Posted on January 26, 2012, Mark Burnham Witcher 2 Xbox 360 Hands-On Preview: Impressive Graphics, Tight Controls & New Adventures
Context: Earlier this week I attended a preview event for the forthcoming Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2, which was originally released in 2011 as a PC-exclusive. Coming to XBox 360 on April 17, it’s a dark, visually-stunning and challenging RPG, and console gamers are lucky this is happening.
Below is a summary of what I learned after spending a couple hours with the game.
What’s the deal with the Witcher games, anyway?
The Witcher games are RPGs, to be sure. Developed by Polish studio CD Projekt RED (CDPR hereafter), the games are set in a dark, seedy, violent fantasy world based on a series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski of the same name. The games star Geralt of Rivia, one of few “Witchers” still alive in the world. Witchers are badasses essentially, able to cast powerful spells and they’re ninjas with all manner of weaponry.
Like most RPGs, you meet a large cast of characters, you have to make choices (which affect the story’s outcome), and over the course of the game you’ll level up, find tons of gear and traverse a huge explorable world. Witcher 2 is one of those games, and it’s a very deep, very good one.
Our own Ron Whitaker gave it a 92/100 and said “no self-respecting RPG fan can afford to miss [it].”
What’s different from the not-PC-exclusive-for-much-longer version, exactly?
Kind of a surprising amount, actually. This isn’t a mere port, but rather an “adaptation” as CDPR are calling it.
Most obviously, the control scheme–particularly with regards to combat–has been optimized for the Xbox 360 controller, and it works very well (more on that later).
There’s also 3+ hours of additional quest content in the form of two new adventures that take place in Act 3, introducing three new characters. Don’t worry PC gamers–CDPR have stated all that new content will make its way over to the PC eventually, and it’ll be free.
The 360 version will also ship with all extra content included in all nine of the PC version’s previously released DLC packs, such as the extra-hard “Dark” difficulty setting and the Arena mode.
On the fluffier side, there are new in-game movies–brand new intro and end-game cinematics directed by Polish director and Oscar nominee Tomasz Baginski, as well as additional end-game movies that help summarize the player’s choices throughout the game.