To begin with I feel it is necessary to clarify several aspects which could distort what readers may think of my review, as it seems that many hardcore RPG fans, or indeed fans of 'The Witcher' series, level commonplace criticism of those who did not enjoy this game. It's infuriating to read that people who loved the series often patronise those who did not, claiming they don't enjoy 'true' RPG's or that they don't 'understand' the grand concept of the game. Likewise, it's equally as infuriating to reader hater troll's post things such as 'this game sucks coz the combat is lame', because that simply justifies the formers comments. So, as to not dilute the worth of this review, I:
do really enjoy RPG's.
do really understand the difference between an RPG and a game with RPG aspects, such as the ME series.
do enjoy the ME series, but wish it wasn't so black and white it it's good and evil approach.
did give the game a full chance, as I completed the game and played it for over 50 hours.
do prefer substance over style.
do not prefer COD or games that are about quick reflexes, in other words, games that are FPS's.
do understand the actual story.
also am not a child, so wasn't overawed or possibly manipulated by the 'adult' content.
did not play the game in spits and bursts/suffer from a short attention span, some of my favourite games/films are steadily paced and longer in length, encouraging a narrative over action.
Okay, so now those predispositions are established, my thoughts on the game are that its backdrop is intriguing, with racial, sexual and political undercurrents driving the world of Geralt. The story is interesting and the option to shape in-game decisions in a shades-of-grey approach is refreshing. Although good/bad choices work in games like KOTOR as it is ingrained the world of Star Wars, other games have adopted this approach as a lazy 'lets give off the illusion that we have a lot of choice, yet in reality we have 2' option.
However, we must remember that this is a game, an interactive medium wherein part of our enjoyment comes from our ability to play through the protagonist's development and narrative. The gaming content of The Witcher is totally dull. The quests, much like they are in the sequal, involve killing X amount of enemies to collect Y amount of pelts, in order to recieve money. These side quests are the oldest and most tiresome in the industry and the game in inundated with them.
Many of the other sidequests and indeed the main quests, are mainly aiming for you to run to one location, drop something off or deliver a message, then run back, and repeat and repeat. The constant loading times are an issue but they can be overlooked, yet they do obviously hinder the experience if the quests mainly involve running from A to B.
Talking to NPC's etc etc and ascertaining information, then getting information elsewhere is even acceptable, if the combat system was involving enough to keep the experience fresh. Now the combat system of a game is often a stick to beat you with by massive fans of RPG's or fans of The Witcher in general. If you claim 'the combat is dull', the accusation can be levelled 'oh if you want to have good combat then play an FPS you clearly don't understand RPG's' etc etc etc. Now this argument is total nonsense, of course, because your character Geralt is by default a character that uses combat. He is by title, a 'monster-slayer', and an enhanced one at that. Yet clicking your mouse over and over again is hardly a befitting reflexion of a monster-slayer and does little to portray his power to the player. Carefully timed 'clicks', yet through a real-time combat experience and not through a turn based one, gets tiresome rapidly.
Recently I read a comment that noted, 'oh I don't play COD and moan that it lacks RPG elements, so don't play The Witcher and moan that is has bad combat and isn't as action packed as an FPS'. I understand this point, yet there is a total difference. COD would not throw an RPG element down your throat. It doesn't force you to use RPG elements at every turn. The Witcher does force you to use the combat system at every turn. Much of your time is spent fighting, using the combat system. Therefore the combat is a massive factor in why the game is tedious (anyone playing through the swamp in Act II can testify to how repetitive and tiring killing reappearing 'downers' is).
The 'mature' content of the game would be welcomed if it was subtle enough to be effective. Games really should target a mature player, using sophisticated and unilluted stories in order to not pander to the lowest common denominator. Yet the blasé approach in The Witcher is unconvincing and often awkward. NPC's saying '♥♥♥♥' or '♥♥♥♥' or '♥♥♥♥' does not make the game more for adults, neither do the appearance of 'sex cards' where Geralt has the option to shag a hooker in order to look at a half naked lady for 3 seconds. Yes it may be 'mature content', but that doesn't make it mature. It's juvenile frequent appearance in the game is seemingly there for shock factor as opposed to adding to the experience of the game. The developers could have demonstrated the bleakness of the world through subtler ways, which wouldn't have giving the impression that they were just trying to impress kids through swearing and sex.
In essence the game is totally dull. The story and world can be engaging, but it's hard to care after clicking over and over for 2 hours whilst running from A to B.
I think the developers should be commended for creating a world that echoes the harsh realities of life, but they should reassess the gaming content. The bottom line is that the quests need to be more fun, the combat needs to be more engaging. Why create a world so sophisticated with an intriguing story yet dilute the experience through vanilla gameplay?
In conclusion, the game was not terrible, it just wasn't that fun. I find it difficult to see that anyone collecting 5 'downer' brains etc actually finds the task fun. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this reviews, comments are very welcomed.