The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition

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

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

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
Back to game info
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot

After I scored the PC version 9/10 last year, CD Projekt RED has taken the Witcher 2 to Xbox 360. The Polish publisher originally tested Microsoft's waters during the development of the now-cancelled The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf. But the real question has never been whether CD Projekt RED could bring their games to console, but how to transition a title so heavily intertwined with PC aficionados.

For all intents and purposes, The Witcher 2 isn't built to mimic the action-RPGs that have whet the appetite of the console market so far. Despite having been developed with a controller in mind from the start, the game never embraced the action-based twitchiness of its fantasy cousin Dragon Age 2. Even when it seems to allude to other hack and slash titles by sending out waves of enemies for protagonist Geralt to slaughter, it opts for a less beaten path than many will be used to.

A Witcher is tough, but he's not at his prime fighting state until he takes time to prepare for combat, which involves the brewing, meditating, or riffling through various things in your inventory to apply to Geralt. This is one of the things that make up the odd tempo of this world. Similarly the game doesn't reward speediness, or even cater to it entirely – rolls and dodges themselves are slower than anything comparable in DA and even Skyrim, and have their own particular, delayed cadence despite the fact that these defensive measures are crucial for success.

It's something that feels particularly odd against the backdrop of fantasy RPGs that have been available on Xbox 360 in the last few years, but its steadfastness as a hardcore role-playing game sets it apart from every one of its competitors.

As CD Projekt had proved on PC, The Witcher 2 is a difficult, sometimes ruthless game that embraces the core aspects of fantasy. As I expanded on in our PC review, it's a joyfully plausible fantasy setting. Night and day cycles, along with the occasional torrential rain pour, affect the environment and the citizens of the game, who themselves start to dejectedly sigh at the first sign of rain or call out to you for help when being attacked as part of Witcher 2's humans-versus-non-human race war subplot.

It stands apart from its PC sibling too, thanks to CD Projekt's more-bang-for-your-buck development philosophy. The new Enhanced edition justifies the existence of Witcher 2 on console, providing a slightly renewed take of the game with the inclusion of roughly four hours of new material slotted in, added cutscenes, introductory features for new players, alongside a number of additions from Version 2.0 of the original PC title that will be recognised by anyone who played the game after its release late last year.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition screenshot

That also includes new characters, who pop up by the third and final chapter of the game in side-quests. The studio has been insisting the game is more adaptation than port, pointing to new content like a side-story about a witness to the disappearance of the heir to the throne, and a quest-line that has you escort her to a quiet escape, as reasons to differentiate this from the PC twin.

The game's control system has been overhauled too, reducing a keyboard to 12 buttons. But the new control system also creates one of the biggest improvements to one of the earlier problems on PC where interaction hotspots on items were too small, forcing users to awkwardly mouse over doors and loot until the item was recognised. Now these are simply non-issues. Items can be picked up all at once when dropped from enemy corpses, with the old awkwardness replaced by the wondrously mind-numbing simplicity of hitting a face button.

More welcome than either of those are a series of additional cutscenes that have been included to spell out the direct causal effect of your choices in the game. Often options that allow you to manipulate the storyline in games lead toward cloudy conclusions, in which your actual role in the series of events is unclear. Now new cutscenes have been added in-between the chapters to show exactly how your choices play out and their significance to the overall story. It's a clarity that's often missing within choice-driven RPGs, and which has been perfected in this game.

While it runs on what would have been medium graphics on the PC version, this is a very small cross to bear for a game that brings itself to a mainstream audience - a place it deserves to be. While not necessarily as big a name as the products of BioWare or Bethesda, The Witcher 2 is still one of the most interesting developments in RPGs within the last ten years, and with a combination of additional content and cutscenes its Enhanced Edition on Xbox 360 is one of the most lovingly crafted fan-services you'll find.

Version Tested: Xbox 360

New stuff to check out

8 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Tesco are selling it RIGHT NOW!!!!

Got my copy!
Posted 20:20 on 13 April 2012
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis

hmmm... thanks for the info guys :)
Posted 18:51 on 13 April 2012
dudester's Avatar

dudester@ Rickitis

Yeah all the developer has said is that don't have a big enough team to work on multiple versions at once, so they did the pc then 360.

The next call they make is it worth the time to do a ps3 version or should they work on witcher 3?
Posted 15:38 on 13 April 2012
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Witcher 2 has been the only RPG that I have heavily enjoyed for quite some time.
Posted 15:02 on 13 April 2012
TomO's Avatar

TomO

No PS3 version has been announced, but it's not impossible that it will arrive at some point in the future.
Posted 14:16 on 13 April 2012
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis

Ok this might be a really dumb question but is this just PC and Xbox 360? Will it ever come to the PS3?
Posted 14:04 on 13 April 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

It does read more like a 10/10 game... but ce la vis - a damned fine score. It is releasing at a avery bad time, for my schedule is apocalyptically busy, but still! Looking forward to picking it up on Tuesday from HMV...

What a way to end with a bang!
Posted 13:56 on 13 April 2012
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

A nice review, but I don't really see why this didn't get a 10 - it has numerous improvements such as the 2.0 patch, but the only negative thing you've really said about it is in the summing up pare where it, 'might be a little slow for some', but you never realy mentioned that as an issues in the PC version.
Posted 13:33 on 13 April 2012

Game Stats

Technical Specs
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition
9
Out of 10
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition
  • Extra content is excellent
  • Great port
  • Fixes numerous issues with the PC original
  • Might be a little slow for some
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 17/04/2012
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: CD Projekt
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 184
View Full Site