As a follow-up to a hardcore classic, The Witcher 2 retains the distinctive charm of the original while trimming back the excess. Its combat system isnít as complicated and its world isnít as open-ended.
This could read like a list of negatives on paper, but, in execution, these cuts have produced a fantasy adventure that feels focused and significantly more polished. And compared to its recent rivals, Assassins of Kings has handled the jump to greater accessibility with more finesse.
If we have to make a single criticism, however, itís that The Witcher 2 leaves you wanting more than it offers. A 40-hour completion time isnít anything to sniff at, but when this includes most of the side-quests, you canít help but draw comparisons to the lengthier epics of BioWare and Bethesda.
The Witcher 2 is a game that shoots for the sun while its rivals are still lining up their sights on the moon. Itís an AAA RPG with an indie soul, and a charged, exciting adventure you can really sink your teeth into, admire, and for the most part, love. From the raw technical wizardry of the engine, to tent walls rippling in the breeze and villagers running for cover when it rains, itís a game built with burning, red-raw passion and exactly one goal. To be the best RPG ever, whatever it takes.
Ultimately, it falls short of that, but not without giving it a damn good go. Over its 20-30 hours of almost relentlessly superb moments, Witcher 2 raises almost every bar it can get its hands on. Itís let down by only two things: an undercooked combat system, and a story resolution that it actually hurts to watch. The rest is simply amazing, from the beautiful writing to the gorgeous visuals, meaningful choices, and a world that feels like a real place that exists beyond the gameís limitations.