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Default The Witcher - Impressions @ DLA

November 2nd, 2007, 07:21
Steel_Wind from the NWN/2 content group DLA has posted some lengthy impressions of The Witcher from around the halfwat point. To say they are impressed would be an understatement:
The spin in the gaming media is that The Witcher has been developed ďin a style very similar to BioWareís games and that if you like one, youíll like the otherĒ. While I donít disagree with the overall sentiment, I think itís only fair to clarify something we are perhaps a little better positioned than BioWare to comment upon: BioWare itself has never created a PC game as polished out of the gate as The Witcheralready is. The Witcher isnít merely as good as a BioWare PC RPG; rather, based upon everything I have seen to date when playing this game and looking under the hood as to how itís been developed, The Witcher is better than any BioWare PC RPG Iíve ever played. And Iíve played and kicked the tires of all of them folks. (To be clear, KotOR, which I consider to be primarily an Xbox title, still wins the overall best CRPG of all time, imo.)
So what makes The Witcher such a treat? Simply put: everything. Itís graphically leading edge and the art direction on the game is just awesome. The texture artists and environmental designers at CD Projekt have seriously raised the bar with the environmental artwork in this game. The authentic medieval feel to the buildings in The Witcheris, in a word, perfect. The look of The Witcher is like our own Tir Na níOg design style used in Wyvern Crown of Cormyr, except on steroids; we absolutely love it.
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November 2nd, 2007, 07:21
To me The Witcher is way better then any Bioware RPG ever made (I'm not sure about Mass Effect though since I haven't played it) and is better in story then a majority of games ever created. The atmosphere is also the best I have seen out of every RPG I have ever played and just behind that is the Fallout games.
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November 2nd, 2007, 07:45
I have to agree with him with the praise on art direction and enviromental
design.

It looked great in the prerelease screens and is in thruth stellar when actually
playing the game (might I suggest OTS as the best choise ?)… Better than the
Gothics in that aspect, which were my benchmark for this kind of lived in ,
breathing sort of world design too… Funny thing I remember Gamestar, one
of the first, (very early) reviews to criticize heavily the game's atmosphere…

Although its too early to be adamant I'll have to say I definetely like this one
more than KOTOR since it is mentioned. I'll have to say though, that KOTOR
most certainly had a more even (high)quality on its writing.

I get the impression a lot of things are missed in translation with the witcher
(idioms and phrases not readily translatable in english and a quirky polish flavour
in the dialogue that is equally difficult to transmit ?), still nothing jarring or really
detracting from the game overall, just a few awkward moments among several
very good ones.
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November 2nd, 2007, 08:07
(To be clear, KotOR, which I consider to be primarily an Xbox title, still wins the overall best CRPG of all time, imo.)

I stopped reading after that statement because he instantly lost all credibility at that point.
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November 2nd, 2007, 11:32
To me, Gothic is still the benchmark as far as game world goes. Not that it hasn't been surpassed since then (by Gothic 2, among others), but it was released six years ago. That is quite a long time in game development, and the atmosphere in the game is still among the best.

Since BG2 was developed by Black Isle, I might lean towards saying that KotOR is BioWares best game. However, claiming KotOR is the best ever (surpassing Fallout, BG, etc) is an odd statement. I doubt many serious RPG fans feel that way.
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November 2nd, 2007, 11:46
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Since BG2 was developed by Black Isle, I might lean towards saying that KotOR is BioWares best game. However, claiming KotOR is the best ever (surpassing Fallout, BG, etc) is an odd statement. I doubt many serious RPG fans feel that way.
Huh? BG2 was published by Black Isle and developed by Bioware.
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November 2nd, 2007, 11:57
Either way, this guy claiming(iho) that KOTOR is the best RPG ever made makes me skeptical of how long he's been playing RPG's.
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November 2nd, 2007, 12:43
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
To me The Witcher is way better then any Bioware RPG ever made (I'm not sure about Mass Effect though since I haven't played it) and is better in story then a majority of games ever created. The atmosphere is also the best I have seen out of every RPG I have ever played and just behind that is the Fallout games.
Easily. I liked KOTOR as well, and in some very abstract ways the two games have some similarities even, but Witcher has way, way more depth, breadth, subtlety, and all that commotion.
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November 2nd, 2007, 12:50
Really? I always thought PS:T and BG2 were developed by the same company. Oh well, live and learn I suppose. Guess it was a bit much to believe that a single company developed so much RPG history.
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November 2nd, 2007, 15:14
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
To me, Gothic is still the benchmark as far as game world goes. Not that it hasn't been surpassed since then (by Gothic 2, among others), but it was released six years ago. That is quite a long time in game development, and the atmosphere in the game is still among the best.
The atmosphere and world design of the G series were groundbreaking
imo, and still very rarely surpassed.

I'll say that the limitations of the Aurora engine certainly detract a bit
from the experience making it a close thing, but the Witcher's attention
to detail, architecture, scale, and landscape (not to mention little touches
like the passive fauna etc), pushes it ahead for me (despite limited map
size and movement freedom i.e)
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November 2nd, 2007, 15:28
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
The atmosphere and world design of the G series were groundbreaking
imo, and still very rarely surpassed.
I agree, for me the Gothic games are still the unchallenged king regarding atmosphere in game worlds (although, back in '92 or whenever it was, I was pretty damned impressed by the world of Ultima7I as well - and still am).

The Witcher is really, really nice - but (and I'll have to admit I'm maybe not far enough into the game to pass final judgement) it annoys me how linear the paths through the maps are. For example, in the outskirts of Vizima I'm forced to always follow long winding roads to get from A to B when I could just have crossed a field in a game like Gothic!

In the Wither there seems to be no real reason why I couldn't do the same from a technical point of view, but they've put up fences and disallowed jumping.. I hope later areas opens up more.
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November 2nd, 2007, 22:42
I have waited for some reviews to appear before buying it - and I have to say that I am VERY impressed by the witcher so far. Special mention goes to the opening cinematics and the start of the story - can't remember I have seen it done better before (and I remember back to the days when the PC was a 286 at its best *g*)
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November 2nd, 2007, 22:51
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
it annoys me how linear the paths through the maps are. For example, in the outskirts of Vizima I'm forced to always follow long winding roads to get from A to B when I could just have crossed a field in a game like Gothic!

In the Wither there seems to be no real reason why I couldn't do the same from a technical point of view, but they've put up fences and disallowed jumping.. I hope later areas opens up more.
I really hate it when they limit an action rpg like that, it reminds me of how I felt when I played Fable: The Lost Chapters, the maps were beautiful but you couldn't go everywhere.
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November 3rd, 2007, 00:44
Originally Posted by Rendelius View Post
Special mention goes to the opening cinematics and the start of the story - can't remember I have seen it done better before
Just for the record, the opening move has been made by Tomasz Baginski who received an Oscar nomination in 2003 for his 3d animation 'The Cathedral'.

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November 3rd, 2007, 03:55
While I broadly agree with the sentiment, I simply wouldn't call it an action/RPG. It is at least as dialogue/quest based as BioWare's standard stuff, like BG2 or KotOR. When I think of it as a traditional RPG, the movement limitations bother me less than when thinking of it as a Gothic-like game.

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November 3rd, 2007, 05:50
Agree—I'm quite fond of the hack n slash and I don't see this game having much of that feel. I would call this an rpg with occasional action elements

I don't know when it started catching that arpg label, but I would agree with this reviewer and just call it a cRPG. It's got the story, the dialogues, the npcs and the momentum comparable to games from Bioware or Black Isle. It's especially nice to be able to switch camera modes on the fly from isometric to over the shoulder, and to move with the mouse for character interaction and scoping things out, then WASD for combat and exploration. Not being able to run across the field is occasionally annoying, but the sensation of being involved with the characters and the plot does a pretty good job of distracting you. IMHO, of course.

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November 3rd, 2007, 06:13
This actually opens (possibly) a discussion on the sub-genre's of RPG's. On first blush, I think the following:

aRPG - focus is on lots of fighting (like every few minutes at most), lotsa loot and leveling. Very light on story and dialogue. Usually constrained in some way when it comes to exploration. Examples: DL, D2, HG:L, 1/2 of Sacred, 1/3 of Gothic, 1/2 of TW

Sandbox - focus is on exploration. There's at least a respectable story element, but it doesn't constrain the player at all. Combat is more a function of exploring. Loot tends to be somewhat incidental to the experience. Examples: TES, 1/2 of Sacred, 1/3 of Gothic, 1/2 TW

Traditional: focus is the story to the point of feeling "on rails" to some extent. Exploring, leveling, combat and loot all serve, for the most part, to move the story forward. Examples: a ton. Anything Black Isle did or Bioware's done, ToEE, 1/3 of Gothic, etc.

RTS Hybrid: have to mention this, as I think it's a possible growth area for RPG's. However, it may be a sub-sub-genre as the elements of story, exploration, combat, leveling and loot can all vary independently within any given RTS Hybrid. Examples: Spellforce series, Dragonshard (arguably), Mount & Blade.

As you can see, Sacred, Two Worlds and Gothic are special in that they straddle multiple sub-genre's.

What do you guys and gals think? Of special interest to me: where would you put The Witcher in this breakout?
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November 3rd, 2007, 11:23
There's something to that division, although as any division it's only of limited usefulness.

Here's how I'd place The Witcher:

* Loot: not really. The focus is on developing your character, not equipping him. At least I've ended up selling almost everything in order to afford (a) books, (b) potion bases, and (c) to pay the blacksmith to upgrade my sword.
* Fighting: less of a focus than Jade Empire, perhaps about as much as Gothic 2. I also find the fighting lots of fun — it's definitely a major element.
* Exploration: Story constrains exploration much more than TES, somewhat more than Gothic 2, and a lot less than NWN.
* Story: very, very central to the experience. You spend more of your time in dialog than in fighting.

IOW, I'd say that like Gothic, The Witcher straddles multiple sub-genres: traditional, action, and sandbox. If I had to break it down crudely, I'd say 1/5 sandbox, 2/5 action, and 2/5 story.
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November 4th, 2007, 04:09
chamr wrote:
As you can see, Sacred, Two Worlds and Gothic are special in that they straddle multiple sub-genre's.

What do you guys and gals think? Of special interest to me: where would you put The Witcher in this breakout?
I'm only a short way into the game, but atm I'd have to agree it straddles.

It's got a good mix of story and action, but the frenetic ever-spawning monster rush is absent and loot is a minor element. The traditional "on rails" rpg is obviously it's inspiration, but it's years down the road since the heyday of those games, and the Witcher incorporates a lot of more modern elements to achieve the same ends. It feels familiar, but not because it's generic, but because the devs have obviously played and loved those games, and then gone on with ideas of their own and made them work.

You really can feel this in the combat, where you have an amalgam of styles that gives the same feeling of depth as an old style biowarean mage battle, or some of the matchups in a combat based dungeoner like ToEE where strategy, planning and shrewd usage of enhancements and skills are extremely important, but the game gets you that depth using influences from modern action oriented combat as well. Somehow it still has the feel of tb or rtwp while actually being nothing of the kind, and capitalizes on visuals in way that the old games could never really do with the tech of their day, giving it a great deal of immediacy. It isn't flawless, though, and it doesn't always work the way you think it should.

But you need to play it yourself, chamr and give us your impressions.


@Rendelius: the intro cinematics do rock—better than fifteen minutes of most actual films.

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Last edited by magerette; November 4th, 2007 at 04:25.
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November 4th, 2007, 06:42
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
But you need to play it yourself, chamr and give us your impressions.
Believe me, I will! I just came to the sad conclusion that I can not justify roughly $40 for a damn map, so I'm going with the GoGammer UK version soon. Just want to play the post 1.6 TW a bit more to feel I've got my money's worth first. Plus I've been on a DoW: DC binge somewhat since I found out about the upcoming expansion.

On a side note, your new avatar disturbs me greatly. I found the previous one reassuring in an odd, forum sort of way. The new one is quite the opposite. From the Witcher, right?

(j/k about being "disturbed", of course)
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