Why The Witcher 2 Needed an Enhanced Edition

Greg Tito | 18 Apr 2012 16:00
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The geography of the setting was always a bit fuzzy for me - perhaps because the world map was labeled in Polish with Cyrillic letters - but the enhanced edition does several things to make the different nations and cultures easier to understand for us English-speakers. First, there's the feelie map that's packaged with the game; touching a physical object, smelling the paper, and running my fingers along the story trapped within its lines made the fantasy feel more real. I was surprised to hear a new voiceover from Dandelion, the foppish bard, accompanied by an animated sequence showing the path Geralt's ship takes up the river to Flotsam. Deftly killing two storytelling birds with a single stone, the player now knows where in the world he is and hints at a character about to be introduced.

With so many moving parts, navigating menus and inventories often kills otherwise decent roleplaying games. I usually prefer PC controls to a controller, but this Enhanced Edition makes the muddy menus much easier to navigate. There's still some overly complex usage of shoulder buttons and triggers, but it's an improvement. CD Projekt thankfully removed the annoyingly long animation of Geralt kneeling down, drinking potions, then throwing the bottle away. You still can't drink potions in combat, but I'll take what I can get.

The action combat seems more at home with a controller in hand rather than a mouse and keyboard. There was a lagginess to the commands that has been mitigated by the transition to consoles and quickly parrying a sword blow feels like a natural reflex rather than a deliberate choice like it had to on the PC.

Not everything is clean, however. Likely in order to get the highest framerate and control response, texture resolution was the inevitable trade off. The forests surrounding Flotsam, the cliffs around Vergen, and even the battlefield of the prologue all feel a bit less crystal clear. Clipping and flashing of characters are frequent, like the port was imperfect. There's a bit more graphical bugs than the average Xbox game, but not enough to put me off.

The Witcher 2 works extremely well on the Xbox 360, and CD Projekt certainly hopes that the new format will sell more than the million confirmed sales in 2011 of the PC exclusive. The Enhanced Edition improves nearly every mechanical concern I had with the game. If you've already played through the game, download the patch to see all the new cinematics and enjoy the refined mechanics. Better still, you can finally convince that console purist friend of yours to experience a high-quality action RPG with an unconventionally dark setting on his Xbox. The ingrate.

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