Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Witcher - Full Review

Here's the latest reason no one has seen me lately. Technically speaking, I think The Witcher is quite awesome, hope you enjoy my review below.



The Witcher is a PC based RPG that was released in October 2007 and has received positive reviews from many sources. This game was quite gripping for me from its opening movie to the end, and has a lot to offer; soon into the game you’ll realize that this is not your everyday average joe RPG. There still remains the old rule of ‘talk to everyone you meet,’ but these standard elements of any game of this genre are outshined by the overall unique feel of the world that the game presents. The battle system is heavily based on combos and a small selection of upgradeable spells. Your choices when relating to the world’s characters will determine your fate as you progress, and you may find yourself split in twain more than once. These choices are the reasons why this game received a “Mature” ESRB rating. Let’s delve a little deeper into this dark world.

The story is absolutely involving from the very beginning. Since you (Geralt) have amnesia and can remember nothing when the game begins, everyone’s a stranger and it’s up to you to piece together the past. Contrary to other games of this genre, you have no choice of the character of your class; it is focused on the witcher and his spells and swords. Probably the most fascinating part of this story is your ability to choose sides. As you gather information from the townsfolk, you’ll begin to form your own opinion of certain characters you meet which will most likely shape your decisions later in the game. This gives the game a treacherous, realistic feel which will make you wonder what’s right or wrong or if either exists. The voice acting satisfied me for the most part, although some of it was a little amateurish, and the character models are way too overused. You’ll inevitably form your own opinions of the allies you make in the game but they’re definitely memorable.

The graphics are nothing to scoff at and while not quite achieving the resource hogging elements of games like Elder Scrolls, I was definitely immersed. You’re given 3 different perspectives to view the world, all third person but from different distances which will give you the ability to either feel the heat of battle up close or to quickly assess the situation on the battlefield from afar. Aside from being overused, the character models are realistic enough, facial expressions including. To view this all in full detail you may want a moderately fast PC and video card but you can always tone it down using the graphics options. Here are the system requirements:

Whores, verbal curses, alcohol, drugs, and nudity abound in this version of an RPG. This truly is a mature-oriented game but reflects the reality of how medieval times might have actually been. It’s tempting to lay down with every temptress you come across, though I noticed one or two points in the story where the decision to do so may have had negative consequences. Yes, there are hookers walking the streets that you can have your way with.

Now on to my favorite part which is game play. As a Witcher, Geralt uses two primary weapons: a steel sword for human flesh and a silver one for monsters. Through the adventure he’ll also pick up five different spells which all have their particular uses. These can all be upgraded using bronze, silver, and gold medallions which are awarded when you progress to each new level. This gives you some ability to customize you strengths and where you’d like to shine in battle. Most of the tougher battles will require you to use potions, and in fact you won’t finish the game without them. Because of this, you won’t find yourself upgrading your weapons very often and if you do, it’ll cost a hefty sum of orens (the game currency). You can also carry two secondary weapons, though I never found a real use for them as they were clunky compared to my swords. You’ll not be carrying around a lot of trash like enemy weapons to sell off to the store as you can only carry what you’re wielding. A lot of what happens in the game will be based on the quests that you find, and not all are required to finish the game, giving this one somewhat of an open ended feel. Unfortunately some of the quests are slightly bugged

The combat system in this game could make you giggle with glee or cry. When sword fighting, audible cues in combat tell you when to execute your next swing; the only problem with this is that you must have the mouse hovering over the monster. You inevitably will move during battle which turned out for me to be a disadvantage when my enemy disappeared behind another enemy, a bush, or other environmental object. Despite the sometimes offensive camera the combat is simply a lot of fun, considering the different modes of fighting (there are 3 stances Geralt can take- one for slow heavy hitting monsters, agile monsters, and one for groups) and spells at your disposal. Over time you learn how to best combine sword and magic to keep the enemy at bay. Go ahead and jam the hilt of your silver sword into that beast’s heart, you know you want to.

This was one of the least disappointing RPG’s I have ever played, and it kept me occupied for at least 60-70 hours (yep, the game is THAT big.) The solid story and mystery that is entwined is what kept me wanting to find out more about myself and the characters. Again, this game really does earn its “M” rating so if you’re easily offended, leave this one alone. From a graphical perspective the game does its job, though this isn’t going to be the reason why you’ll play it to the end, it’s the story and game play. These elements combined create a medieval, dark world where trust is hard to find. A new approach to the RPG genre, fans shouldn’t miss this one.

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