GGUK get hands on with the highly anticipated Xbox360 version of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
Having not played the PC version, I was a little concerned about how easy it would be to play on the Xbox360 – games do not always translate over so well. This mostly comes down to the controls, but anyone with a high end PC can also boast about how unimpressive the graphics can be on the home console. However, I had heard good things about this game and it is not like CD Projekt RED are going to skimp on the extra content included in the Xbox 360 version.
Greeted by what turned out to be a massive tutorial, something which was initially absent from the PC version, I entered into the world of Geralt of Rivia, the protagonist of The Witcher series. Whilst it is possible to skip the tutorial, as it is rather lengthy, jumping into the game without first playing it through could lead to problems. There is a lot to know about playing this game and a lot to remember. The tutorial covers everything from the newly mapped controls for the Xbox360 version, down to the various combat and magic mechanics. Playing the tutorial would be highly recommended even for players of the PC version.
The incredible effort that has been put into squeezing all of the controls for The Witcher 2 into a humble gamepad has certainly paid off. Movement, attacking, targeting, drawing and sheathing your sword, meditation, alchemy, riposte and more are all mapped successfully and, although they do not come naturally, after a couple of hours players will be interacting with the world in an impressive way. There is no denying that they are complex, in fact I continued to stumble and forget things even after the tutorial was over, but in that complexity can be found a massive selection of options and abilities that will allow the player to approach different situations as they see fit.
It is this freedom of choice that is a strong selling point for the game. The Witcher 2 packs in more than forty hours of non-linear gameplay with four different beginnings and 16 possible endings, many of which have been enhanced for the Xbox 360 version. But the enhancements don’t stop there.
Since the launch of the PC game, there have been many updates, tweaks and additional content released for the game. All of this and more is included for Xbox 360 owners, including an “Arena” arcade mode, new NPCs to add even more depth to the story, and a selection of new quests. All of the new content will also be available to owners of the PC game free of charge at launch.
Visually, once again CD Projekt RED should be proud. There is no doubt in my mind that they must have used some form of witchcraft to translate the game over so beautifully, whilst maintaining a steady frame rate. High-end PC owners may still look down their noses at the home console version, but frankly no-one will care as they will be too busy watching the cinematic cut-scenes and enjoying the immersive gameplay.
Whilst my time with The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 was short, it has left me wanting more. I look forward to returning to what is a beautifully realised world from the comfort of my own home, and continuing with Geralt’s adventure when the game is released on 17th April.