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Default The Witcher - Review @ GameOver

December 15th, 2007, 04:36
Gameover has posted their review of The Witcher, giving it a 78% score, citing interface issues, inventory confusion and the autosave and long load times as the main faults:
Usually when I give a game a score around 75%, it’s because nothing about it was that good or that bad, and all of the components of the score fall in between 70% and 80%. The Witcher, on the other hand, is sort of an odd game because there were parts of it that I loved, but also parts of it that I loathed. Let me start with the bad stuff.

Somehow, despite being based on an existing engine (and a fine but not great one at that), the Witcher has a terrible interface and some serious technical problems. Consider this oddity. Quick saves and autosaves always save to a new save slot. They don’t overwrite previous quick saves and autosaves. And since you’re not allowed to name your saves (you just get a tiny screenshot, the name of your location, and a time stamp), by the end of the campaign you’re going to end up with hundreds of saves but not know what any of them refer to. Well, yay.

Or consider your inventory. A lot of the game involves collecting ingredients (including things like flowers, zombie brains, and wolf pelts) and then using the base components of those ingredients to create potions and weapon oils. Well, that’s fine, except that there are dozens and dozens of ingredients, but you’re not given enough inventory space to keep even half of them…Some sort of display listing how many of each component you’re holding would have been an immense help, but even something as simple as an inventory sorting button would have made things easier…
…But here’s the big problem. The loading, saving, and transition times are abysmally long. When I said that the Witcher has a 50+ hour campaign, I think that translates to about a 40 hour campaign with 10 hours of staring at loading screens….The loading times really sap the fun out of the game, but supposedly the next patch (due out any day now) is going to address this.
Hopefully the first part of the review hasn’t scared you off, because the Witcher has some good stuff to it, too. First and foremost is the campaign. Instead of following the BioWare mold where you’re always given “good” and “evil” ways to solve quests, the Witcher swims in murkier waters. One of the themes of the Witcher books is having to choose “the lesser evil,” where you’re presented with a pair of options and neither one is right or wrong; they just have different shades of gray…

…The Witcher campaign is also interesting because it is a lot “denser” than other campaigns. In most role-playing games, when you go to a town you talk to the NPCs twice -- once to pick up a quest and then again to turn it in -- and then you move on to the next town. But the Witcher doesn’t have that many towns. Each of the campaign’s five chapters takes about 10 hours to play, but they only consist of a few major map areas each, and so you end up dealing with people over and over again through multiple quests. This helps to develop those characters so that you’re more likely to care how their quests turn out, but it also goes back to your decisions having consequences. Since you never know how many times you’re going to need to talk to somebody, you have to be careful what you say to them so you don’t burn any possible bridges.
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