Blog » It's a good day to kill, your majesty!

Remember the good old days of PC RPGs? When game boxes were stuffed with extra material and each title begged you to upgrade your system? CD Projekt certainly does, as The Witcher 2 feels like it dropped out of a time capsule from 2002. It’s quite a nostalgia trip, but you’d better bring a sickness bag, because you’ll quickly remember why we traded art books and soundtrack CDs for games that spent a few more months in quality assurance.

These are the docks of... someplace, which is ruled by... I forget. Sir Blah of Dullsville?

In his review for Alone in the Dark, Yahtzee imagines a conversation between two game developers named Terry and Gonad. Designer Terry presents the game’s good ideas, while programmer Gonad ruins them with terrible execution. The Witcher 2’s lofty aspirations are similarly grounded by poor implementation. Since I don’t have a video series nor a snarky British accent, I’ll do this with a regular HTML table.

This awesome feature… is ruined because…
The regular $50 box comes with a soundtrack, behind the scenes DVD, map, papercraft and special coin It has an activation code with no number/letter filters, letting you confuse the number one with the letter "i" and zero with the letter "o"
The game can be played without a disc in the drive Its mandatory Internet activation failed for three hours during launch day
The launcher lets you set lots of graphical options There's no simple explanation of what each one does nor which will affect the framerate the most
You don't need to be continuously online while playing You must suffer through five little videos thanking the developer, publisher, nVidia, and other technology partners every time you start the game
The main menus are attractive and feature good typography Every menu item must have a title and subtitle, leading to hilarious entries like "NEW GAME/Start a new game" and "OPTIONS/Adjust game options"
No confusing character creation at the beginning of the game It opens with four pages of text on a pointless cloudy background with lots of hard-to-remember names and places that seem important but probably aren't
Starts the same as the first game: Geralt the amnesiac being pursued through a forest and falling unconscious Lulz, that was just a dream: you're actually being tortured in prison for a crime you don't learn about for two hours
Geralt's a ruggedly handsome guy from the neck up His body is an absolute mess of scars, somewhere between The Passion of the Christ and The Amateur Crocodile Hunter
Great voice acting, with appropriately regal kings, treacherous elves and bored workaday stiffs No matter the circumstance, Geralt speaks with the kind of dispassionate voice that would make JC Denton scream at him to emote
Beautiful graphics and landscape scenery, with clever use of skyboxes to make the game world seem huge Facial hair on characters looks absurd, like they glued cellophane shrubbery to their chin
Original door opening sounds (pet peeve of mine) The background audio is on a short loop, making me wish for a BB gun so I could shut those freaking birds up
Every NPC wandering the streets has a name, and you can click on them to talk Good luck getting a non-plot NPC to say more than "huh" or "go away"
Combat is more fun and realistic, while Geralt no longer holds his sword in the stupidest possible pose Hope you can learn the intricacies of a real-time combat system by reading popup windows, because there's no true combat tutorial
Magic is helpful and easy to use during combat Trial and error is the only way to find out what the spells do
All six magic signs are available from the start Nobody tells you that the shield spell is the only way to survive the massively unfair six-on-one fights
Cool fatality animations trigger randomly during combat Enemies are really good at hitting you the millisecond that animation ends
You can use your magic to turn off torches You'll be turning off torches during dreaded stealth sections, but at least the guards are easy to fight when you get caught
Conversations with NPCs have more subtlety than "good/neutral/evil" The choices you pick are listed in no particular order and are occasionally timed for no adequate reason
Moral choices are more complicated than Fable's ludicrous Mother Theresa vs. Baby Eating decisions The moral choices are so subtle that it's often difficult to tell whether you're just exploring a conversation tree or about to send someone to their doom
Crafting system lets you make your own weapons and armor, with easy to understand recipes and ingredients Buying missing ingredients from shopkeepers is heinously expensive
Free day one DLC You can't download it because their servers are apparently powered by Gameboy Advance

So that’s The Witcher 2. It’s a beautiful mess, and your only hope for a non-linear RPG until Skyrim comes out. If you’re going to buy this before the first eighteen patches come out, I wish you luck. Just remember that to die for Temeria is to die a good death!