I played The Witcher 2 first. The Witcher 2 is a fantastic game, full of political intrigue, tight combat, and enough moral gray areas to satisfy the gothiest of goths or the fenciest of fence-sitters. The setting was a fresh step away from the usual dragons and dungeons, brought to life by beautiful visuals of countrysides, crypts, and city-scapes. And then I played The Witcher.
Fair story and pretty awesome main character in Geralt, the White Wolf. Upgrades in weapons feel heavy- your main weapons change once in each of the four chapters. If you want a Diablo loot lottery (lootery?), keep looking. I have gotten new armor once in 60 hours of play, and that was because I started with no armor. This game makes you feel like you're working for your upgrades, and there's a lot to be said for that these days.
Geralt of Rivia is one of the best characters that I've come across in a lot of years of playing video games. His voice acting leaves much to be desired, but his methods, motives, and skills are pretty incredible to play. By the end of the game, just like with the equipment, Geralt feels like a cross between Wolverine, Scott Hamilton, and a long-time alcoholic. Potions play a big part in game strategy, and Geralt learns to handle his liquor over the course of the game- turning him into a one-man army with just a few swigs. His swordplay is pretty beautiful to watch by the end of the game, with many acrobatic twists and appropriately-heavy chops to keep you entertained while mindlessly clicking that mouse. Which brings me to my next point...
Unfortunately, this game falls down on three points- combat, travel, and questing. Combat is a click-on-beat affair, which makes combat incredibly mind numbing. I'm fighting a group? Let me switch to Group Combat Style and click. Oh, most of the group is dead? Let me switch to Heavy Style and click. Lather, rinse, and repeat for 3 days worth of time. There is no fast travel in this game (or I didn't find it), which is pretty awful considering Baldur's Gate and Diablo got this right in the 90's. And because of the last fact, the questing turns this game into "5k Simulator 2010". I never realized how much I don't like staring at the back of an albino's head for hours. Anyways:
Try this one out if...
- you like real heavy choice in your games
- you need an R-rated break from D&D
- you ABSOLUTELY need to know the backstory for The Witcher: Assassin of Kings
- you like to work for one of the best ending cutscenes around