Computer games reviews and ramblings on games and gaming, from a gamer, roleplayer and LARPer.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Guest Review: The Witcher 2. Courtesy of Draconas

Otherwise known as: CD Project Red need to play Dragon Age 2.

I've just finished Witcher 2, and have very mixed feelings about it:

On the plus side:
* Good story.
* I like the world
* Once again very few "right" decisions. Lots of picking the lesser of 2 evils.
* Geralt is cool.
* Less sex, this time every woman in the game is not despirate to screw geralt until his eyes pop out.
* They worked the returning memories and unfolding plot in very well, making me hopeful for number 3.

On the minus sides:
The user experience is dire.
Lets start with to of combat: there is massive lag in doing things in conversations or the shop screen. Going through a door frequently takes multiple attempts, trying to make potions when you have no idea of what ingredients you actually have and how many of a specific type, ending up accidently buying several copies of a craft recipe because there is no way of automatically telling, you have to manually find them in your inventory. The "storage locations" are not explained and poorly marked so are very easy to miss, leading to your carrying around all your crafting items on the off chance they will be useful.

Oh and lets come back to that: crafting recipies in chapter 3 which requires items from chapters 1 and 2, if you haven't collected them or sold them because they had no use, sucks to be you.

Numerous quests with no map markers or helpers, leading to large portions of time of frustrating searching and doubling back.

moving about to make the auto-focuser lock onto a specific item is also a pain, leading to 30 seconds back and forth to be able to collect a key item.

Oh and no real intro / tutorial, you get thrown in at the deep end and expected to learn fast. Or in my case die a lot, because i accidently went straight to dragon fighting, which is very unforgiving and has large amounts of "be 100% right or die instantly" moments.

There is a backstab mechanic: hit someone from behind and do double damage, including on you... combine this with an auto-targetting system that makes geralt leap through enemies and engage the one at the back and you go from winning to game over in half a second flat. Buying the talent that reduces this is mandatory just to overcomes the games own stupidity.

Several enemies can STRIKEDOWN lock geralt, leading to the same problem.

See control lag: makes using grenades very much not fun.

Don't get me startewd that the entire control itnerface has been designed for an Xbox 360... I am a PC user, I have 30 keys and 5 mouse buttons, let me fucking use them rather than having to use your quick menu that pauses my game every few seconds.

Oh an inconsistent key/mouse buttons for different sections frequently ends up with accessing the main menu when you want to go back.

Most of them would be individually small things and easy to overlook, but combined together they take the fun off a lot of the game. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of enjoyment from it, but especially when I compare it to dragon age 2 - and specifically the refinements they made from dragon age 1 to cut out the less fun bits, Witcher 2 seems not to have learned any lessons, and takes what could have been a great game down to only an above average game.

I want to play through again to play the other main plot path, but I just can't take the pain a second time.

1 comment:

  1. I have to disagree.

    While I agree that more could have been done to improve the user experience, a lot of the rawness made one feel more alive. As it were. It made the RPG experience all the more intense and exciting rather than infuriating. And I don't mean that the struggle against the interface somehow made the game better, but that the struggle was relatively insignificant compared to the immense fun (and beauty) of the game.

    Dragon Age 2 is a good comparison. And CDPR really should have played it (and I hope did) to find out how not to make a game. DA2 failed at the fundamental level by making the player feel awful (not in a good way) and doing as much as possible to make them feel insignificant (not in a good way) so that in the end you realise that DA2 desperately doesn't want you to enjoy yourself, but instead experience their vision, which SURELY must be what you want.

    The Witcher 2, in contrast, lays it down the way they want, but give an empowering experience. The level of writing, characterisation, plot and world painting... astounding in comparison to DA2 (and Dragon Age: Origins).

    I can certainly empathise with the combat problems, I didn't mind them so much, but I can appreciate that it was not the greatest system. Huge improvement over Witcher 1 though, and great fun once you've got the hang of it (which did take quite a while.)

    And I personally like the whole "blink and you'll miss" thing with the crafting and much much more because it reinforces that the world is not just there as some sort of Geralt sycophant. Things happen, and you're there, and you try and get something or other done.

    Also - The Witcher 2 has Vernon Roche, who is surely one of the best characters written for a game. Ever.