Do I recommend this game?! - Does a leshen hate dimeritium bombs, relict oil, silver swords and igni? Hell yes!
I rarely get "hyped" for games, or anything else really, but I had a feeling that the guys at CD PROJEKT RED would not let me down with this one, so around 9.5 months ago, I pre-ordered this game and patiently waited for my steam account to give birth to a rugged, emotionless, gravel voiced, monster hunting baby, and boy is it a beautiful baby!
This game lived up to all my expectations and then some. This isn't your dad's open world rpg game with nothing to do but run for miles and miles in snow and then occasionally whack a monster or two with your monotonous one button combat, no... this game is something completely different, the combat, the quest structure, the dialogue choices that actually impact the outcome of the game, the graphics, the music, the optimization, everything is just perfect and makes this game incredibly fun to play.
So, like in the past two games, you play a witcher/an adventurer... a monster slayer enthusiast, if you will, named Geralt, who is looking for his protege Cirilla (he refers to her as his daughter, so you know they're tight!) who is being pursued by the wild hunt. But even though he has to find her as quickly as possible, along his journey Geralt will find time to stray off the main course, as you do in open world games, and pick up an occasional secondary quest, a witcher contract, a gear set scavenger hunt map, play some magi...err hearthsto... I mean gwent! he'll play gwent... (a card game that took me some time to appreciate, but once I won a few cards from random merchants, I really got into it).
The game world consists of 3 major separate maps (you can freely travel between them) White Orchard, Velen/Novigrad and Skellige, and while White Orchard and Velen are somewhat similar, and are mostly woodland maps, well, Velen has some swamp areas and a giant city in it (it's so big and full of quests that it might as well be a separate area), Skellige is a snow covered, viking inspired map which consist of one big island and a few smaller ones.
If you're wondering if there is much to do in such a large game world, hell yeah there is! You'll be done with White Orchard in about 5-7 hours if you 100% it, but the other two maps are just chock-full of quests, and it'll take you days to play through them. I have 110 hours game time as I'm writing this, and I'm not done with either of them yet.
Onto the "goods" and the "bads". It's a pretty game, so there are no uglies, well...
+ The graphics are just amazing for an open world game, sharp textures on most objects and most main characters (Geralt and his friends especially), light effects, shadows, grass density, facial expressions, view distance... everything is just jaw dropping gorgeous.
+ Sound design is pretty good, nothing you wouldn't expect from an AAA title, good medieval tunes while running around outside of combat, dynamic and intense music when you're in combat, no complaints there.
Voice acting is a step up from Witcher 2, which itself was a huge step up from the first game, and while not perfect it's still good, and the important thing is, story related characters are voiced really, really well.
+ Gameplay! While the combat is somewhat hindered by the controls, it's still pretty fun. The sign system gives it variety and a tactical approach to each fight (especially at the two hardest game difficulties). The witcher contract quests are especially a blast to play (they are my favorite part of the game), where you have to detective your way to the monster you have to kill, or not kill, you never know...
+ Optimization is pretty good, I locked my game to 30fps on my i7 920 @3Ghz, gtx 660ti OC and 8gb of ram, and I can play it on ultra at 1200p, with shadows and foliage draw distance at medium, ambient occlusion turned off and without the nvidia hair thing...
- Not everything is flower petals and fancy chocolates and cute baby unicorns, sadly... the controls and combat are somewhat clunky, and are the only bad thing about this game... controls especially. Sometimes Geralt acts like he can't turn around in place, and instead he makes a wide circle which makes movement in tight indoor areas, and under water a controller dropping/face palming/deep sighing pain.
Roach, Geralt's trustry horsey, suffers from the same leg disease as Geralt, the horse has a mind of her own, sometimes a twig can stop Roach at full gallop, sometimes she'll go left if you tell her to go right, well you get the idea, no point in beating a dead horse (ha!).
The combat, while it can be very fun and tactical, also suffers from bad controls from time to time, but not as much as the above examples.
Sometimes Geralt starts combat with his sword sheathed and starts fistfighting a boss, in most of those cases it'll take you more than a few button presses till the game figures out you're trying to take out your sword.
Also, the control scheme changes when you enter combat and wipes the jump button from existence, so if you're stuck in a small space surrounded by a knee high fence, prepare to die!
- some characters have bad textures which really stands out when you talk to them.
All in all, this game definitely lived up to my expectations, it's my new favorite open world rpg (sorry Oblivion), and while not entirely perfect, with the controls and whatnot... in my opinion, it's as perfect as any game can get in this day and age. I really can't give it less than a perfect score - 10/10.