The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review

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Unless this actually comes out for console, which it hasn't as far as I know. Then I'm not getting it. I'm so tired of the PC rat race. Otherwise, I'd play it. The Witcher had a lot of the same brutal learning curves so it's par for the course at least.

Rabidkitten:
I have a question, and an honest one. A lot of people complain about the ruthless intro sequence. Why don't you just lower the difficulty? Is it a knock on a game when there is an option to make a scene easier but you have to injure your pride to pass it?

When I play a game and encounter a tough sequence I usually go through a couple of phases.

1. Desperation. "WTF this is impossible."
2. Progress. "Maybe I can do this after all."
3. Victory. "Waaaaaagh."

If I were to cut down the difficulty every time I faced something difficult it wouldn't be nearly as much fun, so I try to avoid that except for the most extreme cases.
In TW2 the problem isn't that the game is too hard (on normal that is) but that it sometimes is too hard or confusing in the wrong places. For instance having to react quickly right after a loading screen, or having to react quickly while trying to read tutorial tips.

Making the start very hard, and the later chapters comparatively easy isn't the best balance. It's better to ease new players into the game, and then turn up the scale later.

I get that reviews are subjective.

But it feels like a Gym teacher is an examiner for my final-year architecture project. He knows nothing about what I'm trying to achieve or why, and can't possibly assess the strengths and weaknesses of my argument. His mind is so focussed on Gym-stuffs that he isn't mentally equipped or trained to award an accurate grade.

BreakfastMan:
Why the frak are you so "butthurt" over one man's opinion?

You know why people read reviews, right?
Because people care what they say. Amazing.

Rabidkitten:
I have a question, and an honest one. A lot of people complain about the ruthless intro sequence. Why don't you just lower the difficulty? Is it a knock on a game when there is an option to make a scene easier but you have to injure your pride to pass it?

Kind of, yeah. The problem is not the difficulty level itself, it's the curve. They throw you into some really brutal fights, even on normal difficulty, without really easing you into the mechanics of handling multiple enemies, then handling multiple enemies with armor and shields. This is not game-breaking by any means and anyone who paid fifty dollars will push through and be better for it, but it could have balanced that part better.

The reason switching down to Easy isn't a viable option all the time is because Easy seems to be too easy. There's a fight I just did last night, where the enemy is brutal with his ability and item usage and makes it really hard to get successive hits in, all while doing major damage any time he hits you. This was on Normal. It was a major spike in difficulty, so instead of beating my head against that particular wall, I decided to switch down to Easy.

It didn't just become easier, it became a downright cakewalk. Suddenly the enemy never blocked, never even used abilities and I was able to keep landing hits on him non-stop. Again, I can't fault the game too much, but there seems to be a significant gap between those two difficulty levels. Obviously the game can't match my exact skill level and familiarity (and the example I gave was not the beginning of the game), but if it was going to lower the difficulty anywhere, the beginning is the best choice. People are jumping the gun and calling that "hand holding," but that's not the case. Easing players into an experience is not hand-holding. Is a movie "dumbed down" when it introduces viewers to the world and the characters in the beginning? The game can be as hard as it wants, it just should have ramped up into that difficulty better. Again, this was not a big deal for me and I'm loving the game in spite of it, but I can see why it would frustrate some players and no, it's not because they're utterly incompetent.

PrinceOfShapeir:
Let me explain how reviews -actually- work, since some of you actually think your anger is justified - you're being stupid, by the way - A reviewer plays a game and -reports his feelings-. Now, you're wondering what the purpose of these reviews are, I suspect. Now what you should do is go through prior reviews and study his opinion until you get a basic understanding of his likes and dislikes - you should especially pay attention to games you have played that he or she has reviewed. If your opinions regularly coincide, you should probably pay attention to the reviewer. If -not-, you can pretty safely ignore the reviewer, because you clearly have different taste in games from that reviewer.

A reviewer thoroughly plays the game analyzes all aspects and points the good things and the flaws. You know, so the reader gets an idea of what he might like or not in the game.
This review is more like a first impression of the game both in the way is written and in level of analysis.

Levethian:

BreakfastMan:
Why the frak are you so "butthurt" over one man's opinion?

You know why people read reviews, right?
Because people care what they say. Amazing.

I get that people care about what other people say. What I do not get is why so many people on this forum care so dang much. It is just an opinion of someone on the internet, dangit, it is not the end of the world! It reminds me of this XCKD comic:
image
See what I mean? The guy I was talking to above said that he believed the site has zero credibility and was not coming back because... one editor gave a positive review to a game he disliked, and a less positive review to a game he liked? Doesn't that seem, oh I don't know, a bit petty to you? Come on people, it is not that big of a deal!

Easing players into a game isn't handholding, it's -good game design-. That's how you're supposed to do it, that's how the Difficulty Curve works.

abija:

A reviewer thoroughly plays the game analyzes all aspects and points the good things and the flaws. You know, so the reader gets an idea of what he might like or not in the game.
This review is more like a first impression of the game both in the way is written and in level of analysis.

A quick look at Metacritic would let curious customers know that this review is slightly lower than the average. The game's getting stellar reviews for the most part and if any RPG fan is making the purchase decision based entirely on Tito's opinion, they're doing it wrong. So what's at stake here and why people are getting so up-in-arms over it? I can only assume that people are idle/bored like me and are just killing time by debating online.

PrinceOfShapeir:
And for those of you who are comparing it to the Classics like Baldur's Gate, recall that the first fights in Baldur's Gate are -very- simple and the combat system at the early levels is basically 'point, click, and watch.' RPGs having deep, complex combat systems is a fairly new thing. I cannot -think- of a classic RPG that had a really deep combat system. Certainly not the Isle Trinity of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape Torment. Certainly not Arcanum, much as I love her. Deus Ex's combat was difficult, but not complex. Complexity is not inherently good.

I'm not sure what game you played but the Baldur's Gate I remember was extremely difficulty especially in the early levels with multiple party-members able to die or permanently die from a few Gibberlings or Wolves because they had like 7-10 hp which is 1-2 hits. The game got gradually easier as you got more tactical options like spells, staffs and potions and a lot more HP (aside of some of the awesomely designed bosses and encounters that were all over the game).

'Hard to learn, harder to master' is not something that should be a goal. The goal is 'Easy to learn, hard to master.' Someone earlier in the thread commented about how Tito should complain about how Chess should set up it's strategies for him. Would you care to explain how exactly that makes any sense? Chess does not have an arcane system, it has a -very- simple system, and from it's simplicity comes great depth.

It's not, it just requires you to read the Manual or the Journal and experiment a bit, it is really not rocket science... Chess is incredibly harder to "learn".
The rest of your post seems to contain nothing but praise and insulting everyone that disagress so yeah...

Inkidu:
Unless this actually comes out for console, which it hasn't as far as I know. Then I'm not getting it. I'm so tired of the PC rat race. Otherwise, I'd play it. The Witcher had a lot of the same brutal learning curves so it's par for the course at least.

They'll announce the Xbox360 version at the Microsoft Press Conference at the E3 in over a week.

Bostur:
When I play a game and encounter a tough sequence I usually go through a couple of phases.

1. Desperation. "WTF this is impossible."
2. Progress. "Maybe I can do this after all."
3. Victory. "Waaaaaagh."

If I were to cut down the difficulty every time I faced something difficult it wouldn't be nearly as much fun, so I try to avoid that except for the most extreme cases.

image
God forbid someone actually enjoys being challenged a bit...

Also...

PrinceOfShapeir:
A reviewer plays a game and -reports his feelings-.

Prince, although I agree with the rest of your post, the whole review explanation you give misses the point; it's ok for the dude writing the article to state his opinion on the important aspects of a game he's played, but what do you do when he states it nonetheless without actually playing the whole game? Or even half of it by the looks of the article. :) Or worse, he played the whole game and stated impressions only of the beginning phase and a couple of flaws in the next village...

Honestly, if you ignore the DA2/TW2 arguments, there's more to learn about what the game has to offer from the comments than from the article itself.

I agree, the negative aspects Greg listed are there; but where's mention about the plenitude of choices, about how they affect the rest of the walkthrough and about how if you play it twice you'll get a whole new story (give different choices ofc). Where's mention of the characters you meet throughout the game and how are they given a personality of their own? About how the world around you tries to copy a living one? (if it rains, they take cover under roofs, when the sun sets, they gather around fires, etc... instead of standing still in one place all game long). These are good things the game has to offer, and they should be mentioned, not left aside.

I can continue the list...

And after seeing 3 pages of criticism about the beginning, but almost no word of the good parts that come later in the game, I do believe that either he didn't play the whole game, or that he did and left the good parts untold (which would be worse in my case).

The game has good parts, and bad parts. That he likes the game or not, I don't care. But that he chooses to only mention the bad parts, that's something I do care about.

It is a bad review, by yours, by mine, by anyone's standards, and it deserves the comments. Those complaining about its quality are not stupid at all.

The Red Dragon:
Maybe he just likes DA2 more instead of The Witcher 2, some people do y'know. ;)

Some people like Star Wars Episode I better than Empire Strikes Back, too.

Dexter111:

PrinceOfShapeir:
And for those of you who are comparing it to the Classics like Baldur's Gate, recall that the first fights in Baldur's Gate are -very- simple and the combat system at the early levels is basically 'point, click, and watch.' RPGs having deep, complex combat systems is a fairly new thing. I cannot -think- of a classic RPG that had a really deep combat system. Certainly not the Isle Trinity of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape Torment. Certainly not Arcanum, much as I love her. Deus Ex's combat was difficult, but not complex. Complexity is not inherently good.

I'm not sure what game you played but the Baldur's Gate I remember was extremely difficulty especially in the early levels with multiple party-members able to die or permanently die from a few Gibberlings or Wolves because they had like 7-10 hp which is 1-2 hits. The game got gradually easier as you got more tactical options like spells, staffs and potions and a lot more HP (aside of some of the awesomely designed bosses and encounters that were all over the game).

Yeah, it was a pain in the ass, but it was not -complicated.-.

There's a difference between challenge and being difficult.
Challenge is fun, difficult is when something is just hard for the sake of being hard.

Unintuitive menu designs archaic mechanics. That kind of stuff. A lot of old classics fall into this category of obtuseness. Some new stuff does too.

Fallout
Baulder's Gate
Mortal Kombat (2011)
ME1 (See the inventory)

et cetera.

Amidst all this rage, let me just point this out to those who are still on the fence about purchasing this:

There are 11 pages worth of comments defending this game.
Most of those people defending Mr Tito are themselves saying it's an excellent game (albeit with some flaws).
Mr Tito himself said he'll be replaying this game over and over again.

Glean what you can.

PrinceOfShapeir:

Yeah, it was a pain in the ass, but it was not -complicated.-.

Neither is Witcher's 2 combat complicated. Maybe i do understand the word itself differently but, logically, is concept of not getting surrounded, avoiding blow in the back, not bashshing mindlessly at a guy with tower shield, avoiding getting hit by using dodge/parry/spells or using explosive to control larger groups is somewhat complicated?

Just to use the brought up BG/IWD examples. Remember the mage management, with setting up spells to memorize then having to rest 8 hours so you can cast 3 magic missiles and 2 fireballs? The fact that you couldn't kill a troll if you haven't got acid/fire damage in your disposal? Mobs immune to damage from non magic (at least +1) weapons? The whole deal with curing level drains, etc. AD&D had plenty of user-unfriendly concepts.

I wasn't planning on getting it anyway though i was hoping to maybe be convinved otherwise. I had no trouble with the first one even though it was sticky and difficult, but from the sounds of things The formula hasn't been improved enough to warrent an actual purchase.

So now i have to hope Bioware can make DA beter again or else i'm gonna be without a solid (clasic style) RPG.

Pillypill:
I wasn't planning on getting it anyway though i was hoping to maybe be convinved otherwise. I had no trouble with the first one even though it was sticky and difficult, but from the sounds of things The formula hasn't been improved enough to warrent an actual purchase.

So now i have to hope Bioware can make DA beter again or else i'm gonna be without a solid (clasic style) RPG.

And this is why half arsed reviews are bad.

Also the game doesn't try to hide mechanics or other information just to appear more complicated than it is.

There is a lot of info found in the journal including combat mechanics, how to find information about the monsters, what to do with mutagens or the materials required for a diagram. It's just that the reviewer ignores that resource because we all know if information is not slapped in the middle of your screen so big that you can read it from the other side of the room is not worth it.

You can also find data about the characters, locations, info and hints about the monsters (once you gathered data about them). They put a lot of effort into explaining the game and the world, it's not designed to be cryptic for the sake of being hardcore like the review implies.

How can Greg rail on The Witcher mechanics, and give it a 3.5, when the CLEARLY BROKEN DA2 got a 5/5?

Because he preferred DA2 to TW2. It's not that complicated.

One more thing to add in favor of Witcher: there are many games that were lucky to have good writers working on them, but TW2 has the best autobiography (Dandelion) that I've ever read to date in a video game. :)

What's going on with the piece of shit facebook comments? They're all just pissing on the Escapist. Shame on them.

Hmm...

This was like Zero Punctuation except not funny

I wonder if he gave Mount and Blade a better score, that'd be interesting.

I am actually surprised by how much this review pissed me off.
Really? "It's 2011 and I don't want to read my tutorial"? This is the main problem with the game? Oh, and is hard.
I have expected something like this in Yahtzee's review but here...
I have no words. I liked the reviews on the Escapist, but maybe it's time to look for another site.
Good job.

John the Gamer:
What's going on with the piece of shit facebook comments? They're all just pissing on the Escapist. Shame on them.

As you can see not only them.
Shame on the reviewer.

Okay, goodbye, Reqviemus. The Escapist will have to find a way to live without you.

Bostur:

If I were to cut down the difficulty every time I faced something difficult it wouldn't be nearly as much fun, so I try to avoid that except for the most extreme cases.
In TW2 the problem isn't that the game is too hard (on normal that is) but that it sometimes is too hard or confusing in the wrong places. For instance having to react quickly right after a loading screen, or having to react quickly while trying to read tutorial tips.

Haha that was a problem the first Witcher, too. You'd exit a conversation and like 5 dudes would be wailing on you with assorted medieval weaponry. But any game that actually has difficulty gets major points in my book.

No mention of the bad AI path-finding and the AI dialogue that keeps on repeating the same stuff over and over when you run past them? And what about the lack of horses?

I have to agree on the sometimes unresponsive controls. Dodging and switching weapons sometimes feels like the game mocks you. Quests do sometimes just outright not tell you what you need to do. But I don't care. The game isn't hard, it's rewarding.

You beat it and feel like you generally accomplished something instead of the fun being handed to you. It actually managed to make Quick Time Events (mostly the boxing) into a enjoyable thing for me. The combat is brutal, but so is the world and it would feel out of place if fighting several of the most vicious beings of the world was anything but bone-grindingly hard.

This wasnt really a review....
So much as a "I dont understand the workings and everything isnt built the exact way i like it" view.

I found combat absurdly easy. So much so i switched from easy to normal, and then 5 minutes later, normal to hard. My friend told me it takes some getting used to, and i wont argue, which is why i started on easy. But its definitely not "clunky".

Yes, you cant drink potions in combat. How many games have you won because you can sit there in a corner and mash the Pot button? And alot of the spells cast instantly. Others take a moment to cast. This is also for balancing reason. You can hit someone with a low damage push back in the blink of an eye, or you can take a moment to give yourself a damage negating shield. Being able to do the second one instantly would make it overpowered.

The interface works well enough. I dont like it, but im not going to bash it. You can click "Enter" to make a potion instead of constantly clicking. Not rocket science. Nor is drinking a potion before you go into dangerous areas.

When someone mentions "a cave that a dozen people have vanished into", you probably want to pop a few potions.

To be honest, i didnt care all that much for the first one. It was nothing ground breaking. And nether is this one. Im definitly not some "1337WITCHERFTWXX" fan boy. I never will. But this review is more of a complaint form then an insightful look into the game.

Also, I laughed me gosh-darn arse off at the LOTR's joke. Im glad this game has so much humor to it, blunt or not. Its refreshing to not have another stark, joke-less ride into a dark RPG.

Keava:
*snip*

When I first heard of Metacritic, I thought it would embody the second opinion approach, rather than just average meaningless numbers. Its a shame that so much emphasis is put on the broken numerical rating system. I agree, second opinions are very valuable, but I'm pretty sure reviewers would just feature the ones that bolstered their own opinion.

It be nice if we didn't need to gamble on games. In other words, paying full price just to find out if we like them. I think there should be full version demos where you can play for 5 hours or something and pay like $1-5, so you can see whether you actually like the game.

Karinnare:

PrinceOfShapeir:
A reviewer plays a game and -reports his feelings-.

Prince, although I agree with the rest of your post, the whole review explanation you give misses the point; it's ok for the dude writing the article to state his opinion on the important aspects of a game he's played, but what do you do when he states it nonetheless without actually playing the whole game? Or even half of it by the looks of the article. :) Or worse, he played the whole game and stated impressions only of the beginning phase and a couple of flaws in the next village...

Honestly, if you ignore the DA2/TW2 arguments, there's more to learn about what the game has to offer from the comments than from the article itself.

I agree, the negative aspects Greg listed are there; but where's mention about the plenitude of choices, about how they affect the rest of the walkthrough and about how if you play it twice you'll get a whole new story (give different choices ofc). Where's mention of the characters you meet throughout the game and how are they given a personality of their own? About how the world around you tries to copy a living one? (if it rains, they take cover under roofs, when the sun sets, they gather around fires, etc... instead of standing still in one place all game long). These are good things the game has to offer, and they should be mentioned, not left aside.

I can continue the list...

And after seeing 3 pages of criticism about the beginning, but almost no word of the good parts that come later in the game, I do believe that either he didn't play the whole game, or that he did and left the good parts untold (which would be worse in my case).

The game has good parts, and bad parts. That he likes the game or not, I don't care. But that he chooses to only mention the bad parts, that's something I do care about.

It is a bad review, by yours, by mine, by anyone's standards, and it deserves the comments. Those complaining about its quality are not stupid at all.

QFT

As strange as this sounds, but this might be the most objective comment I've seen regarding this whole debacle. And now that I go back to read the review again, you're right, he refers to pretty much only the beginning where it kicks your ass.

rsvp42:

abija:

A reviewer thoroughly plays the game analyzes all aspects and points the good things and the flaws. You know, so the reader gets an idea of what he might like or not in the game.
This review is more like a first impression of the game both in the way is written and in level of analysis.

A quick look at Metacritic would let curious customers know that this review is slightly lower than the average. The game's getting stellar reviews for the most part and if any RPG fan is making the purchase decision based entirely on Tito's opinion, they're doing it wrong. So what's at stake here and why people are getting so up-in-arms over it? I can only assume that people are idle/bored like me and are just killing time by debating online.

I think you and I both know people pay more attention to negative reviews
Noone trusts glowing reviews.
I don't know why, it may be journalistic integrity is long gone, people don't trust companies not to buy out reviewers I don't know

Thats why negative reviews like this, ones that are based on logical fallacies(the game didn't tell me fire was bad, so I'm not gonna dodge it)is really damaging, because of the false impression they give to readers on the fence and this is especially so because the amount of people negative reviews draw in.

Thats why people call Greg out on it, especially in light of DA2 review, a game with far more glaring flaws and bad design choices and he gave it a five stars calling it the pinnacle of RPG games
Its not consistent and really draws suspicion to the review process for the site
He will forever draw comparisons to that damning review, because it was so incredulous that flaws as big and as bad that game had were ignored and he can't do the same for other games which have slight problems.

AsurasFinest:
[quote="rsvp42" post="6.287136.11347636"][quote="abija" post="6.287136.11347487"]

Thats why people call Greg out on it, especially in light of DA2 review, a game with far more glaring flaws and bad design choices and he gave it a five stars calling it the pinnacle of RPG games
Its not consistent and really draws suspicion to the review process for the site
He will forever draw comparisons to that damning review, because it was so incredulous that flaws as big and as bad that game had were ignored and he can't do the same for other games which have slight problems.

I totally agree with what you say. The DA2 review makes THIS review look fishy. I may never be able to decipher why the tastes of the reviewer lean one way and not the other, but I think the main problem for him here was the difficulty.

I can understand that. Some of the fights in this game bordered on ridiculously hard...however, every one can be done even on hard difficulty with a change of strategy.

Things I don't understand are how he feels the interface was cripplingly bad...to me, the interface was just fine. It resembled that of other RPGs, and I don't see how it's any worse than Dragon Age 2's.

He complains there is no way to quickly make multiple potions; But there is...by hitting the ENTER key you can quickly make multiple potions. And if you are using a game pad, it's even easier...you just hit A and it makes one.

But the most hilarious thing that I find wrong with the review is how he points out that he feels silly ransacking people's homes for loot...when you do the exact same thing in Dragon Age 2 and he made no mention of it in that review.

bob1052:

If you look at the four dialog options at the very start of the game you get:

"The morning, the king summoned me."
"The assault."
"What ultimately happened to the dragon?"
"We split up at the monastery."

If you look at them it is immediately obvious that the first one starts at the beginning, and the next three all refer to things you have no idea about.

What assault is happening? What dragon is involved? When did we go to a monastery?

Choosing the morning, which part of the impossible to see through deception is listed as the first option, defines the assault and provides tidbits on the dragon, leaving you at the top of a siege tower awaiting the assault to begin.

That leads you to the next logical, chronological, and amazingly, the second choice on the list: "The assault". The first battle you get in is a skirmish in which you walk around with no enemies swinging at you, instead they are all preoccupied with other combatants and you, along with the tool tips that, according to the review you die if you even glance at them, but really you have as long as you need with them in this no danger situation, can practice all you want chopping enemies down from behind. You then go through progressively increased difficulty fights, starting with two enemies as soon as you drop off the wall. Then you face an knight in full plate and a guard with a shield and eventually you reach the so man in charge.

After completing the assault you have the few tidbits about the dragon you picked up earlier, but no clue about any monastery, so the next logical choice appears to be the dragon. This ends at the monastery and guess which choice you have left.

The idea that this prologue is cryptic and in need of Dan Brown (note: he doesn't actually write good mysteries, he just makes them so incoherent and twisting needlessly and endlessly but still) to properly decode and that it doesn't serve as a proper tutorial is bullocks.

Here's where I disagree. I think they are not cryptic, but misleading, because when you look at this screen for the first time you have no idea that clicking on one of these will take you to replay a tutorial. Obviously it still makes a lot of sense to go with the first one: but its quite standard for dialogue trees in RPGs to be structured so that you can ask other questions to get some context before selecting the option that moves the dialogue forward. Sometimes in these cases, choosing this particular 'main' response will lock you out of the other options, and you miss the chance to pick up on potential information.

So for gamers who have been conditioned to ask around before they get to the point in a dialogue tree, The Witcher 2 presents us with several standard responses - and then for no reason chooses to phrase one of them as a question. But not just a question, oh no: a question about a dragon: a hitherto un-introduced element of the plot, and if I'm not mistaken, one that makes people sit up and take notice. If you didn't know beforehand that these dialogue responses would take you to replay sections of the game, and out of nowhere the game brings up a dragon: I'd say it's fairly logical for someone to pick that response. Because after all, they're going to want to know what the deal is with a dragon, and that's what the question is vaguely getting at.

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