The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review for PC

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The second entry in the Witcher saga is characterized by an incredibly gripping, mature and challenging non-linear plot.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings screenshot
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings screenshot

For better or for worse The Witcher has developed a status in the West as the darker Euro-cousin of BioWare's fantasy titles. Both series' cater to a lanky subcategory of RPGs which focus on honing a more mature tone – and for both that tone basically emerges out of the occasional outburst of softcore petting. Even today, four years after the release of The Witcher, the game's probably still best known for its introduction of sex cards rather than its lead character, the titular blonde and brooding Witcher Geralt.

But to put it in television terms: The Witcher 2 makes Dragon Age look like daytime viewing next to its HBO primetime slot. Gone now are the sex cards. In fact sex generally feels like a less prominent character than it was originally. Lesbian dominatrixes and pool sex provide the window dressing still but the game hinges largely on a brutal sense of moral ambiguity and political seediness that stretches down to the core of its narrative.

It's worth mentioning that this game manages to fulfil the task that many games have taken a swing at but often never quite hit on the mark (Fable 3, here's looking at you). There is no clear good or bad option in Witcher 2 when almost all decisions are firmly lodged in the greyest of grey areas – something that happens to give a legitimate sense of weight to every choice you make. Likewise, don't expect the clear cut polarity of moral alignment charts.

Geralt is an amnesiac Witcher – essentially a half-breed of mutant and mage who make it their profession to kill off monsters, and he is attempting to clear his name after being accused of assassinating the king (no spoilers here: it's in the title, see).

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings screenshot

And despite the good-hearted objective there are few quests that aren't riddled with very visible collateral damage in the form of innocent NPCs who you can actually sympathise with. When Geralt saves a destitute woman who can only return the favour in sex it's not the lol-inducing meme of the original's cards, instead the act feels nothing if not faintly depressing as you take advantage of a waif.

Similarly, the pivotal decision of which NPC you inevitably join sides with later on in the game will leave you feeling uneasy, particularly when each choice has a visible effect on the storyline and the choice you're given is basically between, to put it in South Park terminology, a douche and a turd. Elsewhere depending on choices you make by the end of the first act, you can continue down one of two entirely different paths, each with its own cities and specific quest lines that can affect the final outcome of the game.

Combat is essentially a light balance of crowd control, dodging, a vague level of strategy, and half a brain. Unlike the first game Geralt can't down potions mid-battle – instead you "meditate" pre-fight which lets you create potions based on formulae and ingredients you've looted along the way, which affect your stats for a limited amount of time. So you rarely have any crutches to fall back on mid-battle beyond your ability to plan ahead and not take defensive measures for granted.

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9 Comments

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Highest Rated Comment

CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Neon-Soldier32

Dude, it still got a 9! I swear, people have literally forgotten how to differentiate between each mark on the grading scale. It is almost as if 0-5 don't exist, 6 means "Awful", 7 means "Average", 8 and 9 are actually identical, and then the step up to 10 is literally colossal.

Personally, if there was anything in a game that annoyed me more than once or twice, I would also mark it down as a result. But then, personally, I wouldn't bother with scoring the game anyway. The review tells me more than enough about how much I can expect to enjoy this title.
Posted 14:11 on 23 May 2011

User Comments

Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Do i need to mention the part where Triss takes off her clothes.........WITH MAGIC? No? Good.
Posted 01:44 on 24 May 2011
renegade's Avatar

renegade

Its my GOTY so far, sorry Portal 2
Posted 00:33 on 24 May 2011
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker

Good review Emily. Definitely picking this up eventually...
Posted 20:17 on 23 May 2011
dudester's Avatar

dudester

Good review the next week I get off from work I think this will be where I will be residing I am geralt of riveria.
Posted 20:04 on 23 May 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ Neon-Soldier32

Games don't get marked down from 10! They get marked up from 7 ;p
Posted 17:44 on 23 May 2011
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32@ CheekyLee

Fair point. Plus, I think I wanted it to get a 10 too. TU.
Posted 17:21 on 23 May 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Neon-Soldier32

Dude, it still got a 9! I swear, people have literally forgotten how to differentiate between each mark on the grading scale. It is almost as if 0-5 don't exist, 6 means "Awful", 7 means "Average", 8 and 9 are actually identical, and then the step up to 10 is literally colossal.

Personally, if there was anything in a game that annoyed me more than once or twice, I would also mark it down as a result. But then, personally, I wouldn't bother with scoring the game anyway. The review tells me more than enough about how much I can expect to enjoy this title.
Posted 14:11 on 23 May 2011
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Was there anything else, apart from the difficult combat and useless doors, which marked The Witcher 2 down? I mean, if it is' one of the most ambitious, darkest and legitimately smart RPGs, these seem minor inconvieniences, unworthy of marking the game down a whole grade.

Also, what settings did you run the game on / computer spec?
Posted 13:59 on 23 May 2011
renegade's Avatar

renegade

"Useless doors" could not have put it better myself, for a game so perfect, that is such an annoying nitpick but its sooooooooo frustrating!

But the game is hell o pretty, well worth buying my Pc for :) and with Dirt 3 this week, its a good time to own a beast machine.

P.s I thought the same thing about the Dragons xD
Posted 11:56 on 23 May 2011

Game Stats

System Requirements
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
9
Out of 10
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  • Gorgeous to look at
  • Extremely dark
  • Innumerable choices that affect the plot
  • Useless doors
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 17/05/2011
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: CD Projekt
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 332 9
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