If you're an RPG fan who doesn't own a super-fast gaming PC, you probably spent this time last year watching your PC-owning friends with no small amount of jealousy as they went on and on about this great game they were playing called The Witcher 2.
I was one of those PC ownerrs—I played the crap out of The Witcher 2 last year, loved it, and have been chipping away at a second playthrough as I write this.
You will be happy to know that just as it seemed when I last played it, The Witcher 2 has made the transition to Xbox 360 wholly intact.
To be honest, there isn't much more to say than that. It's the same game that inspired Fahey to write that fantastic review. The only thing missing is a bit of graphical fidelity, and it's just the sliiightest bit janky in how it runs, like it's still not quite comfortable working under the lower power of the Xbox 360.
Cutscenes bear the brunt of that jankiness, with some screen-tearing and general animation funkiness that wasn't present in the PC version of the game. But new players won't notice the cosmetic flaws enough to have a real problem with them, and PC players will… well, they already own the game on PC? Furthermore, the action sequences are smooth and fluid—the game is just as bracingly difficult as it was on PC, though you can play through a tutorial now and learn your way around a sword before you're thrown into battle.
The 360 version of The Witcher 2 is the "Enhanced Edition," which comes with a grip of new features including a lengthy (3-4 hour) new quest in the game's previously thin third act, new cutscenes and chapter-end cinematics, and a streamlined user interface and control scheme. All PC players will also get the Enhanced Edition next tuesday as free DLC.
I haven't gotten up to the new quest in either of my home versions, but I played a good chunk of it at a hands-on event a little while back and liked it. It's a meaty, fully fleshed-out story with lots of new characters and locations; more of a full quest than the majority of the sidequests in the proper game.
The graphics have certainly taken a hit on 360—textures look nowhere near as crisp or meaty as on a dialed-in PC. But that's okay— The Witcher 2 still gets away with a lot of very impressive stuff, and looks just fine on a big screen, even stretched from 720p. The PC version was one of the most graphically impressive games I played in 2011, but The Witcher 2 is much more about its story and characters than its visual splendor. Even with a graphical downgrade, it loses none of its charm. Presumably, all the rockin' sex scenes are in there, too.
The game itself comes on two DVDs with a third disc that contains the soundtrack. There's also a neat foldable map included, and I actually recommend taking the time to read the map and learn. The first time I played The Witcher 2, I didn't have much of a sense of the layout of the various kingdoms. All this time later, I enjoyed studying the map and figuring out how, exactly, the various points on the map met up.
In addition to all that, the Enhanced Edition also comes with a separate book that walks through all of the quests in the game, detailing their many branching paths. It's a neat if inessential addition, and will help any of those who have already played the game find things they may have missed.
Weirdly, the 360's enhanced controller setup doesn't make its way over to the PC version of the Enhanced Edition, which bummed me out. I'm one of the odd ones who played The Witcher 2 with a controller on PC, and I find that I prefer the 360's button layout and targeting system, which feel a touch different (and are arranged differently) on the PC.
But hey; that's just a little quibble, and actually something that I wouldn't be surprised to see CD Projekt address with a patch. For now, here's what you really need to know: The Witcher 2 on 360 is every bit the game as its PC big-brother.
The Witcher 2 was one of those games that I very much wanted to talk about with my friends, but which I couldn't since so many hadn't played them. I'm happy to see it on the 360, because that means that hopefully, many more people will play it, and a whole new group of gamers will get to enjoy their very own lusty, sexy adventures.
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You may be aware that CD Projekt's The Witcher games are based on a series of fantasy novels by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. What you may not know is that I liked the story of The Witcher 2: More »