We’re back with another Hate-Box! This week, angry man Matt Reynolds tells us his thoughts on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. This is going to be interesting…
Ah, The Witcher 2. Critical darling, loved by the sweaty gaming masses and media outlets alike. The saucy, bloody tale of a monster-slaying mutant; ostracised by the society around him but fighting on for the good of the world regardless. It has action, romance, monsters, political intrigue, and good ol’ ass n’ titties. LOTS of ass n’ titties. What most don’t realise is there is a problem. A big problem. Its one that only a select elite have discovered, peering through the veil like old soothsayers; parting the curtain to get to the ugly truth beneath – and the ugly truth is this.
The Witcher 2 is a huge, steaming turd of a game. A real Grade A stinker. With bits of sweetcorn stuck in it.
Where to begin with how bad the game is? I guess have to begin with a caveat; I’ve never played the first game. I’m not a PC gamer and the Xbox port was mysteriously shitcanned. So, we’ll begin with a common misconception: You don’t need to have played The Witcher to understand The Witcher 2. Bullshit. What little story this game has regularly harks back to the first game; Geralt’s search for the Wild Hunt is explained in the most piss poor way – which is to say its not explained at all. I had no idea who the stupid bint who got taken by the Hunt was. I didn’t care either but that’s besides the point. If you’re releasing your sequel onto a platform that has never had the original then you need to do a MUCH better job of explaining the backstory than using some poorly drawn motion comics.
The sequel’s story itself is utter, utter pish. SPOILER ALERT IF YOU CARE: Bumbling amnesiac Geralt is serving under the king of a large nation and his two brattish children when another (apparent) Witcher assassinates the monarch. Geralt is accused of the murder and bundled away to prison. Bumbling head of the guards Vernon (yes, really) interrogates him about what happened. It turns out a dragon was involved somewhere. Geralt gets free and sets off with bumbling sorceress Triss Merigold (yes, really) to the trading post of Flotsam in search of the kingslayer. He meets bumbling, perma-whinging one-eyed elf Iorveth. He randomly fights a kraken like creature for no reason other than to unblock a pathway to the next area. Assisting him is another bumbling sorceress called Sila – pronounced Sheila (yes, really). Before leaving Flotsam he encounters two American tourists; Zoltan the dwarf (yes, really) and Dandelion (yes, really) the deviant minstrel. Apparently we’re supposed to know already who these two pricks are – we haven’t played the original, so we don’t. Tedious moral choices are made; bumbling Kingslayer Letho is encountered, Triss is kidnapped.
The gang head off to the province of Aedirn. Depending on if you side with Iorveth or Vernon you’ll end up in different locations on different sides of a political struggle. Don’t worry though, you’ll end up visiting both locations so its not actually all that different. Bumbling King Henselt and bumbling pretender Stennis argue about who is the rightful king, bumbling dragonslayer Saskia (yes, really) sticks her oar in. Shit loads of blue mist appears; shitty blue ghosts emerge; everyone fights. Geralt gets rid of the misty ghost problem via some tedious battles, then two more bumbling Witchers attempt to assassinate Henselt. Geralt discovers good old Sheila is behind all the regicide attempts in collaboration with third bumbling sorceress Phillipa (yes, really). They put a spell on Saskia then bugger off to a place called Loc Muinne with Triss in tow.
In Loc Muinne, Geralt rescues Triss, a big meeting between all the nations that nobody cares about happens; the sorceresses try to take over. Turns out Saskia isn’t a dragonslayer – she’s only a bloody dragon! She goes mental; Geralt beats her, beats the sorceresses and gets his memory back. He sets off to find the hunt and his lost missus and a shady nation called Nilfgaard march to war. The. Bloody. End.
That took me two and a half paragraphs to write out, embellished in my own inimitably sexy style and I could have condensed it to about three sentences. It’s a badly written, heavily generic story that is beholden to George RR Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series far too much. Yes, I can hear you – ‘Matt you idiot, The Witcher games are based on novels!’. I put it to you that the writer of those novels might just be a lazy plagiarist.
The characters – in case you didn’t pick up on it – are terrible. They have awful names that appear to be plucked from a third rate British soap. Good old Vernon, Saskia and Phillippa! Stennis is the most insulting – a pretender to a throne called Stennis? In Game Of Thrones there is a pretender to the throne called Stannis. They are practically the same character. The characters are “blessed” with horrendous regional yokel accents and are acted terribly. The brummie NPCs are the worst; spouting the same line ad infinatum until you can’t help but drive nails through your ears to alleviate the pain. Dandelion sounds like an American radio DJ, and sounds completely out of place. Geralt is monosyllabic and sounds half dead.
So, the game itself. Combat is solid, acceptable and uninspired. It does its job just fine. The problem is the scale of the game; it has delusions of grandeur but betrays its small developer’s limitations by actually being a very enclosed experience. There are basically three main areas in the game, none of which offer very much in the way of exploration. You can replay the game to explore (apparent) different locations, but discover that you have been lied to and all you will be doing is exploring the same locations in a different order. Side quests are very short and have no merit to recommend them. All of which would be somewhat ok if it wasn’t for the fact that Dragon Age 2 was lambasted for being too small and repetitive. DA2 was a vastly superior experience to this drivel.
The most talked about aspect of this shit-filled trojan horse of a game was the sexy times. ‘Finally, a mature game for adults that treats sex the way it should be treated’ they cry. ‘Horseshit!’ says I. Sex in this game is treated like a 40 year old virgin’s idea of sex. Yes, it’s full of nudity (and quite explicit for a game) but it’s childish and looks stupid. It’s completely there for the sake of titillation; it has no merit beyond that. Anyone who’s actually had sex (or seen Game of Thrones) would snort at this pixellated copulation.
In conclusion – The Witcher 2 is a badly written, derivative adventure that promises a large world and story for adults filled with moral choices with genuine repercussions. However it ends up recycling the same few areas and includes sex as a way of trying to be mature (but seems like it has been implemented by a bunch of randy teenage boys). Added to this it has a cast of stupidly named, badly acted idiots and also does a piss poor job of explaining its world to newcomers. It’s probably one of the worst RPGs of the generation.
Except you love it. You’d give it a 9 or 10. Well let Uncle Matt explain something to you – you’re wrong.
– Matt Reynolds. Tell him he’s wrong (or right!) on Twitter @thelostmoment
Wow. We’re sure many of you disagree with Mr Reynolds (there will be agreement too, no doubt!) so let us know on Twitter @lowfatgaming or on our Facebook community page (Low Fat Gaming). Hate-Box will definitely give us something to talk about!