The Witcher Is A Bit Patchy

By Jim Rossignol on September 19th, 2008 at 11:48 pm.


That’s right, The Witcher: Enhanced Edition patch is now available for those of you who bought the game the first time around. It’s a beefy 1.2gb and there’s a mirror here.

I’m grinding my way through the Enhanced Edition at the moment and finding The Witcher to be an uneven experience. There’s plenty to like about it – especially with Polish voice-acting and English subtitles glossing over the dodgy dialogue – the grim art style, decaying fantasy world, and general melee combat are all to my tastes. The mechanical elements of the RPG, however, are less slick. It’s full of annoyances in the way some quests are structured, as well as they way character development is introduced. These needed as much of an overhaul as the cosmetic stuff the Enhanced Edition dealt with. And sex cards thing? Wow. That’s so, so crass. I’ll probably write some more on the game generally when I’ve managed to get myself unstuck from the end of the first chapter.

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76 Comments »

  1. Feet says:

    Getting 750kbs from fileshack at the mo with only a 10 minute wait. I shelved The Witcher as soon as I heard the EE was being developed and never got off chapter one myself, but I have heard that the game picks up alot once chapter two gets going.

    EDIT: Ok to install you need to have a registered copy of the game, which means you’ll need your key. I’ve found the DVD box and the DVD, can I find the manual with the sticker on? Can I bollocks. -_-

  2. Jonas says:

    Oooh time to pick up my playthrough again. Can you load old savegames with EE or will I have to start over? Really don’t want to sludge through that swamp map again.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on those sex cards, Jim, because my own mind is not entirely made up about that.

  3. danarchist says:

    I loved the game but I got stuck in this whole spider cavein quest thing that i could never get past, then I started playing other games.

  4. Ogawa says:

    Please don’t talk about the sex cards. That’s such a boring topic.

  5. Jonas says:

    I beg to differ.

  6. Alex says:

    Thank god they let you download the language packs and bonus content separately. I think the EE version on Steam takes up about 14 gigs.

    (my unpatched installation is only 8.3)

  7. Kadayi says:

    After the legendary long rounds of all the entire RPS Crew hating the Witcher with a passion whilst the rest of the worlds RPGers loved it, I hope this isn’t going to be a very long exercise in self vindication (it’s a good 70 hour game). Also I agree the cards topics been done to death, no more fall back to that debacle.

    Cheers for GH linkie though, fast speeds. Patch on the download, will reinstall all tomorrow. ;)

  8. Shawn says:

    downloading now, filefront is giving me 1.8MB/sec…good stuff :) Reinstalling the game right now on my Vista partition…thankfully this game doesn’t come with Install activations that I have to worry about as a paid customer…cough…cough…

  9. Weylund says:

    @Jonas: Obviously, opinions are boring, Ogawa is totally right. We should all just talk about what Ogawa wants to talk about. That’s where my obviously-not-differing interests lie.

    Let’s start with ponies!

  10. Jonas says:

    I must admit, ponies do make a good topic…

  11. Marcin says:

    Here’s hoping this fixes my TAGES protection problem :/ Fackin’ DRM …

  12. Fetthesten says:

    @Jonas: Yes, the game supports old saves. Mine were intact and working, but I decided I wanted to start over anyway.

    And, those sex cards… what’s the big deal, really? I think they’re a poke in the player’s kidney, a way of saying “Hey, Geralt got his mack on and all you got was this picture of the girl’s tits.”

    Also, I really like the new script and voice acting. In my opinion The Witcher is now a genuinely good game where it was formerly a good-but-flawed one.

  13. Devin says:

    There are a lot of things in The Witcher that stop grating quite so much when you just imagine that they’re Frank Miller’s fault.

  14. Cian says:

    I’m quite fond of the Witcher, even without the EE (which like Feety up there, I abandoned once I heard of it). It’s atmosphere was charming in a grim, Polish fashion and its spin on the fantasy tropes was thoroughly entertaining.

  15. CrashT says:

    My copy of the boxed Enhanced Edition turned up today, there’s a lot of extra stuff with the boxed copy. I held of on buying The Witcher until I’d heard more people’s opinions and then once I heard about the Enhanced Edition I just decided to wait for that.

    So far I can say I’m rather enjoying myself.

    Sex Cards… Yeah well at least this is a game willing to admit that sex exists, if it had been made in America it would play out like a film from the 50s. A lot of suggestive looks and vague hints.

    I find the Sex Cards about as offensive as I find “Carry On…” films. Don’t try and take some political correct moral high ground, sex happens, there are much much more offensive ways of handling it than “Gotta bed them all” cards. Trust me, this is hardly Custer’s Revenge, it’s on the level of FHM if anything.

  16. Shawn says:

    I’m actually thinking about re-buying the Witcher EE through Impulse, just to show support, since the DRM is completely removed from it. After all the DRM BS this week, it’s money I wouldn’t mind spending. Impulse is big on only supporting non-intrusive DRM games, much like the new GOG.com site.

    If anyone’s interested:

    https://store.stardock.com/product.aspx?productid=ESD-IMP-W046

  17. Devin says:

    CrashT:

    If it were thoroughly shitty, sex cards wouldn’t bother me. Hell, if it were Leisure Suit Larry-esque and good, they wouldn’t bother me. The problem I had was that it was a decent game, not great but better than the average… It had a world with some horrible sexual politics, which, you know, is pretty realistic. It has a star who is a flawed hero: He does not countenance rape*, but he’s pretty willing to treat women very poorly in other ways, for instance by offering protection or money in exchange for sex. So far, okay. Those aren’t good things, but this isn’t a game about rainbows or ponies. If the game is about Geralt being heroic but also dastardly, that’s okay.

    But it’s not, see, because the player’s collecting these cards commemorating the times he had Geralt seduce, coerce, or bribe someone. That puts the player on the side of the creepy power-imbalance sex. And they’re not funny cards, they’re not sarcastic Achievements, they’re fairly nice art assets, there’s some narrative imbedded there which I’d rather like if it wasn’t creepy.** It’s as though there were substantial rewards in items, experience, or additional quests offered for this sort of lechery.***

    *Even the options to walk away from an assault-in-progress generally stress either a belief that “she can handle it” even though that’s patently false, which speaks to cowardice rather than acceptance of the act, or a belief that a Witcher is meant to fight monsters and never to shed human blood save in self defense, which is silly but at least kinda sorta makes sense.

    **The one for the witch in chapter one is particularly nice, and I rather liked the elven resistance fighter in chapter 2 as well… Having her teaching Geralt elvish in bed was a funny mental image. It’s just too bad that the game presents that as the obvious and logical reward to be received when you rescue someone from an attempted rape.

    ***The one plot point/quest I’ve found that is the result of (rather than the entrance to) a sex scene is also a result of one of the relatively rare cases where you’re sleeping with someone who actually seems to know and like you and who is your equal. That’s rather heartening, and makes me think that the cards were a misstep rather than a result of the developers being bad people. I wonder if whoever thought of the game mechanic was thinking of something cartoony and sarcastic, while the art director wasn’t on the same page and made them much nicer and more desirable bits to collect.

  18. Real Horrorshow says:

    There’s one thing people need to realize about the sex cards:

    Get the fuck over it already.

  19. Plinglebob says:

    I bought this game when it was first released and I’m hoping my edition of the Expanded Edition will come in the mail today (damn my addiction for collectors editions) and I think this is a game every PC gamer should buy for 3 reasons.

    Firstly, its a good game. Wasn’t a fan of some of the mechanics the first time through, but that never stopped it from being entertaining overall.

    Secondly, it tries to be different. It doesn’t use the standard good/evil concepts that other rpgs use and instead lets the player decide how they want to handle things. This sort of mature storytelling needs to be seen more often if games are going to progress as an artform.

    Lastly, the after sales service needs to be applauded and encouraged so other companies do the same. Its a group of programmers who saw the complaints of its customers and then set out to correct them and if thats not a positive thing, I dont know what is

  20. Jim Rossignol says:

    What I meant was that I will probably write more on The Witcher. “So crass” pretty much sums up all I have to say about the sex card stuff.

  21. Irria says:

    I honestly don’t understand all the hate on the cards. I thought it was kind of cool, actually and quite in the spirit of the original novel. You don’t complain, that FHM or Playboy have tits in them, do you?

  22. Joe says:

    M’eh. At the moment, my review sample doesn’t even work.

  23. Turin Turambar says:

    It has been established the poor taste of RPS staff. Most of them doesn’t like The Witcher but they liked Spore!

    :P

  24. Pavel says:

    Fuck that, I like those cards. I don’t know what people problem with them is. They are not mandatory, you don’t have to sleep with ANYONE, its all depending on player’s choice. So what the hell is the problem? And also, if you decide to fuck everything you can and collect them all, so what? Geralt IS a walking sex machine after all – good looking, charismatic motherfucker that can’t get you pregnant.
    Or you can sleep with only one woman in the whole game, with the love interest – Shani or Triss, again depending on player’s choice.

    Get over it, really.

  25. Jim Rossignol says:

    @ Turin: Actually that’s not true. I’ve enjoyed both, and had massive problems with both, so the RPS opinion/taste is divided on both. I’d give a thumbs up to Spore before The Witcher, at least so far. It has far broader appeal.

  26. Devin says:

    Irria:

    I actually want to like the cards. Some of the art’s rather nice and we wouldn’t play RPGs if we didn’t all have insane collecting compulsions. If they could do a little social refactoring for the sequel and get it to where collecting all the cards didn’t feel like you were complicit in some of the horrible shit that happened to get there, I’d be delighted. Won’t happen, though.

    Remember the Karma titles in Fallout? You got a little player reward for doing creepy and bad stuff there, too, but it was presented in a way that made it clear that the game was applauding you for doing a good job of playing a bad role, not celebrating that role.

  27. Jim Rossignol says:

    Fuck that, I like those cards.

    The twee-fantasy pictures of lusty maidens with cats between their legs? It’s like the definition of tacky.

  28. Fetthesten says:

    I still think that’s the whole point. You get a dull/tacky picture while Geralt gets all the action, so the game is quietly mocking you.

  29. Pavel says:

    The game is quietly mocking me? Guess what – it is a computer game. I don’t play it to get all the action. But I am a heterosexual male and don’t mind a look at nice lady, albeit just painted one.

    I hope that doesnt make some kind of pervert in these circles.

  30. Alistair says:

    I think you reviewed this elsewhere Jim, maybe Edge? Because otherwise passing judgement from the end of the first chapter is a fast train to the naughty step…

  31. Subject 706 says:

    I found the Witcher to be a great game, even without the EE patch.
    Loads more value for money than Spore IMHO.

  32. Deuteronomy says:

    The RPS staff does seem to have a pretty poor taste in games.

  33. James Brophy says:

    The sex card this is an interesting way to represent sex. I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, as it’s a good way to represent a shallow and horrible aspect of the character. It certainly beats the common view of sex in games we have, that it’s a hollow experience of stabbing buttons.

    However unless you also have the option of the same kind of romantic cards for men and women then it is quite sexist… Actually. Having the romantic painting of a big sweaty ugly bastard who you had to suck off for information or to excape from prison, in the midde of your memory is Quite funny to me and definately an adult way to deal with it. You can do what you want, but you gotta live with the memories.

  34. CrashT says:

    I thought the entire point of The Witcher was that Geralt is a sexist prick?

  35. Okami says:

    They should have included at least a few cards of nice, sexy boys. I can’t believe that Witchers are all just straight: They’re an entirely male warrior society, their training begins as a little boy and they probably have allmost no contact with females until they’re old enough to leave their castle and go on their first missions.

    Come on, we all know the stories about Sparta, Samurais and all those other warrior societies. They were all pretty keen on male bonding and stuff like that…

  36. dhex says:

    I thought the entire point of The Witcher was that Geralt is a sexist prick?

    that is one argument i’ve heard, usually tied into the characterization from the original novels as well. i don’t know enough about fantasy tropes to say how true that is, but it does strike me as a reach. you can make the argument that a sterile serial philanderer who spends his time killing shit and knocking down a seemingly endless series of hot to trot broads (including vampire triplets) is clearly making fun of the adolescent fantasy pool it seems to be drawn from. it’s like a fantasy version of “dear penthouse” letters. add in the (seemingly, hopefully) deliberately tacky cards and you have a decent case, maybe.

    but that still seems like a reach. the cards mostly seem to invoke a polish guy in a tracksuit saying “you like de sexy ladies, no?” while handing out strip club fliers.

    Come on, we all know the stories about Sparta, Samurais and all those other warrior societies.

    so *that’s* how he got that scar!

  37. Pavel says:

    Okami – I don’t know if you are serious or not (my irony detector sometimes fails me on teh interwebz), but just in case you are – Geralt is heterosexually oriented, it was established in the 7 books that have him as a main protagonist.I don’t think even amnesia can change that : > ).

  38. tmp says:

    I thought the entire point of The Witcher was that Geralt is a sexist prick?

    The entire point of the Witcher is, it’s placed in fantasy environment that has quite typical attitudes for medieval era, but with the Hollywood’esque glam, polish and politeness stripped from it. Hence pretty much all men are “sexist pricks” in it, Geralt is ironically enough often more refined than average.

    Speaking of irony, it’s also big part of the settings at least as far as books are concerned — you’ll frequently encounter sarcastic takes on standard fantasy tropes and popular myths and fables throughout the stories… that element is mostly lacking in the game, though.

  39. Mil says:

    I find it interesting that so many people only see fit to comment on The Witcher to criticise the sex cards, which are a very minor and entirely optional aspect of the game. Geralt is a morally ambiguous character, which is part of the game’s appeal. He’s not meant to be a role model for your kids or something. He kills people. With swords.

    That much seems obvious, and yet people find the cards and are filled with righteous indignation about “sexism” and what not. That suggests to me repressed prudery more than anything else. Actually, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of how much people are bothered by the sex card thing, versus which country they come from. I bet there would be a significant correlation.

  40. hero imprisoned says:

    In this post, people defend sexist game mechanics and accuse other people of being over-sensitive! Yaaaaay!

    I think it’s worth discussing regardless of how many times it’s gone over, and if you don’t agree, you don’t have to partake in said discussion.

    The Witcher is a game that allows for a large chunk of it’s female population to be seduced, resulting in a collectible item for the player. If you can’t see how this is the absolute definition of objectification, I can’t help you. If you don’t see how this affects the mentality of the player and turns the female characters into objectives, I can’t help you. If you think the only reason this could offend people is their over-sensitivity, I definitely can’t help you.

    Dark, gritty fantasy can exist without relying on sexist stereotyping. Characters can act in sexist ways because they’re sexist characters without also reinforcing sexism at the player’s end with game mechanics that reflect the same, out-dated mentalities. Geralt can bang as many women as he wants, as many times as he wants, because he’s a womanizer. However, when the end result of that hyper-masculine copulation is a collectible object for the player only, you reinforce the mentality that the women you encounter in this game are to be treated as objectives. Conversations with them become a game to get the card rather than a dialog between a womanizer and a woman.

    The Witcher succeeds perfectly in turning the player into the objectifying force instead of the character, and suffers weaker characterization as a result.

  41. pauleyc says:

    Leaving the fairly ridiculous discussion regarding the sex cards aside, how is the EE performing in comparison to the standard version? Were the loading times improved?

    (I finished downloading the basic patch and extra language file, it’s installing at the moment and – oh my – the patch might have been right with the remark “it might take up to 2 hours”.)

  42. Iain says:

    @pauleyc: The EE loading times are much better than with the original version. The inventory revamp is pretty good, too.

  43. tim conkling says:

    I think the objection to the sex cards is that they’re pandering and out of place, and therefore cheapen the game, if only a little. The argument against them is not, “sex in a game is bad/boobs are bad/wanting to see naked women is bad,” but rather that the men’s-magazine-style softporn images are incongruous with the *rest of the game* and seem to serve as little more than eye candy for the stereotypical fratboy gamer. They subtract from, rather than add to, the game.

  44. Deuteronomy says:

    Listen. These guys and girls are from Eastern Europe. They haven’t had that internal censor programmed into them by the global liberal media. Anything that displays the fact that they are still mentally free obviously causes consternation and gnashing of the teeth by the zombified.

  45. Mil says:

    @hero imprisoned:
    If I understand you correctly, your whole issue with the treatment of sex in The Witcher is that you get a card afterwards, which makes you look for sex because you want the cards, instead of because you’re role-playing a “womaniser”. Is that a fair assessment of your position?

    If so, how do you feel about the fact that you get XP points for killing monsters (and XP points, unlike the sex cards, are actually needed to progress in the game)? Are monsters objectified by the XP mechanics, so that you kill them for those points, instead of because you’re role-playing a professional monster killer? Does the game suffer weaker characterisation as a result? How come nothing has been written about this, when you kill a few hundred monsters for every woman you can have sex with?

    And just for my little survey: American, yes?

  46. MisterWierd says:

    I find it curious that while some gamers seem shocked by the Witcher’s collectable sex cards mechanic, which actually represent a really tiny part of a 50 hours dark fantasy RPG (and a great one, IMO), I don’t see so much gamers actually annoyed by the representation of foreign countries in games targeting the US market like Call of Duty 4 or any Tom Clancy’s licenced game, which seems to me a lot more dangerous when it comes to affect the mentality of players.

    But hey, the American model is the dominant one after all!

  47. hero imprisoned says:

    @Mil: No, you don’t quite get it. My issue is that by giving players rewards for objectifying women, the game removes the womanizing characteristic from Geralt and places it firmly on the player. There’s more than one difference between that and the monster killing example you’re providing. For one, XP is a reward to the character, not the player. As a character kills monsters, they get XP and loot that makes them better at killing monsters – contextually it makes sense and helps develop the character. A collectible card, akin to the bottle cap rewards in RE4, for example, is wholly for the player, not the character. See the difference?

    I also have a problem with objectification of monsters as loot/xp machines in games, but only because the faceless monster that you kill in a swing isn’t nearly as awesome as the developed nemesis that you hunt over the course of the story. There is, however, a place for both in RPGs like this, clearly. Games that do not develop their enemies, though, do in fact suffer from weaker characterization as a result.

    I suspect that the reason nobody’s written anything about this is because it doesn’t reflect a real-world problem. Monsters don’t exist, women do. Bias against monsters does not exist, sexism does. See the difference?

    @Deuteronomy/Mil: With regards to the geographic origins and the hilarious bit about global liberal media: You don’t have to be an American to see or care about sexism. You also don’t have to be a liberal, a zombie, or brainwashed. These notions are usually only put forward as a thinly veiled ad hominem by people with very little solid ground of their own to stand on. It’s not hard to see where your bias is coming from, Deuteronomy, and Mil, your searching for people’s geographic origins has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion of content in the Witcher. You’re only serving to discredit anything useful you might have to offer to the discussion.

  48. Esha says:

    @Mil

    This is actually a topic that interests me, and more specifically what each culture considers taboo, and what that says about any given culture.

    What you’ve said there, what it comes down to is – is it okay to hack the limbs off many monsters in a bloody rage, cussing the entire time, when it’s not okay to… oh, say, touch a breast (damn you, Seinfeld!)?

    I have no fears in admitting that I’m gay, and if there’s any problem that I have with the Witcher it’s that it doesn’t objectify males equally aswell. It’s a game, after all. Everything is turned into a luxury, that includes adventuring, exploring, hacking off limbs, mating, and in some cases even substance abuse (loved you, Gothic).

    It’s crass, but then it’s meant to be. And the defining part of the adventure is that you define yourself by deciding which parts you take advantage of. Personally, I’d prefer to avoid fights whenever possible, talking my way out of any combat situation, and being a veritable Casanova. And that can stand to say whatever it does about me as a person.

    I’d also be all too into the substance abuse too, but I’d be very much against harming the glowing doggies. I’m sure those people are just getting what they deserved, anyway.

    But I’m beginning to derail, here.

    In fact, I think I’ve already said everything I wanted to say back there, and I have nothing more to add to that. The thing of it is, it’s there. It’s not forced upon the player and they don’t have to engage in sexing up every female they meet, thus it shouldn’t be a problem. If they don’t follow that path, then they can happily assume that the females of that World are incredibly chaste.

    I’m deeply reminded right now of that scenario in GTA IV, the one involving the politician who happened to claim that gay people were evil, preaching family values, and all the while having a gay boyfriend on the side. I won’t say why. I just am. Okay, maybe I’ll point out that those who’d campaign against this card system seem to know all too much about it. But I won’t go any further than that.

    This is how I build my opinions, anyway. And those here can take that as they will, how they will, and for what it says of me.

  49. hero imprisoned says:

    @MisterWierd – Interesting strawman you have there. How do you keep it up? Personally, I think the jingoist Tom Clancy games just as disgusting as the sexism in the Witcher’s mechanics, and I’ve seen it discussed in a lot of places whenever those games are brought up.

    There’s a pretty big difference between the tone of content vs. the consequences of game mechanics, though. None of the Tom Clancy games immediately reward only the player with anything for acting in a manner that would qualify as “extreme” nationalism.

  50. hero imprisoned says:

    @Esha – I don’t think anyone takes issue with sexual content, like you’re implying here:

    “What you’ve said there, what it comes down to is – is it okay to hack the limbs off many monsters in a bloody rage, cussing the entire time, when it’s not okay to… oh, say, touch a breast…”

    Rather the manner in which the sexual content is put forth. The cards are tacky not because they’re sexual or adult, but because they’re collectible card rewards for banging with cheesy ass fantasy art on them. See the difference?

    Then here:

    “I have no fears in admitting that I’m gay, and if there’s any problem that I have with the Witcher it’s that it doesn’t objectify males equally aswell.”

    You basically admit (or strongly imply)that the game objectifies women – objectifying men as well does not make that behavior any more acceptable.

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