The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Monday, October 20, 2008

Graphics: 7.50
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 8.50
Replays: 7.00
Gamelength: 9.00

Atari published game of the year, “The Witcher” has received the makeover treatment with the release of the new “Enhanced Edition”.

So, what happens when you take a game that’s already wonderful and you enhanced it even farther? You get an even more stellar action RPG experience that many people will easily find difficult to put down until the game has come to an end. But even more still, the game comes packed to the rim with extras. There’s the OST music CD, the “music inspired by The Witcher” music CD, a 3 hour “Making of” DVD, the 2 adventure add-ons in the form of a “Bonus Disc” and the 1.45 version core game disc, as well as a full strategy guide, a giant poster-sized map of the world, a short story based on the game and the instruction manual, which is all packed into a special “Enhanced Edition” case with a fancy slip cover for only $39.99 MSRP. If every game had this much stuff, I think I’d constantly be broke because it would be that much more enticing. CD Projekt really cares about the players and it really, really shows. I’m telling you right now: Any RPG fan who owns a decent rig should go buy this game as soon as possible. So, without farther delay, join me for a trip through the eyes of Geralt in the massive fantasy world of “The Witcher: Enhanced Edition”.

The visual presentation here has never looked better and completely blows away the original release of the game. Not only do all of the character models look much more “next-gen”, but animations are far, far more fluid and there’s a lot more eye candy all over the place, such as with the special effects of spells. The only complaint I have is that the game seems to handle system resources rather ineffectively, given the supposed low-end system requirements. Still, the graphics are pretty good and no one should have a reason to complain at all, so long as you have a good enough system to run it fluidly.

Voiceovers, sound effects and music are top-notch and honestly, I found myself listening to the OST CD several times. The voice acting is great, although the dialogue is rather odd, given that it’s a mixture of both appropriate and inappropriate dialect for the setting. Music is extremely epic and fitting in every single situation, ranging from upbeat moments of accomplishment to the darkest, most creepy events. Sound effects seem generic at times, but in most cases, they stand out as some of the best out there of the 2007 lineup. In short, the sound quality is amazing, but parents be warned: There’s much swearing and violence here.

Not only does this title have good graphics and near-flawless sound quality, but the gameplay is almost addictive in it’s own way. Then again, it didn’t win RPG game of the year for no reason! The user interface is extremely simple and just about anyone should be able to figure it out instantaneously. Upon loading the game up for the first time, you’ll be promoted to choose one of 2 selections before you can start playing: The original full-length game or the new adventures included on the bonus disc. From here, the usual opening cinematics play out, then you take control of Geralt and jump straight into the action. At the beginning of the game, melee is the only real method of fighting, but it’s quite an easy task. No matter which control scheme you use, simply left click on the enemy you want to attack and then wait until the little sword icon turns into a flaming sword, then click again. Rinse, repeat and move onto the next enemy. In between those mouse clicks, however, you can also change between 3 styles: Speed, Strong and Group. Each style is best in specific situations, so that mechanic doesn’t offer as much freedom as it may sound. Spells work virtually the same way, although there’s no way to chain your spell attacks in the way that you can with melee. For spells, simply click the right mouse button on your target and unleash the spell of your choice. Spells are generally fairly fast and don’t take much effort to cast, so the game remains lightweight and very fast-paced even if you choose casting as your primary method of attack. As for the level system, players are given bronze, silver and gold points each time they gain a level, which may be distributed on all sorts of things. Most of the customization relies heavily on passive melee abilities, but it’s not impossible to make a powerful spell caster. Just remember that this game is first and foremost a melee-based action RPG, so even if you’ve maxed out your spell casting abilities in any sense, melee is still going to be a powerful tool in nearly every fight. The world is fairly open and is rather large when compared to such games as “Fable” or “Jade Empire”, although it’s not completely unlike either of those games, all things considered. All told, factoring in sidequests and the main story arc, as well as the new adventures, the game will range greatly from 40-100 hours, depending on your own personal skill and if you’ve chosen use the strategy guide or not.

Overall, “The Witcher: Enhanced Edition” is quite an amazing game and an even better rehash. I really hope to see more of this massive pack-in trend with future games. Any developers out there who may be reading this, take a hint from these guys! Add more cool pack-ins with your games!

-Much improved animations and overall graphical quality.
-Addictive and perfectly fitting sound track and effects.
-Top-notch voice acting.
-Main character is really, really cool.
-Simple to pick up and get into, no matter how unskilled the player is.
-Extremely long for a modern RPG, clocking in at up to 100 hours.
-Amazing pack-ins.
-$39.99 MSRP is a great price for what you get.
-Loading times are much better in this version of the game.
-English dialogue has been jazzed up a lot.

-Customization could be better.
-Not enough freedom with styles.
-No multiplayer.

Bottom Line:
RPG fans have no reason to hesitate and should definitely buy this game now, but everyone else may want to check out the demo first. You won’t be sorry!

Overall Rating: 8.50

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