Genre: Role Playing Developer: CD Projekt Publisher: Atari Classification: MA15+ Release Date: Unknown Platforms:PC
Average of 89 Ratings
Login to submit your review score
The Good bits
Looks the part
Adult themes that extend beyond boobies
The Bad stuff
Descends into repetitionville - unavoidable in any game running over 30-40 hours it seems.
Okay, so 2007 goes down as the year game publishers seem to have stopped sniffing glue long enough to figure out there's tonnes of money in casual games. Good for them. The next question is "how do we justify spending years and millions making games for core gamers when we can spend less time and money making casual games for everyone?" That's a pretty hard question to answer, but for now one of the more productive answers is "dig into the wealth of cheap development talent outside of tradition games industry locations". You know, places like the old Eastern Europe, India, heck, even here in Australia.
You don't need to be a linguist to figure out CD Projekt doesn't hail from New York, London, or Los Angeles. The K in the name gives it away, not to mention the fact that CDs are ... two media generations behind now. The team are actually from Poland. But no matter what letters are in the name, these guys know how to code a third person action adventure. The beef is they know how to code it on PC and...PC. There goes a good chunk of your audience right there. If there was some kind of hacked up multiplayer mode that demanded PC flexibility (you know, so you don't keep getting thrown into laggy overseas games of Call of Duty 4 like I do when I play on Xbox Live) it might be more understandable, but The Witcher is strictly single player, so nope.
The reason why it's annoying to be PC only is the game itself is kickass in many ways. It looks very good, for starters. Using a sexy Bioware engine helps, but this thing looks hot. And it plays best for adults as well. Not because you're surrounded by jiggling babes, but rather the thinking is grown up, or at least the kind of contrived grown-up themes you could expect in a video game made by people who spend inordinate amounts of time in front of computers.
A silly person may be tempted to draw some parallels between this and Mass Effect, but we're not going to make that error. Too much difference in setting, scope and execution exist to make it worth your time, so if that's bugging you, put it out of your mind right now. In The Witcher, you play Geralt, one of a rare crew of people are trained in the art of destroying monsters via steel and sorcery. The downside is the same mutations that give you your powers also make you incapable of reproduction. Depending on your mindset, this seems to me a potential plus, so exactly why Witchers are so perpetually morose is anybody's guess.
CD Projekt is on the record as wanting The Witcher to reflect the tortured moral landscape that is modern day humanity in game form. So the world you'll inhabit is grim and xenophobic. There's often not a lot of subtlety with how this is presented. Your fellow humans aren't the friendliest of folks, and there's not a lot of love for the other races in the game. The rationale behind this is fair enough. Way too much McHappy action goes down in the likes of Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft et al. Yes, noble King Blahblah may be a just and fair ruler of all races equally, but Baldrick the serf probably hates every elf, troll and dwarf equally. And you encounter a lot more of the latter than the former in The Witcher.
Typically, a sequence in The Witcher will go thus: brief explanatory slideshow or vignette. You chat/interact with a few folks, head out and slaughter a few beasts using your weapons and magic, suck back a few potions (that also have the side effect of slowly killing you - a novel twist), achieve a resolution and repeat. The Witcher does a better job of hiding the repetition factor because the consequences of your actions aren't immediately brought home to you (something expanded on in our Leipzig games Convention Witcher show briefing) but often occur hours of play later. Try provisionally saving your way around that, sucka! That said, despite being given plenty to see and do, you do find yourself noticing this routine and ultimately caring less about what developments occur as you plod along towards the finale.
The Witcher is a core gamer's delight. It looks hot, has a meaty story and we're the kind of folk who are most likely to tolerate (however grudgingly) the load times and occasional crash. The plot structure also has a fair stab at ensure long term playability, however there's not the greatest level of innovation here. Definitely a solid, impressive effort, but a cut below the upper echelon. Not that there is too many good examples of modern action RPGs on PC. Shame it's not on consoles at present - the Devil May Cry meets Oblivion experience seems tailor made for couch and TV action. Single player games that can genuinely claim to offer a couple of full day's play are a dying breed - but this is a nice footnote nonetheless.