I just got back from The Witcher 2 launch party here in Boston, and those of you Xbox 360 owners anxious to get your hands on this stunning RPG won’t have to wait much longer. The good news is that CD Projekt has worked some kind of witchcraft in order to bring the technical powerhouse to Microsoft’s now-aging console.
Before I sat down with the demo, I had the chance to speak with Senior Quest Designer Mateusz Tomaskiewicz. He shared with me that Xbox 360 gamers won’t be left on in the cold when it comes to the events of Geralt’s first adventure. There are two movies available online right now, with one included in the game.
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He told me that overcoming the architecture and memory limitations of the Xbox 360 were challenging, but the game, which will ship on two disks, is successful because of Microsoft’s involvement in the process. Bringing the game to 360 was a decision made because of CD Projekt’s devotion to the universe they have created. Giving more gamers a chance to experience it was an easy decision in that respect.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the rumors of a PS3 adaptation will be coming true (unless Mat has a darn good poker face). He told me that it would take at least a year to do the work to move the game to Sony’s console and that, at this time, CD Projekt hasn’t started working on it.
When I got my hands on the game, I was immediately stricken with awe thanks to the impressive level of detail. It astounds me how much of the PC version’s graphical majesty has been preserved, making The Witcher 2 easily one of the most beautiful games on the system. Unfortunately, it isn’t perfect. The build I played was final code and there was a significant amount of screen tearing (with no option in the menu to lock down the frame rate) and a few of the textures looked muddy enough that I expected higher resolutions to pop in after a few seconds.
These, quite frankly, are minor complaints when you consider the game play and scope of the title. The combat is purely action oriented, with swordplay, a variety of magic attacks and fantastic potion effects. In the first part of the demo, Geralt is tasked with quelling a rebellion by any means necessary.
You’ll hack, slash and use spells (like a push that can send enemies hurtling to their deaths). Occasionally, you’ll be treated to a finishing cutscene that is absolutely graphic, highlighting one of the most differentiating characteristics of The Witcher 2. It is a dark, mature and morally ambiguous game that turns decision making conventions in electronic entertainment on their ears.
For those that have fallen in love with moral decisions in games, but loathe the instant feedback regarding consequences, The Witcher 2 will be the perfect game. Your decisions, like whether to kill the rebel leader or persuade him to throw down arms won’t impact the game immediately. You won’t know how the stone you just cast into the pond will ripple throughout your journey, but be assured, it will.
The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition will arrive on April 17, 2012 for Xbox 360.