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sonson
15-10-2012, 10:51 AM
For anyone who is yet to play it, or maybe who hasnít played it since it has been fully patched, I highly recommend you give it a go. I finally got the chance to give it a go this past weekend, resisting the lure of XCOM, and basically just gave myself over to it. Whatever it was like before the EE, I feel like the game I just played is not nearly as enthused over or well regarded as it should be. Itís not just a good game, it is the definitive example of how games can tell narrative, in my own experience, as well as being a testament to the abundant imagination and ambition and creativity within gaming at itís best.

Itís not for everyone by any means but is an extraordinarily ambitious, brilliantly crafted thing which pulls off the vast majority of what it tries. I donít think Iíve ever experienced a more consistently brilliant narrative and writing in a game before. Itís a bit of a slow burner but it builds and builds with perfect, measured pacing. I donít know if youíve ever seen Deadwood, but itís the closest Iíve experienced to that sort of thing in a game. There is a real sense of a world persisting and going on around you, with all of itís simmering political and social tensions waiting to boil over. It feels like characters and plots are things which belong to themselves which you just happen to encounter, rather than establish and define, and for a game which basically sees you playing a superhero it does a tremendous job of making it seem plausible and relatable in spite of all that.

I think initially some people confused this enormity as the game being obtuse and poorly communicated, and maybe before the EE it was; but if you are willing to take the time to talk and read and look around you, like most things, you will learn a lot more about the world you inhabit, and be considerably better off for it. There is a lot of talking but these are not the only means you have to ascertain information, and so you should use all of them.

The fighting and exploration mechanics are also tremendously satisfying for the most part and better than the majority of offerings in this regard. The plot and creation of the world play first fiddle without a doubt, but the fighting throughout is a joy once you get the hang of it. There were some complaints about the fact that you have to roll around a lot but Iím at a loss as to how in real life one would be able deal with being surrounded in a fight while remaining fixed in the same spot.

Iím not sure how you would want to tag it in regards to the whole Games Journalism debate-there may be too much talking, reading and watching for some, not enough doing-but there are few experiences like it. Basically all the best parts of a great novel with all of the immersion and activity that playing a computer game brings. If you have the time to invest, you really should give it a go. Easily one of the best games in the last decade.

Namdrol
15-10-2012, 11:34 AM
Good to see you had one of those great gaming moments, wherein a you experience a particular game at a particular time in your life and everything just clicks, serendipitous confluence...great fun.

I think I had the same kind of thing with the two Mario Galaxy games I played when I first got back into gaming after finishing up my schooling. I spent a bit of time trying to get that feeling back with other games, but I've come to the conclusion that you cannot force confluence. So I approach games like most other things in my life, without expectations. That way I get to experience things with new eyes instead constantly judging them or trying to force them to conform to the past.

sonson
15-10-2012, 11:46 AM
Good to see you had one of those great gaming moments, wherein a you experience a particular game at a particular time in your life and everything just clicks, serendipitous confluence...great fun.

Yeah, that’s really what it was. I mean, I’m pretty sure that my observations stand up objectively but I’m also sure people could criticise it to a point without that being unfair, as like anything it isn’t perfect. But for as long as I have been gaming there have been points I recall where I was simply astonished that such a thing as I’m playing could even *exist* - I remember my reaction to Age of Empires when it first came out, watching all of these gorgeously animated little men fighting each other and being totally unable to reconcile it to anything else I’d ever experienced- and the Witcher 2 firmly fits that. It’s not a case of saying it’s better than a good book or film or some other experience, because they’re all quite different, but in terms of transporting me to another world and making me happy that I was alive to play It, and that the people who made it had done so, it was work of brilliance in a way that those other things are. Pretty much as much fun as I’ve had on my own that I can remember.

biz
15-10-2012, 11:53 AM
love the game, but I prefer the first 1

there was better writing, and more of it, particularly in terms of volume of quests and how they related to the storyline

witcher 2 has some really really long quests. if you have high standards for an action game or don't even like action games very much, then it can be a problem

sonson
15-10-2012, 12:08 PM
Personally I really enjoyed the longer quests but I think had I been playing it in evening sized chunks they could have seemed too long winded. I think it’s definitely a game, like most with a strong narrative, which needs to be played in good doses at a time. Splitting a chapter up into more than three play sessions would probably make it seem disparate and confusing I think.

I loved the first one as well, played it while doing my Dissertation when it came out, not the best idea perhaps but it was so addictive..

They’re both very different. I think they’re quite comparable to the first few volumes of Lord of The Rings in that the first one is largely personal and quest orientated, setting the scene while offering some hints of wider exposition, while the second one pulls back and scales up significantly and you become a player in a much broader piece. They’re both brilliant games though. Vizima seems huge and intricate in the first game, but the context of the second game make it seem tiny and inconsequential. Both are right in their own context.

I thought the way 2 expands from the similar humans and nonhumans topic to something else entirely was masterful, especially if you side with Roche. Initially, Hanging around Flotsam I thought it was going to be basically the Witcher 1 but with better graphics, I was enjoying it but felt it needed to up its game somewhat and move past the Scoiatael and the Humans. The way the narrative pushes on beyond that makes that section with all of its squalidness and claustrophobia stand out all the stronger, which is a mark of how tight and well planned the whole thing is.

TheGodzillaHunter
15-10-2012, 12:50 PM
Yeah, TW2:EE is an amazing game. The first time I played it was before EE, chose Roche's path. Then I played the EE later (wtih a much better computer, so the game was 100x as pretty) with Iorveth's path, and was blown away by how completely different Chapter 2 is for both paths.

LTK
15-10-2012, 12:53 PM
I loved the Witcher 2. I still want to play through it once more and just ensure that I kill as many plot characters as possible. Just as if I was secretly a Nilfgaardian agent.

Casimir Effect
15-10-2012, 12:57 PM
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Deadwood, but it’s the closest I’ve experienced to that sort of thing in a game.
That's the way I've been trying to think of to describe TW2 all this time. If Dragon Age is trying to be like Game of Thrones, TW2 is like Deadwood.

Personally I love the game. Whenever I think of it, hear something from the soundtrack or see a video for it I just want to play it again. It just feels like a legendary game, especially in how it can actually inspire emotions in the player (or it did for me many times at least).

sonson
15-10-2012, 02:28 PM
That's the way I've been trying to think of to describe TW2 all this time. If Dragon Age is trying to be like Game of Thrones, TW2 is like Deadwood.

Personally I love the game. Whenever I think of it, hear something from the soundtrack or see a video for it I just want to play it again. It just feels like a legendary game, especially in how it can actually inspire emotions in the player (or it did for me many times at least).

Yeah, the trick of the Witcher 2 is too produce something as intensely focussed and with as much depth as something like Deadwood, whilst also still managing to remain grand and epic in scope at points, like GOT. It’s kind of a reverse in that instead of the world coming to you (Deadwood) you go out into it, but the army camp/Vergen allows for the illusion of a sense of an established and evolving community reacting to a world in the throes of change while doing so.

After getting to know Flotsam though Deadwood was my immediate point of reference, the tension, the factions, the politicking, the way it acts as a threshold between the everyday and the wider world. Really quite brilliantly done, and with the exception of the first Witcher game I’ve not encountered similar anywhere else.

I wonder if it was a direct inspiration? Although the dialogue doesn’t match up to Deadwood(frankly, little else does) there is also a similar turn of phrase to an extent. It was clearly written by someone who likes to play with the expression and use of words for more than just communicating plot and passing on information, there are several very well crafted pieces of dialogue in there used to convey character and meaning of the person speaking them which have nothing to do with the game per se. Even very specific use of the word cunt, just like Deadwood, and in a similar context for (I think) similar purposes as well.

karthink
15-10-2012, 03:45 PM
sonson, I take it you have played both (Iorveth/Roche) paths?

I played it a couple of months ago and enjoyed it. Merely that, enjoyed.

I just finished my second playthrough yesterday though, and boy am I amazed! Playing both paths really nails the sense of the world existing outside of Geralt, where you're just trying to weave your way through the intrigue and politicking, knowing that every action of yours is condemning someone even as it saves someone else.*

I believe the tapestry of characters and motivations this game has is so rich it has to be played multiple times in different ways to be truly understood. I never understood what the deal with the dragon was when I went with Roche the first time, and thought it was just an end boss for the sake of having a boss fight. But now, though... wow.

This, more than the pitch about meaningful choice and consequence, is the true selling point of the game and something that would never work as a movie or novel.

* (Except Triss. In my first playthrough I went straight to save Triss in Loc Muine. This time I did the other quest, and wrongly assumed that the Nilfgaardians would kill her. A bit of a cop-out, that.)

Casimir Effect
15-10-2012, 04:01 PM
I have a feeling much of it was influenced by the books, although I haven't read them myself so I have no idea how much language was used in them. I wouldn't even say the dialogue in TW2 was particularly good most of the time. It had some good moments but rarely shone, but this is something I'm sure CDP will continue to improve on especially as they get more and more comfortable with the world.

What it did far better was spectacle, through the art direction, graphics, sound and cutscenes. An atmosphere was created for each area which fit perfectly and that went a long way to making the game feel right. That more than made up for any wooden dialogue which is something more gains could benefit to learn from (and it's not just about great graphics - as we've seen so much recently art direction can be just as important).

The problem with the game being so good is that it becomes easier to see things you wish were improved on. I mentioned the writing earlier but the main point for me would be more interaction between the character groups. I know it's tricky seeing as there is the split in Act2 but I would have loved Geralt to spend more casual time with Roche and the Blue Stripes or Iorveth and his Scoiatael, getting to know them or just relaxing with them as it were. As it was you have the Night On The Town quest with the Stripes and the Scoiatael always treat you like crap. You get to be good buddies with Roche or Iorveth but most of that is motivated by the main plot so that's all they really talk about.
I know Geralt is meant to be a loner so I'm okay with how they did things. I just wish to have gotten to know them (and your other compansions - Triss, Dandelion and dwarf-guy-whose-name-eludes-me) better.

Finicky
15-10-2012, 06:39 PM
I still haven't played through this:p
I was waiting for the goty patch to fix it (did the same with tw1 and man am I glad I did) and to get a new GPU : check, and check.

Played through the first hour and holy shit did I get pulled in, but I've decided to save this one for a rainy day when my net craps out or when I have nothing else to play.
Every time I see it mentioned or see it in my library I get the urge, I'm going to enjoy it so much when I eventually get to it.

Rainy day games are the best, played through deus ex:HR and portal 2 like that too.

db1331
15-10-2012, 08:43 PM
love the game, but I prefer the first 1

there was better writing, and more of it, particularly in terms of volume of quests and how they related to the storyline


I completely agree. I always tell people the first game was better in every regard save graphics (of course) and combat. The thing I loved most about the original was the gray areas of the choice and consequence system. It seemed like no matter how sure you were that you did the right thing, a few hours later it would come back to bite you in the ass.

Grizzly
15-10-2012, 08:58 PM
I completely agree. I always tell people the first game was better in every regard save graphics (of course) and combat. The thing I loved most about the original was the gray areas of the choice and consequence system. It seemed like no matter how sure you were that you did the right thing, a few hours later it would come back to bite you in the ass.

You can try and play the "Full Combat Rebalance" mod for The Witcher: EE, which does turn the combat into the style from the books (which W2 also uses) - Fast and very dangerous.

db1331
15-10-2012, 09:07 PM
You can try and play the "Full Combat Rebalance" mod for The Witcher: EE, which does turn the combat into the style from the books (which W2 also uses) - Fast and very dangerous.

Sweet. I'll have to check that out. Despite it being one of my favorite games, and having beaten it twice, I've actually never modded it. I know I read about a texture mod somewhere as well. Sounds like it's time for playthrough #3! Maybe I can finally figure out how to remain neutral throughout. Last time I think I blew it in chapter 4.