If you remember my Witcher review from 2007, on the 30th of October, you will probably recollect that I really did like the game. I found the Witcher to be a breath of fresh air in a pretty stagnant genre that was lumped in with various Square-cloned J-RPGs and cheap imitations of Diablo and Baldur's Gate. Overall the game was met with a sterling response from my peers in the gaming press and only a few people truly disliked the game.
Now it's the 23rd of September 2008 and I am looking at my own personal copy of the Witcher Enhanced Edition, since Atari once again have failed to provide one and since I did the original review just like this, it seems fitting that once more I'll be taking a look at the EE whilst we wait for Atari to hopefully ship ours. The only reason that I'm doing this (which I very rarely do) is that I believe the Witcher deserves all the press it can get.
So, if you need to refresh your memory you can find my original review here at The Witcher Review
I really didn't think that they could make the game any better than it was; I secretly hoped that they could of course. I was proven wrong, oh, so wrong. Over the last year CD Projekt RED have taken one of the greatest RPGs of 2007 and re-vamped it to such an extent that it feels like a different game. I doubt it will win over the likes of those who disliked it the first time around, since to them RPGs are fundamentally flawed whether they feature real time combat, turn based battling or none of the above.
The Witcher Enhanced Edition is available as a box set packed with goodies, DVD features and two CD's worth of soundtracks that are superb. I could go on about these alone being worth the price of the retail box, but for anyone who owns the Witcher you can simply download everything from the EE off the community site.
The meat and potatoes of the EE is however in the upgrade and the re-recorded dialogue re-written English script, over 5000 lines of redone voice acting brings the world closer to the original vision that some people were lucky enough to experience. Most of my gripes with the voice acting from the last version have been thrown out of the window and even Geralt sounds better. There are still a few bits of dialogue that don't quite sit right with me and some deliveries from the NPCs could have been better still.
These are minor niggles in what has now become, essentially, one of the best RPGs of all time.
There is a wealth of language/subtitle options to choose from in the game, enough to support all the language/region choices you could desire. Want to play the game in English but with newly recorded German voice overs, you can!
There are numerous tweaks and changes to the game, some of them are purely cosmetic and add an extra layer of variety in the Witcher, and some were extremely important and needed from the start. I can't help feeling that if this level of game had been released back in 2007 then I could have scored the Witcher so much higher and most people would have agreed with me.
The inventory has been redone, there now a separate alchemy sack, a filter for the various kinds of ingredients and in both the normal inventory and the alchemy inventory the developers have added a couple of stacking buttons, one click stacks all your items and saves you having to mess around. This little addition makes it so much easier to work with.
The developers have improved the game stability; it runs silky smooth on XP with only a few CTDs on Vista. Fortunately with the improved loading times (at least by 80%) and improved saving times, this isn't too much of a bugbear and Vista is a strange beast that requires coaxing from time to time. So I can't really blame the game since it's flawless for me on both XP machines.
They have also improved the game's visuals, by making a greater variety of NPCs and even monster types. No longer will you be attacked by six of the same drowner, with a few extra skins the developers have transformed the most hum-drum monsters into a fresh and interesting encounter.
Dialogue scenes were another bug-bear of mine, the NPC interactions started to seem a little flat after a while with little or no actual animation from either Geralt or those he sought to converse with. CD Projekt RED have fixed that and added over 200 new gesture animations for the dialogues that make them seem much more natural and certainly more dynamic.
The Witcher EE also comes with two brand new adventures, The Price of Neutrality and Side Effects, both of these add substantial replay-ability and longevity to an already massive game. Not content with that CD Projekt RED have bundled in the latest version of their D'jinni Adventure Editor to allow you to make your own adventures using any of the assets from the game.
The weather system has been vastly improved as well, it feels more natural and the progression from clear days to rainy stormy days isn't as harsh. Overall with these slew of fixes and improvements I can feel quite confident in rescoring the Witcher Enhanced Edition and say that this is probably the most complete edition of an rpg you're going to find anywhere on the face of the planet.
If you're a fan of the Witcher's world or someone looking for a mature and gritty dark fantasy world. Look no further than this edition of the game. You can get all the bonus materials from the website if you have an original copy of the first release or you can go out and buy it again and support the fine folks at CD Projekt RED who have busted their backsides since the game first came out to bring the gamers what they wanted, a new version of the Witcher with forum suggested tweaks and changes.