Sitting down to another PC port, like many before it, you’ll be wondering how well, what many consider a 'PC' game, will it transfer to the Xbox 360. More importantly how it utilises the controller instead of being offered a plethora of buttons via a keyboard and mouse.
Despite the challenge CDProjekt Red have taken a game which started life as 'Miecz Przeznaczenia' (The Sword of Destiny for those who don't speak Polish) and given console gamers yet another RPG title to choose from, alongside Skyrim and Kingdoms of Alamur.
Loading the game up, before you've even had a chance to view the start screen you're greeted with what can only be described as one of the best cut-scenes seen in a video game. Letho, a fellow Witcher (although Witchers don't exactly stay loyal to their own kind), is seen throwing what can only be described as a contagious vile of ice onto a ship he has boarded. He quickly dispatches all who survive his initial attack (this does involve a fair bit of blood and a headless King). Luckily the game continues where the cut scene has left off and CDProjekt Red has produced a stunning title.
Gamers who have bought The Witcher 2 on PC will tell you that the games graphics can quite literally bring a PC to a grinding halt. Amazingly, despite all this, CDProjekt Red have managed to not only port the game onto a console, but graphically speaking it still looks absolutely amazing. Granted you're never going to get PC quality visuals on your Xbox 360, but it doesn't miss by much, especially after you've installed the game to your hard drive. The locations, characters, weapons and monsters that you'll see are a true representation of the word ‘awe-inspiring‘.
Jumping into the Prologue you'll be introduced to a Witcher called Geralt who is suffering from a small case of memory loss and doesn't really know who he is. Vernon Roche, Commander of the Temerian Army, quickly reveals that his King, Foltest, has been murdered and Geralt has been framed. After being questioned Vernon realises that Geralt was not the murderer and helps him escape, and so begins your quest to clear Geralts name.
The story is gripping for a number of reasons, first it's very immersive, just on it's own merits. It get's even more intriguing when you reach certain checkpoints within the game where your decisions will open up certain doors in some places and close others elsewhere. When you reach the end of the first chapter, for example, you must decide whether to follow Iorveth or Vernon, both of which take you on completely different paths within the game.
Your choices aren't as simple as a yes or a no, good or evil either. Your answer to one question, although not intended to result in a bout of fisticuffs, may finish with you wiping blood from your sword, yet if you had threatened or scared your foe into remission you'll find yourself simply wiping the beads of sweat from your brow.
Planning your approach is a big role in the game, with players having to weigh up the challenges ahead and use the necessary potions, weapons, armour and accessories that will give you the greatest advantage against your enemies. If you need to see in the dark to get through the sewers in a castle, well a quick swig of 'Cat' and you're ready to go, maybe you've got an opponent who's thick skinned, drink 'Rook' and your sword will become that little bit more powerful. Having this mass of choices makes up for the somewhat simple battle tactic of roll, heavy attack, roll, light attack.
On Easy, as you'd expect it is a breeze, however bump it up to normal and you'll find yourself surrounded with very little chances of surviving. Selecting anything higher than normal and you will have to take your potions and skill tree very seriously if you wish to stand a chance. You will even find yourself hunting down objects to craft weapons and herbs to bring out the inner alchemist in you.
Along your journey you are given the chance to participate in numerous side quests, such as hunting down an alcoholic trolls wife’s killers - you know, everyday jobs in Geralts world. The game from first glance promises to be a sandbox RPG with limitless routes and places to visit, in reality it's still quite linear, even with the side stories and additional quests. You’ll never quite feel like you can do what you want with Geralt.
On the whole The Witcher 2 is without doubt one of the best games to find its way into your Xbox 360 this year and arguably up there with your Gears of Wars, Battlefields, Skyrims and CODs. It’s punishingly difficult if you don’t take your time and plan out your journey. This level of preparation only adds to the game’s appeal. The characters are well played out along with the gripping story. Your choices have never made so much of a difference in a game, even when you think you’ve made the ‘good’ choice, you’ll find yourself a few towns down regretting not choosing the ‘bad’ option.
It is a stunning game, you’ll be hard pressed to find any issues with it whatsoever. Even if you’ve never heard of Geralt, CDProjekt Red have created the game in such a way that you’ll feel like you’re not playing a sequel but the original. Despite being just a tad linear, there’s enough side quests and games to keep you occupied for a long time. The game's longevity doesn’t stop there, even if you manage to complete it, you’ll want to play it all over again just to see what happens when you make different choices. If you want to be shown how a PC port should be done, then look no further than The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.