The Witcher 2
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Written by Josh Schilling
It takes a lot of guts to put out a fantasy game these days, and I’m not talking about the obvious spillage that normally occurs after a particularly vicious battle. There is truly a glut of titles out there in the video game market that includes the familiar dragons, elves, swords and various types of undead foes. Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, and of course the hugely popular Skyrim, along with an army of other fantasy titles all fit in this category, and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is one of the latest entries of this genre to elbow its way into the Xbox library. This game is a port from the PC title of the same name that is a sequel to the popular game The Witcher, but the Xbox version does include an “enhanced” edition of the game that adds a good deal of content over the original PC game that was released a year before the Xbox version.
The game-world is typical fantasy fare with thatched-hut dwelling peasants, grumpy dwarves and a vast array of non-human monsters that are constantly begging to be struck down by your sword. You traverse this world in a third-person style as the protagonist Geralt, a magically mutated, sword-wielding Witcher that uses his powers to kill, maim, and generally try and make enough scratch to have a decent living. It is extra difficult for him, as he is hated and feared due to his enhanced abilities, and in the eyes of the populace, he is begrudgingly seen as a necessary evil. Geralt is imprisoned early on in this game, and the main storyline has him attempting to resolve the issue that put him there. Along with other side missions, the amount of hours that can be played in this game are vast, and although the world is dark and depressing, the detail and character of the environment keep the game entertaining.
The Witcher 2 is a game that smacks you in the face with a fantastic plot, good character development and wonderful voice acting. The cut scenes don’t pound you into the ground like Metal Gear Solid, but they are plentiful, and most importantly, very useful in moving the story forward in a captivating way. There are some twitchy graphics issues at times, as well as a rather unfulfilling ending, but these deficiencies are outweighed by the story that evolves with the decisions that you make, and the gritty, flawed characters that make their marks throughout the game. A large factor that separates this game from other fantasy games is the degree of M rating that this one carries. I haven’t seen many games with full-on boob lately, unless you count the dead chicks in L.A. Noire, but this game gives you quite a few instances. Couple the nudity with loads of blood and heavy language, and you get one of the M-est of M rated games that I have ever played.
All in all, this is an immersive game that is well worth the time you put into it. It is rough, violent and fulfilling in all the ways that a good dark fantasy story should be. This game also sports one of the best opening cinematics that I have ever seen, as well as a plethora of easter eggs that gaming and fantasy know-it-alls will particularly enjoy. It seems that this game is flying under the radar a bit as far as the gaming consciousness goes, but any serious fantasy fan would do well to give this one a spin.
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