“Witcher: Enhanced” Review

Review done by: Thrillhouse17

Game Review: Witcher: Enhanced
Release: September 16, 2008
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Developer:CD Projekt Red Studio
Available Platforms:Microsoft Windows
Players: 1
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: M

Originally released in 2007 to critical praise, The Witcher told the story of Geralt, a somewhat typical anti-hero whose mysterious past was slowly revealed as the game progressed. Now, fans and newcomers have another chance to play this lengthy RPG thanks to The Witcher: Enhanced Edition.

The Witcher: EE is the definitive version for fans. Spanning five disks, included in the package are the official soundtrack, music inspired from the game, an interesting three hour long making of DVD, an adventure editor with new adventures, and the game disk. For serious fans a map of the world is included, as is a short story book which expands upon the universe. Significant game improvements have been made as well, with load times up to 80% faster than in the original, more than 200 more facial animations for the dialogue scenes, and combat tightened to give the game a more natural feel. All of these improvements help fix problems that the original release suffered from. The best part is that owners of the original edition are not being obligated to repurchase the game for these improvements. They’re all available via download. Still, with such excellent extras now being packaged with this new release, a repurchase is quite tempting.

Much has been said lately of morality being a driving force in video games. Letting the player choose how to act, what path to take, all elevate the sense of immersion. Few games have successfully pulled this off. Mass Effect used a “morality wheel”, Fable 2 let you dance for or insult others for a + or – reputation rating. The Witcher, on the other hand, does a seemingly better job integrating critical choices within game play. Not every choice made is clear cut black and white, good versus evil. Often the only “good” choice will be the one that causes less harm. The world is very gray. Not every consequence is readily apparent. Make a choice early on in the game, and the repercussions might not be felt until far later. The fact that not every outcome is instant, and some effects aren’t felt until hours later, makes each choice crucial. Some effects aren’t seen until hours later, essentially preventing anyone from quick saving, making a choice, and then if dissatisfied with the outcome loading a previous file. Knowing hours of game play separate this cause and effect make the game’s choices far more important than they seem.

Combat in The Witcher is an interesting compromise between turn based and real time action. Use the mouse to click on an enemy to strike with your sword, and as the attack ends the on screen cursor will flash. Another well timed click and Geralt will follow with another attack. This successful chain seems to be a happy medium between Diablo-esque mindless clicking, and actual one-click-one-hit combat. Right click controls magic, and in RPG fashion can be improved using points acquired from victories. It’ll be interesting to see if the combat is tweaked, if at all, for the console port, as most console gamers tend to prefer more twitch based game play.

With The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf announced for home consoles, there’s hope that a wider audience will be able to experience this RPG – without having to prejudge it as a Fable rip off. It stands on its own merits, and in some ways does offers a better and deeper experience. That said, if you have a PC capable of running this, it merits a try. Especially now that the very enticing Enhanced Edition is available for a very affordable price. The original The Witcher was released in October 2007, and age – along with these new game play tweaks – has treated it well.

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