Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review

Kid Safe: Very Low (1.0 / 10)                           Game Quality: High (8.5 / 10)

Genre: Action/Adventure Role-Playing Game
-          As an Action/Adventure title, players will adventure and fight their way through the world while also finding alternate means of completing their tasks including battles, negotiation, and puzzle solving. Likewise, as a role-playing game, players will are able to create and developer their own unique character based on the decisions they make.

Internet Requirements: Low
-          Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings features a low amount of internet requirements and can generally be enjoyed without any connection to the internet. The only reason someone might want or need to use the internet is to acquire "downloadable content" in order to add extra gameplay hours to this title.

Story Summary: In Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, you take control of Geralt of Rivia, a professional
monster hunter in a fantasy world of kings, swords, and creatures, who has been framed for the murder of the king was once sworn to protect. Seeking to redeem his name and catch the killer responsible, you follow Geralt as he adventures through treacherous land and meet humans, elves, dwarves, and the hordes of vicious creatures which seek to make you their late-night snack. Will you be able to survive your hunt, find the killer, and bring justice to your the fallen throne?

Kid Safe: Very Low (1.0 / 10)
-          Foul Language: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Witcher 2 features a very high amount of foul language in the form of the following words: "s*it", "a*s", "a*se", "f*ck", "b*tch", "c*nt", "p*ss", "b*stard", and "w*ore". These words very common throughout both cutscenes and gameplay from just about every character in the game; being heard regularly throughout dialogue amongst characters. This language is used in a variety of fashions and will be heard without any extensive provocation such as extreme anger or frustration.

-          Violence and Gore: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Witcher 2 features a very high amount of both violence and gore. To start off, as an action/adventure, Witcher's gameplay focuses primarily on the usage of a variety of weaponry and magic to combat and most often kill your opponent. Players will be armed with a number of different weapons including, but not limited to, daggers, swords, hammers, maces, clubs, rakes, animal traps, and more. Players will also use magical spells that are designed to stun enemies or set them on fire. Players will fight a variety of enemies that include human and humanoid creatures like elves and dwarves as well as a wide variety of monstrous creatures.

o   When fighting enemies, it is the player's goal to deplete their enemy's health. Most often this results in the death of the player's opponent, although several exceptions exist in which the enemy will admit defeat. Players will swing with their weapons or cast their spells, most often resulting in yells of pain, jerks of anguish, and sprays of red to signify blood. When killed, enemies will often drop without real resistance. Players are also able to chop off enemy's limbs, however this does not create any excess blood or gore...they simply fall off.

o   Players will also be able to engage in one on one fist fights in certain sections which are significantly more brutal than the regular sword fighting. Players must used timed button presses to determine whether they do or do not hit their opponent. The camera angle is directly over the shoulder and tends to be a great deal more shaky, making hits feel a great deal more solid when the screen rocks from a solid punch. Likewise, whereas sword fights will denote hacking and slashing without real damage short of the red spray, fist fights will portray punches all across the body as well as hair pulling, kicking, throws, stomping, and a variety of other melee combat in an in-your-face style.

o   Aside from fights, a number of cutscenes will also feature moments of extreme violence and occasional gore. Several examples include: when the King is slain, he is grabbed from behind by another individual and has his throat slashed while his daughter is watching; while arguing with a marshal on the gallows, the lawman kills two criminals by kicking open their gallow-doors and letting them fall on their nooses, slowly hanging them to death (the corpses remain hanging from their nooses for a while). On top of this, while exploring dungeons and ravaged streets, you will often find bloodied and mangled bodies from individuals that lost their lives.
-          Sexually-Related Content: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Witcher 2 features a very high amount of sexually-related content. This content takes place in sexually-related reference, full nudity, and depictions of sexual acts. There are several scenes throughout the game in which several women are depicted either topless or fully nude; some with and some without pubic hair for censoring purposes. One of these scenes in particular is literally at the very beginning of the game.

o   On top of this, Witcher 2 allows players to not only visit brothels throughout the various towns and cities that Geralt will visit, but also engage in sexual acts with the prostitutes that frequent them. Players will witness scenes of suggestive grinding, touching, and moaning as well as a variety of fully nude sexual depictions that include young women riding Geralt, being taken from behind, and more.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Moderate
o   Witcher 2 features a moderate amount of drug or alcohol usage; the majority of which tends to be depiction of alcoholic consumption. Players will often frequent bars, taverns, and inns which feature individuals in various states of drinking alcohol or with reference to individuals being intoxicated. On top of this, there are scenes depicting the usage of possible illicit drugs including one that features a cocaine-like substance being prepared and snorted by an individual.

Game Quality: High (8.5 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: High
o   Witcher 2 features a definitively high level of graphics and visuals. Some of the games major strengths include the fascinating design of a large number of different monsters and creatures as well as excellent level and environment design; on the contrary, the game suffers from the occasional glitch as well as poor facial expressions. Starting off, you can tell the moment that you get into this title that the team put an INCREDIBLE amount of time into designing and realizing the entire world in Witcher. Not only will players be able to explore a number of different towns and cities, each with their own unique feel, look, and dozens of different homes and businesses to explore, but the details put into the buildings and environments alike is breathtaking.

o   Even more of a treat then exploring the world is fighting the enemies. Each different creature that you run into has been fully conceptualized and brought to fruition with flesh and bone (so long as they actually have flesh or bone). Every monster, whether dragon or sewer monster, is a treat to run into. You never know what you'll run into next and, while I don't want to spoil it too much, don't think you know everything; the team has developed a number of new, interesting, and nasty beasties that Geralt will have to fight for the chance to clear his name.

o   However, world and creatures aside, Witcher 2 suffers from two major problems. The first is the occasional graphical glitch. A number of these graphical problems include "holes" which characters get stuck on; one example being where, while fighting on a set of stairs, Geralt walked up and then suddenly "sunk" up to his knees in the stone stairwell, leaving him unable to escape. Aside from that, the facial expressions in the game need some work. While the team put an EXCELLENT amount of work into the monsters that Geralt faces, the same can't be said about the human-factor of the game. Many characters suffer from unbelievably stiff facial-expressions that make them look and act more like robots making a vague attempt at expression.
-          Audio: High
o   Witcher 2 features a high level of audio and musical quality. Some of the game's strongest features lie in its musical score and ambient sound effects while its weakest link lies in poor voice acting. So, starting with the good, Witcher 2 features one of the finest musical soundtracks that we've run into in a good while. The game features an impressive orchestral score for just about everything you can imagine from action to stealth to a simple neutral traveling tone. Yet, with each one, the music is grand in its delivery, lifting your spirits and always making the player want to push just that much harder. Each piece is also matched to the fantasy-feel of the game and tends to be very heavy in horn and string pieces.

o   On the contrary, the voice acting is a bit of a haphazard mess. While not all of the voice acting is a problem, in fact the game features the talents of both Damian O'Hare and Doug Cockle, it still needs work. Many of the unimportant and "off-characters" tend to have exceptionally poor voice work, sounding like someone is simply reading off their lines from a piece of a paper rather than attempting to portray any form of emotion or make their performance believable in any fashion. Likewise, these same characters tend to run into the problem being heard over and over as many "off-characters" repeat and reuse the same couple of lines amongst dozens of different people. While it's not debilitating to the gameplay, it is a mildly annoying distraction that tends to take away from the game's enjoyment.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   Witcher 2 features a relatively high level of gameplay and playability; this is due to a very high level of gameplay but a moderate amount of playability. Starting off as always with playability, Witcher 2 has a couple of problems. While I have been unable to play the first Witcher title to confirm this belief, it would seem that the game relies heavily on the idea that players may have already experienced the first title. With the exception of battle and a few minor concepts or gameplay features, the game tends to expect you to either know how to control and navigate the game or look up how to do so. On top of this problem, the game itself tends to be a bit complicated when it comes to using all of Geralt's different skills and abilities and requires a good deal of explanation and maybe even a little studying to fully grasp how to play this game.

o   Now, while actually getting into the gameplay can be a bit of a rough start, once you do: the game is a blast. Witcher 2 features absolutely exceptional gameplay that seamlessly blends back and forth dialogue with sword fighting, magic usage, a wide variety of context-specific gameplay like using a ballista or attempting to calm a prisoner, as well as a huge number of mini-games that are used both to progress the story as well as provide player's the opportunity to relax from their adventures and win a little in-game money while they're at it. The game also focuses very heavily on player choice and, as the story progresses, allows players to make decisions throughout gameplay that will affect them both immediately as well as later down the road. A perfect example of this includes when I saved a group of people that were being rounded up to be killed by some corrupt soldiers early in the game. While I could have watched them die or even encouraged their genocide, I fought to defend the families who were set to burn. What resulted was a seamless recognition by several people down the road that remember me for my deeds and some who even rewarded me for going out of my way to help their friends and families. The entire game is like this and allows you to really make the gameplay experience unique to you.
-          Dollar-Value: Very High
o   Overall, Witcher 2 has a very high dollar-value. So long as you can get around and are ok with the exceptionally high amount of adult-rated content, this game will keep you going for a very long time. With already having over 20+ hours of gameplay and more to come with downloadable content in the future, Witcher 2 will most definitely stretch your gaming dollar. Not to mention the excellent visuals, heart catching music, and well-rounded and enticing gameplay options; Witcher 2 is an excellent choice for mature audiences looking to enjoy a fascinating story and the gameplay to back it up.

-          While not too many games will back up the clean, well-rounded gameplay that Witcher 2 has to offer, there are a couple we would recommend. First, if you are looking for a less adult-rated title, we would recommend Arcana Gothic 4. However, if you are ok with mature-rated content, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Sacred 2, and Dragon Age 2 would all be excellent choices.

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