occasion, but it’s a frustration that soon passes.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Screenshot

However, the real reason to get Enhanced Edition is all the additional content. In a way, Enhanced Edition is like a Game of the Year edition and a mini-sequel at the same time. It includes all previously launched DLC for the Witcher 2, and that’s quite an impressive catalogue. It also includes an arena combat mode, which does away with much of the story and simply asks you to survive wave after wave of enemies. In terms of brand new content, the Witcher 2 includes a brand new CGI intro, and many between-chapter cinematics that flesh out the story. There is also a ton of new end-game content that fits in with the existing game quite nicely, and the ending drops hints about what we might be able to look forward to in The Witcher 3, should it ever come to pass.

Should you buy the Enhanced Edition if you have already purchased The Witcher 2? That’s a tough question. The additional content is appealing. If you haven’t played the Witcher 2 yet, then Enhanced Edition is a definite must-buy. The Witcher 2 was one of the best western RPGs on the PC last year, and the Enhanced Edition just gives you more content while opening up the game to the console masses. However, you simply can’t deny that it pales in comparison to the PC version in many ways. If you are a dedicated PC gamer, get The Witcher 2 on PC, which includes all of the Enhanced Edition content in a free patch anyway. Otherwise, pick up the Enhanced Edition on your 360.

Overlooking the fact that the graphics pale in comparison to the PC version’s, the character models and environments are still a pleasure to look at. 3.6 Control
The control scheme is basic but it works. You can access your spells quickly, which is about all we need here. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
If there’s anything that hasn’t changed much in this new version, it’s the sound and music. 4.4 Play Value
If you haven’t played The Witcher 2 yet, then you should probably pick up Enhanced Edition for your Xbox 360. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
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:

  • Sequel to the acclaimed 2007 PC RPG, The Witcher, now allows Xbox 360 play as well.
  • A complex, expansive, and mature adventure with a non-linear story in which every decision may have grave consequences.
  • Experience an exceptionally realistic, vast game world, teeming with its own life and distinct locations.
  • Spectacular, dynamic, brutal combat system featuring numerous tactical options such as real-time interactive moves, ranged weapons, traps and bait, and non-lethal attacks.
  • Exclusive bonus items available only in this Special Edition of the game.

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