The Assassins of Kings...
Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to CD Projeckt Redís first Witcher game, set in the universe created by Polish author: Andreas Sapskowsi, following the adventures of one Geralt of Rivia, a monster-hunter by trade known as a Witcher. This is a fantastic game that could well be described as one of the most engrossing PC fantasy RPGís of the modern age and itís certainly one of the most mature.Story
Without giving too much away here, Witcher 2 takes place after the key ending events of the Witcher, with Geralt now at the side of King Foltest of Temeria and involved with the kingís beautiful advisor and sorceress, Triss Merigold. Triss and Geralt have been good friends for quite a while, but now theyíre definitely more than that. Events are unfolding behind the scenes though that will shape the face of the world and change things for good. Geralt is unable to avoid these and his life will be vastly altered.
Big warning: There are key moments in Witcher 2 that will take the game down vastly different paths, so you need to play the game several times to see all the content and weíre not talking just a few changes in dialogue here, weíre talking vastly different locations, new NPCs, new quests and a whole new feel to the storyline as events change for the better or worse.Gameplay
Witcher 2 has come a long way from the Aurora Engine powered first game; itís now got its own engine: the RED Engine. The game is a third person action RPG with a mature storyline and a specific morality system that changes the way the game plays out, as well as various tweaks to the ending. Designed primarily for the PC, the game does allow you to use a gamepad, being mapped to the 360 pad interestingly enough. Rumours of the game coming to the 360 were rife when I first started playing this, but I wanted to give the Witcher 2 a good play on both sides of the main story choices before I rendered my verdict, so thatís why itís taken so long and the 360 is getting a version of the game.Exploration/Quests
Exploration in Witcher 2 takes you though some fantastically designed environments, from towns and cities to a large expansive open forest and other areas. You can pick up various loot and craft items but you donít need everything, if you try and hoard in this game youíll run out of weight allocation and youíll find that you need to be careful with your inventory management. You can talk to various NPCs, get side quests and follow up on your Witcher monster hunting contracts (though there are not as many of these as there were in the first game).
The game has a nested dialogue system that is similar to the first game, though there are a few changes. In many of the dialogues you can attempt to use persuasion, brute force and even the Witcher Sign (magic) Axii to change the outcome of the conversation, persuading in a very Jedi-like way certain enemies to back off and leave before a fight breaks out. There are also some timed conversations that give you a choice and a limited window in which to make it.
Then there are the mini-games, Dice Poker, Arm Wrestling and Fist Fighting are some of the diversions that Geralt can engage in and their mechanics are fairly well explained in the gameís journal. Dice Poker remains similar to the first game, Arm Wrestling requires careful movements of the mouse to keep your cursor in the right sweet spot and win. Fist Fighting is a QTE event that is fairly easy to win as long as you keep an eye on the keys that pop up on the screen and hit them at the right time.
There are also QTEís for many of the gameís more important events; you can turn a lot of these off in the menu if youíre not fond of Quick Time Events in general, though some of them are still active for certain boss battles and scenes.
There is a plethora of stuff to find in Witcher 2, from unique NPCs to hidden weapons and items (armour especially) that will alter the stats and in some cases survivability of Geralt in combat. There are numerous hidden locations to explore and the game isnít a linear affair by far. Yes the story has a progression of how you get from A to B at any given chapter, but there are lots of twists and turns that drive the narrative onwards and you feel far more of a key player in this epic sprawling fantasy than most other games.
Geralt can also take advantage of the crafting and upgrade system in the game, gaining access to traps, lures (for monster hunting) and bombs to make tactical use of the new combat system. He can also have new weapons crafted for battle and gain new armours this way as well, since many of the key monsters defeated offer parts that can be used in alchemy and crafting.
A Witcher is also an alchemist and this is where the broad list of ingredients and formulae come in, you can find them or earn them from quests. You can buy them from shops or win them in mini-games. Then once armed with the knowledge you can meditate and mix potions, drinking them prior to combat to induce a wide variety of effects. Many of these potions are highly toxic to humans and will kill them instantly, but you are not human. Witchers are mutated humans and they can metabolise things that would kill a mere man or woman.
Every potion has a toxicity level and you can drink several together, just donít overdo it.