The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition Features for Xbox 360

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot

You might have listened to last week's podcast where the Internet's Neon Kelly performed reputation seppuku and admitted he hadn't managed to get instantly hooked to Skyrim from moment of boot-up. You don't typically hear that too often. Skyrim has been popular enough to penetrate the layers of gamerdom that separate the gaming academics from the guys on B3ta from people who just like dragons. It's as much of a talking point for forum intellectuals as it is a cultural meme machine, which spells out exactly how big a cross-section of the market it has ownership of.

Still the two of us – and I'm speaking here for Neon with the authority of someone who managed to press Publish on this article before he had a chance to read this – slipped through the cracks one way or another.

It's not often you'll hear genuine complaints about the game, but it's also not uncommon for people to find it hard to penetrate on an emotional level. And while right now Martin is on vacation somewhere in Scotland, screaming to the clouds in mad-anger because this discussion is happening at all, I still have to side with Neon. It left me cold in a way that role-playing games don't tend to do.

And more specifically, in a way that The Witcher 2 didn't.

There's a starkness that the game has without the use of any real innovative wizardry. It's not exactly a secret that what CD Projekt RED were bringing to the table was an RPG that on paper had most of the makings of what we had already seen from BioWare. A dark, mature, topless, player choice-oriented fantasy game. Its main offering to the genre has been how it realises the lore of the Sadowski books it's based on.

So while its morality system is much cruder than anything out of BioWare's mines - at its best a choice between two forks in its narrative compared to Bio's conversation wheels - the choices you make have more of an immediate and obvious impact. Kill a likeable NPC to get on the soft side of a sentry, ally with another character and you'll lose touch with another, follow one quest line and you'll never see one of the available zones, kill your enemy or let him go, and so on.

The major game-changing choices that are available in limited quantity in RPGs are consistent in Witcher 2. That results in a clear sense of your personal effect on the world, and more generally than that a sense of the total greyness of political morality.

Even your character Geralt is a man of sheer grey tones. Witchers aren't necessarily bad dudes, but they certainly swing with rougher crowds, killing monsters as a profession, and acting on no particular set of principles.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot

So one of the primary questions the game seems to ask is what is the player's role then amidst this dark apathy? Well, it's a continued push-and-pull of darkness, bad choices, tough choices, and so on, so that with every choice is weight on your conscience, is CD Projekt's answer.

While The Witcher 2 tries to create a meaningful world largely on the strength of a narrative that forks through the case, in Skyrim a meaningful world is created mostly by relying on AI complexities.

But somehow this approach feels oddly solipsistic to me. Bethesda's work making a fully-functioning simulated fantasy nation was successful in making it seem like I was part of an ecosystem that would exist with or without me there. But its open-world qualities - much like Minecraft - catered to feelings of loneliness, waywardness, and a sense of being generally dislodged.

The Witcher 2 might follow a simpler, streamlined approach by only giving users a handful of zones, and funnels them through the plot to its inevitable end-quest conclusion, but with that comes a sense of clarity about your place in the game. And more importantly a sense of real meaning and purpose that I could never feel in Skyrim.

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User Comments

squidman's Avatar

squidman@ TomO

YOU DON'T FEED THEM, for a start.

WHICH YOU JUST DID.
Posted 12:59 on 17 April 2012
TomO's Avatar

TomO@ squidman

By the way Martin, I did kill the troll. It did kill Lydia, but the troll died. I was actually enjoying it a lot, but wanted to actually finish something so moved on to something else for while.

Out of interest, how do you kill a forum troll? ;)
Posted 12:58 on 17 April 2012
draytone's Avatar

draytone@ s_h_a_d_o

Click for Image
Posted 10:08 on 17 April 2012
s_h_a_d_o's Avatar

s_h_a_d_o

What happens when you love both? :|
Posted 02:04 on 17 April 2012
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ mydeaddog

Hoo boy that wins summin fierce. LOOK AT HIS SKELETON FACE.
Posted 22:55 on 16 April 2012
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Badass Dark Souls armour:

http://darksoulswiki.wikispaces.com/...h_Assassin.JPG
Posted 22:28 on 16 April 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ squidman

Trophies? That does sound like a nice little feature... I've purposefully keot review/preview reading to a minimum, so... really looking forward to finally being able to experience it!
Posted 21:58 on 16 April 2012
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ p0rtalthinker

OH yeah, I forgot about the trophies for a second. They're a great touch - really good. I especially like the one you get for collecting all the harpy feathers!
Posted 21:17 on 16 April 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee

My Skyrim days ended with me wandering the lands high on exotic drugs with the Kajiit. They were the only cool people in that place.
Posted 21:14 on 16 April 2012
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker

I beg to differ on Skyrims armor. Almost every piece of armor in the Witcher 2 is spectacularly awesome. You can even pick up trophy's off of fallen special enemies and wear it around like a badass! Now that's something Skyrim doesn't have. Plus, there's very little armor clipping in TW2.

The two games are so incredibly different it's almost a sin to compare them with each other. Why does everything have to be compared to Skyrim, or vice versa? Like Martin said they're two completely different experiences aimed at accomplishing different things. I don't care about my character or any NPC's in Skyrim because i'm not looking for realism when playing Skyrim. Witcher 2's all about being gritty and realistic, providing a semi-linear narrative and creating relationships with strong, diverse characters. Skyrim is all about roaming around the countryside doing quests and collecting loot. Witcher 2 has drastic consequences for your actions. Skyrim has very little to no repercussions for any of your actions. I'm sure I could go into more specifics but I won't bother.
Posted 20:43 on 16 April 2012
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ Clockpunk

aye nae bother haste ye back.
Posted 19:30 on 16 April 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ squidman

Hey! I can take all the insults you can devise, but no-one calls me THAT, you ****************************** Flange ************* ***************** biscuit!!! :p ;)

I agree with you on the Daedra though, especially the one that *ahem* takes you to new heights. That was very impressive.

Armour-wise, pfft, more like: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=car...r:5 ,s:0,i:91
Posted 18:21 on 16 April 2012
squidman's Avatar

squidman

Plus, Skyrim has better armour:

http://api.ning.com/files/KUow-l2RKP...737&height=552
Posted 18:11 on 16 April 2012
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ Clockpunk

GO BLOW IT OUT YOUR ****HOLES.

I don't mind what any of you play, I'm just trying to spice up the comments threads a little bit by personally insulting you people. I'm all for a bit of theatrics but I'm afraid I can't risk damaging my beautiful face with any violent antics, but typical response from a GLASWEGIAN.

But seriously though, some of my favourite 'character' quests in Skyrim are the Daedric ones, because the Daedra are all a bunch of horrible, horrible bastards.
Posted 18:04 on 16 April 2012

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 17/04/2012
Developer: CD Projekt
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 191 9
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