The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Review

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Edli1:
lol it's been a while since a game made casuals cry. The last one was DA:O where those who understood how it worked just breezed through the game and the casuals would cry on the forums till Bioware patched the difficulty of the game.

TW2 is not hard, it just punishes those who refuse to learn how it works. Although it may look like a hack&slash game it is far from it. If the first thing you do is button mashing hoping to roll over the enemies than you're doing it wrong and of course you'll die.
The combat have rhythm, maybe is not as obvious as in the first game but is still there. Abusing your left click is not the way to go, you have to time the attacks. You target the one that is in front of you so you can quickly change targets to keep the combat flow and combined with the rhythm and fast/heavy attacks you end up doing some pretty crazy combos.

Of course one with a short attention span will never figure it out

As for alchemy, in this game is a must not an afterthough. In case you missed it the game gives you a crapton of ingredients and that's because it expects from you to make use of it with traps, bombs and potions.

Yeah I know some casuals may quote me saying that I just want to play the game and don't care about all that complicated mumbo jumbo. Well the game was not made for you. Devs never said that they will "streamline" the game for the masses so even my granma could play it. Love it or hate it, I'm glad these guys didn't make a game that you can finish with just one awesome button.

so can you explain to me how targeting is done in this game. For me it's pretty broken. all this timing stuff is nothing new it's been there in gaming for quite some time and quite a number of us are familiar with that. But using timing in this game becomes utterly useless when you get swamped by enemies and you trap spell is taking way too long to trigger.

Tactical combat starts with the targeting mechanic if that doesn't work properly tacitcs often go out of the window.

Press Alt.

Stop planting traps right infront of enemies.

Just solved your problems - can you now call yourself broken?

rsvp42:

Blah blah

How many times am I going to have to repeat myself?

The issue is NOT that he "doesn't like it". The issue IS that he DIDN'T PUT IN THE EFFORT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY AND FOR THAT REASON HE CONCLUDES HE DIDN'T LIKE IT.

User

Error

You have to understand that as a reviewer, we go by experience. If the game doesn't communicate something to the player - even if it's located somewhere else but doesn't *tell* you it's located there - that can make for a less engaging experience. A good tutorial teaches you how to play the game in a smooth, integrated manner. Reading a manual and lines of text is not a smooth, integrated manner, especially when (from how it sounds) Witcher 2 just throws you in the deep end and expects you to swim.

Are you really suggesting a game should tell you with more than a tooltip info that details for your quests are located in your journal? Because he complains about it both in the written and video review.
Also, how come this professional revision gives me the strong impression that the reviewer didn't play past C1 and I'd expect a good reviewer to have finished this game at least twice or at least experiment a lot with the results of your choices?

Why does he barely mention huge features like multiple path story, truly meaningful choices and a lot of quests having multiple solutions yet he amply complains about not having a queue in the crafting menu when you can just happy spam enter and craft same item multiple times?
Those are huge features that took a lot of work and attention to detail to pull of properly and are what rpg fans demanded for a long time and they were even advertised a lot by the devs, yet instead of checking how those turned out, he clings on various irrelevant minor fluff that it's not done like he thinks it should be done.
It's like someone would review SC2 and complain about how there aren't chat channels on BNet, how he can't rotate camera, how you can't zoom out and UI takes too much of the screen, how when some marines can't shoot the others don't move closer to make room etc. You know, all the irrelevant and some slightly ignorant stuff that totally misses the bigger picture.

You can hide behind personal opinion however you want, it's still a very poor review and that has nothing to do with the rating at the end.

This game is actually a good way to see who is an old gamer at heart. I've seen a playthrought where the guy dies like 15 times at one fight, never tries any new sign, new tactic, never checks his inventory (to find that he has bombs there). All he does is rush in, die, and call the game a bugged shit. I believe too many of reviewers actually got so spoiled with DA press button for awsome that they cannot appreciate even moderatly complicated fighting system (I mean roll, parry, M1 +M2 and keep quen up- how hard is that?)

Also giving 5/5 to a HORRIBLE DA2 and 3.5 to W2? God, I know it's stupid but it's so hard not to think they are getting payed by BioWare now. MAybe TW2 should buy some adds on Escapist?
Seriously, this game isn't flawless but it's damn good. Especially in comparison with DA2...
Shame on you.

Calibretto:

rsvp42:
snip

I see so in front of the court and jury are you going to say W2 is worse then DA2?

What? No, I think I've said multiple times that I like TW2. It looks a lot nicer than DA2 and feels better crafted overall. I do like the companions in DA2 better though, so far. But I like them both. What part of my post said that TW2 was worse and why am I in a court metaphor?

"One particular moment stuck out: when Geralt openly mocks the plot of The Lord of the Rings as a frivolous fairy tale, it feels like such parody is beneath the integrity the game achieves the rest of the time."

But LOTR is a frivolous Fairy Tail.It doesn't even hold a candle for The Witcher or the Game of Thrones series.LOTR is just another overblown thing that I'll never understand.

"I appreciate games that make you think - but I got stuck for about 5 minutes so I had to google the solution even though all the required information was given to me in spoken dialogue and also resides in my Journal. So, really, I don't appreciate games that make you think."

so you go on about how dumbed down DA2 is to come playing witcher2 and complaining that its too complicated?

failures =P

beastrn:

rsvp42:

Blah blah

How many times am I going to have to repeat myself?

The issue is NOT that he "doesn't like it". The issue IS that he DIDN'T PUT IN THE EFFORT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY AND FOR THAT REASON HE CONCLUDES HE DIDN'T LIKE IT.

User

Error

And the reason is because the game barely introduces anything and throws you into hard multi-enemy fights and expects you to learn by dying instead of ramping up the difficulty over time or giving a simple tutorial.

I'm not saying his score was "correct," I'm saying get over it because it's arbitrary. He had a different initial experience than you and its reflected in his review. Woop-de-doo. Go back to playing the game and forget all about this.

This is why they didn't originally have scores with their reviews. Because it just causes stupid comparisons and complaining like this. Because he could have literally added another star onto this exact same review and video & there wouldn't be nearly as much whining. So what's the real problem? What he's saying or the arbitrary number he attached to it?

A little correction.

The map isn't in Cyrillic (that would be unusual, and a localization error, since Poland doesn't use it) it's in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glagolitic_alphabet

So, nobody is supposed to read it, it's just meant to look ancient. The alphabet (more like azbuka) has been dead for a thousand years, though they teach us to read it here as a novelty.

While I do agree with some parts of this review, I must point out that fighting in Witcher 2 is laughfully easy and not compley at all. I mean, it can be: On hard difficulty or if you want to use everything.
But otherwise, even on normal, it becomes VERY easy once you put at least one point on the skill that makes evades longer and two on Quen. Maybe get some vigor increasing and regenerating skills as well and group damage helps often. After that, all you have to go is to be careful not to get stabbed in the back (without Quen) because that kills Geralt almost instantly. Try and backstab every enemy with rolling around them and never deal out more than two or three blows without rolling in between. This recepie works with almost every enamy in the game, including bosses. Drawing your sword and rolling around is actually quicker than running too.
Point is: the game is indeed unbalanced.
Other than that, I found it amazingly good, as I'm a story fag. (I liked DA II as well and I don't think the two should be compared, even if they are similary in their dark fantasy setting and "story orientedness"...they just aim to say so different thing in a so different style.)
Also, I can't wait for ZP-s usual drama over "they are only standing and talking!!!" and a small rant about how QTEs are bad.

rsvp42:

snip

I wonder if you remember the tutorial to BG or BG2 or Fallouts (I remember having to remake my char after an hour - who would've thought agi should be always maxed)
So you believe that to die and learn from your mistake is a horrible design? If you don't die, the game is too easy because it never forces you to step up your game.
And there is this magical button J (in the game stands for journal) that explains EVERYTHING you missed. What's more it's accompanied by the button I (that, you guessed it, stands for inventory) that would reveal that you have bombs that make fights a lot simplier.

First thing I did was to experiment with signs *on my own*. I don't need a tutorial to tell me "you should probably check those abilities you have" as I'm not, you know, mentally handicapped. I took dieing actually as an encouragment to experiment. Then I found out to my amazement "wow mindcontroll sign turns 1v3 into 2v2" and "wow when I'm shielded I do not stagger from blows and actualy can jump into the fight for a few strikes".

I know I won't convince you but newer console games spoiled players, reviewers included. They want instant gratification, "press button for awsome" mechanics, and do not enjoy challanges (that is challanges that actually recquire them to do anything else that reload and do the same thing again). This review is a great example of that.

And the capital sin here is that the reviewer didn't point out at all that this game has biggest decision based changes to content and world in any game in years. It's not ME "changing a few dialogue lines" but "changin the whole location of CH2" with completely diffrent town, quests, allies and even main quest and it's consequences. This is what truly amazed me, that I missed around 33% of the game on my 1st playthrough (probably 50% as I'm watching various playthroughs now). How the hell it's good journalism not to notice such a huge feature?

stiffy:
Is this a review of the full game or the first couple of hours? I've heard a lot of reviews talk about the HUGE difficulty curve that flips towards the end. Greg doesn't mention this at all in this review. I'm only at the en of the first chapter, but it seem like he only played a few quests of chapter 1 and filled in the rest. I would think a review this critical would point out the disparity in the ending's difficulty.

I don't believe it has bearing on the accuracy of his review, but a simple "review in progress" indicator might help.

He did actually say that the game gets easier as you go on, in the video.

beastrn:
Press Alt.

Stop planting traps right infront of enemies.

Just solved your problems - can you now call yourself broken?

LOL!

ALT locks onto specific targets. it doesn't solve my primary problem, which is the lack of proper targeting mechanism. pressing alt is the worst thing you can do in this game. it makes rapidly switching between multiple targets is even harder. easy way to get killed when you get surrounded.

What makes you think i plant traps right in front of enemies. Planting traps inside combat is suicide anyway.

ElectroJosh:
I love the game and, to be honest, thought that the complaint about the steep learning curve were exagerrated. This review changed my mind on the issue a bit. After reading this I realise that I happened to play the prologue in the "correct" sequence - so the mechanics were explained as I needed to know them. I now realise that I was lucky to have done it this way as the game allows you to play them in whatever order you choose (which would be quite hard).

Fair point but I still love it. I thinks its fantastic but could not unequivocally recommend it to everybody and anybody.

They are labelled though - Roche asks you to recount the events of the day, and the options are listed both in order, and the first is "I was summoned to the king in the morning", whilst the next is rather obviously a sequence of events.

Soviet Heavy:
This review was done professionally, it stated its opinion, and it did not attack anyone.

If you want a reason to get mad at somebody, look at this video.

That video makes me appreciate the difficulty of the newer Ninja Gaiden games so much. Being counter-attacked for big damage, chased by the enemy, or being attacked from all angles isn't really cheap (in my opinion), but exploding shuriken from off-screen at multiple angles sure is.

So very sad to see members of the gaming press too lazy to RTFM. I only use that term because the reviewer did in the video. At least he came out and admitted it. I actually laughed at myself for thinking I could just dive in and after getting my head handed to me a few times I closed the game and dug out the manual.

More to the topic, I agree the interface was not really the best done, but since there is a console port coming I imagine the UI was set up to be usable for both console and PC. I would have preferred a more PC friendly UI but the one we have here is no worse and indeed far better than some I've seen.

I was a little ticked that I could not chug potions in combat at first but this was actually a fan request and forces you the player to plan your actions ahead of time. I mean really, does it make sense to stop in the middle of a sword fight and chug a potion?

Overall decent review but if the gaming press no longer has the patience for complex difficult games then I guess the whole industry is doomed to go into the realm of dumbed down crap like DA 2.

rsvp42:

Calibretto:

rsvp42:
snip

I see so in front of the court and jury are you going to say W2 is worse then DA2?

What? No, I think I've said multiple times that I like TW2. It looks a lot nicer than DA2 and feels better crafted overall. I do like the companions in DA2 better though, so far. But I like them both. What part of my post said that TW2 was worse and why am I in a court metaphor?

So can you understand peoples problems with DA2 getting 5/5 and W2 getting 3.5?

cieply:

rsvp42:

snip

I wonder if you remember the tutorial to BG or BG2 or Fallouts (I remember having to remake my char after an hour - who would've thought agi should be always maxed)

i can't remember there being much of a tutorial in BG I & II although there was something there. FO 1 didn't have anything. But FO: 2 had one as far as i can remember.

cieply:
So you believe that to die and learn from your mistake is a horrible design? If you don't die, the game is too easy because it never forces you to step up your game.

Dying is fine but dying because you don't know what is the block button is not fine at all. TW2 isn't that bad but it pretty bad. Tutorial should be an exercise in hand holding. After it's done players can be dumped into what ever difficulty that they prefer.

jklinders:

Overall decent review but if the gaming press no longer has the patience for complex difficult games then I guess the whole industry is doomed to go into the realm of dumbed down crap like DA 2.

I don't think the reviewer is talk about about complexity here at all. And DA 2 on higher difficulties require far more tactical play than witcher 2. what more 12 hours into the game witcher 2 has become mindlessly easy combat experience much like DA:2 felt like in easy mode.

What witcher does far better that DA 2 is on the story, narrative & atmosphere. Combat wise it's no better than gothic 4.

Well, i may check the game out.
It really has got loads of different reviews from horrible to best thing ever.
Seems interesting.

dantoddd:
snip

But it says! There is really nothing else I can tell, it tells you how to block and use signs, sure, in crappy tooltips but that was really all I needed (I missed some things sure but checked journal then and it brought me up to speed).

cieply:
And the capital sin here is that the reviewer didn't point out at all that this game has biggest decision based changes to content and world in any game in years. It's not ME "changing a few dialogue lines" but "changin the whole location of CH2" with completely diffrent town, quests, allies and even main quest and it's consequences. This is what truly amazed me, that I missed around 33% of the game on my 1st playthrough (probably 50% as I'm watching various playthroughs now). How the hell it's good journalism not to notice such a huge feature?

I can think of 2 possible reasons. The first is that so many games that claim to have a choice only shift a couple of lines of dialogue and the reviewer thought "Oh, a choice, probably won't change anything significant" and so didn't mention it. The second if you only do 1 playthrough and do no further checking/reading, you would never know that there are large branches of the story that get changed if you make different choices. However, considering the original Witcher was praised for it, I'm very surprised it wasn't mentioned.

dantoddd:

so can you explain to me how targeting is done in this game. For me it's pretty broken. all this timing stuff is nothing new it's been there in gaming for quite some time and quite a number of us are familiar with that. But using timing in this game becomes utterly useless when you get swamped by enemies and you trap spell is taking way too long to trigger.

Tactical combat starts with the targeting mechanic if that doesn't work properly tacitcs often go out of the window.

You target the one in front of you. It's the camera that does the targeting job in this game which I think it fits the playstyle in here. For example when you're in the middle of 3 soldiers you start with one and quickly go over the others by turning towards them.
You can see when the guy behind you is raising the sword to hit you then turn the camera quickly and interrupt his attack while keeping the combo going. You don not have to stick with one soldier alone, keep rotating the attacks between each soldier and if you do it right the combo goes higher and higher. You just have to keep an eye and time the attacks.

Swordplay is quite fun and satisfying once you understand how it works. For those who don't it will feel clunky and it will not make sense.

Calibretto:
So can you understand peoples problems with DA2 getting 5/5 and W2 getting 3.5?

There exists a reviewer who prefers DA2 to W2. That is not unbelievable. DA2 has better characterization and is a hell of a lot more welcoming. I personally disagree. While W2 was hard to get into due to questionable tutorial structure, DA2 was impossible to enjoy due to sloppy design. Clearly, the unforgiving nature of W2 annoyed Mr. Tito more than DA2's lazy framework. I am honestly surprised that's not the dominant opinion. Just be happy that most reviewers managed to enjoy W2. Complaining when someone disagrees and insulting their gaming ability is pathetic.

I can think of 2 possible reasons. The first is that so many games that claim to have a choice only shift a couple of lines of dialogue and the reviewer thought "Oh, a choice, probably won't change anything significant" and so didn't mention it. The second if you only do 1 playthrough and do no further checking/reading, you would never know that there are large branches of the story that get changed if you make different choices. However, considering the original Witcher was praised for it, I'm very surprised it wasn't mentioned.

W1 was praised for it, they pointed to that feature in almost all their presentations of the game, the fans keep asking for it over and over again and cling to every tiny bit of C&C like the ones found in Bioware games. It also requires a lot of work to be done properly and lots of attention to detail.
Yet this reviewer doesn't even bother with it and instead complains about problems/weird decision designs regarding crafting, UI and inventory (it must be some safe zone for reviewers since most RPGs are plagued with them and they always hurry to surgically point out said flaws) or wonderfully relates us his inability to experiment with the game without having his ego hurt by the "load last save" message or how having quest information in the journal entry is too hidden for him.

who doesn't read the manual for an RPG ?
i've never done that in my entire life and i've been playing video games since 1976.

the fact he apparently plays D&D if anything makes that even more baffling.

while its disappointing my favourite game of the year thus far has received a low review on my favourite gaming site the review made a few ok points i guess and i am at an advantage being a seasoned player of the first game.

i haven't seen any of the control lag people talk about personally but then that could be down to my system and a few tweaks i made.

the menus and the bag system etc do have issues not least of which is they removed the bank system and added a crafting system and its mats at the same time.

the group combat mechanic also has issues not that it matters a great deal once you have some points in swords.

the potions do not.

firstly drinking potions before a monster fight is lore correct for Witchers. this is a role playing game so expect at least some concessions to be made to actually playing the role you are in.

secondly pre preparation in terms of oils and potions before a fight adds a strategic lore (yes "lore" that you are supposed to go and find out about before you try and fight something) and situational based element to hunting monsters that would be completely negated if you could simply chug potions in combat and change your entire set up.

and btw if you are using spells every single second and multiple potions on bog standard human mobs you're over playing that aspect of gameplay.

not once did i use anything more than a blade oil on a standard humans. i used spells but not nearly as much as i see people trying to use them and failing in some of these videos. you aren't a wizard and the two large two handed swords on your back are pretty much a huge visual clue as to what you should be focusing on when it comes to combat with normal armed humans.

no game is the second coming (certainly not DA2)

the Witcher 2 is a flawed work of near genius made for a fraction of the budget of its nearest competitors by an independent developer producing only its second ever game and supplying some extremely nice after sales support to customers (the Enhanced Edition patch for the first game, the total removal of DRM after launch and free DLCs)

while it is flawed many of the issues could easily be fixed in future patches and give that's exactly what the company did with the first game i'm hopeful that at least some of them will be addressed in the future.

while i don't expect reviewers to color their supposedly honest opinions (even if i do find some of aspects of their approach to the game baffling given the genre in question) it would be nice to think given those credentials the escapist community could at least attempt to lend some balanced support to an independent developer who shows a great deal of promise as opposed to "wha ? its awesome!" Vs "not its not it's crap!".

all that said i'm taking bets on the 360 version starting on the "easy" preset.
any takers ?

PS. remember "expansions" ? you'll see a proper old school expansion for Witcher 2 before any Witcher 3. just laying that out there as my call on the subject.

PSS. i'm going to make one single negative and accusatory comment about this review: given the nature of the company telling people to wait til the game is basically in the bargain bucket is a low cheap shot and i'm calling you out on it. luckily however you're not actually that important especially given this review is basically a week late.

I just use lots of grapeshot bombs. Takes care of groups of enemies nicely. Groups of enemies is really the only hard part as you take massive damage if hit from behind. Use some alchemy people. It's useful.

sunburst313:

Calibretto:
So can you understand peoples problems with DA2 getting 5/5 and W2 getting 3.5?

There exists a reviewer who prefers DA2 to W2. That is not unbelievable. DA2 has better characterization and is a hell of a lot more welcoming. I personally disagree. While W2 was hard to get into due to questionable tutorial structure, DA2 was impossible to enjoy due to sloppy design. Clearly, the unforgiving nature of W2 annoyed Mr. Tito more than DA2's lazy framework. I am honestly surprised that's not the dominant opinion. Just be happy that most reviewers managed to enjoy W2. Complaining when someone disagrees and insulting their gaming ability is pathetic.

Dude I am not going to be a broken record and do a wall of text but I will try to convery my point as simple as possible for you ( as you obviously didnt read my previous posts).
90-100% of people here would not put DA2 and the W2 in the same ballpark.
If a movie critic does a stupid review he gets called out for it. Just look at rotten tomatoes.
Having an opinion does not sanction you against criticism I mean what drugs are you on.
AND NOW THAT GAMES ARE ART why should it be any differant then movies !!!!??
This isn't just a casual review by joe blow this is the BLOODY ESCAPIST AND WE DEMAND QUALITY capiche?

John Funk:
For a reviewer, you really can't get any more objective than "I found that core mechanics of the game were poorly designed."

And from that are we supposed to infer that Button==Awesome is by contrast a good game mechanic design?

And the endless mob respawns, and the infinitely reused and recycled areas, and ultimately meaningless choices in a pretty linear storyline...

Surely you can see how the claim of objectivity is on shaky ground when the game with all those issues got a perfect 10 and got labeled "the pinnacle of RPGs" by the same reviewer.

He HAS a point. I love the game, myself, but yeah, when you pick the Dragon Chapter first, the game has a brutal learning cliff to cover. And the mechanics CAN be odd for a lot of people who are used to other games. I play a lot of foreign titles, so I'm used to wonky interfaces, but not everybody is. Mr. Reviewer even said it has some excellent storytelling, he just couldn't get into the mechanics. Which is totally valid, I think. YOu do die a lot trying to figure out the right strategies.

There is no excuse whatsoever for the "can't drink potions in combat" mechanic

Want to try it sometime? I assure you that drinking anything in combat is impossible.

dantoddd:

jklinders:

Overall decent review but if the gaming press no longer has the patience for complex difficult games then I guess the whole industry is doomed to go into the realm of dumbed down crap like DA 2.

I don't think the reviewer is talk about about complexity here at all. And DA 2 on higher difficulties require far more tactical play than witcher 2. what more 12 hours into the game witcher 2 has become mindlessly easy combat experience much like DA:2 felt like in easy mode.

What witcher does far better that DA 2 is on the story, narrative & atmosphere. Combat wise it's no better than gothic 4.

Most of the reviewer's frustration would have been avoided by reading the manual rather than depending on in game tool tips to learn how to play. That was in the part of my post that you did not quote. You know my astonishment that a member of the gaming press couldn't be arsed to RTFM. frankly that was pathetic.

You may note that I otherwise agreed on other points made about the UI.

And the only reason DA 2 can pretend to be more tactical is because DA 2 gave you a party of 4 to nanny over and had non mystical enemies appearing out of thin air on all sides all the time. DA 2 has more in common with a classic side scrolling beat 'em up like Golden Axe than it does with any RPG I've played. To each their own I guess.

dantoddd:

beastrn:
Press Alt.

Stop planting traps right infront of enemies.

Just solved your problems - can you now call yourself broken?

LOL!

ALT locks onto specific targets. it doesn't solve my primary problem, which is the lack of proper targeting mechanism. pressing alt is the worst thing you can do in this game. it makes rapidly switching between multiple targets is even harder. easy way to get killed when you get surrounded.

What makes you think i plant traps right in front of enemies. Planting traps inside combat is suicide anyway.

Actually it isn't.I've salvaged some pretty screwed situations by kiting and planting traps.

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