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The Witcher Review (PC)

The Witcher is an adult RPG (Role Playing Game) sets in medieval era. Witches, Knights, Vampires, Elves, Dwarves, you name it. “Wait… Adult RPG? What do you mean?” The Witcher contains nudity (if you grab the uncensored European version), a few mild sex scenes, and “violent” languages in its dialogues. It has a good story and after some hours of game play, you’ll feel an attachment to Geralt (your character), the Witcher. If you decide to buy a new RPG for your PC, get this one! I’ll explain why.

Graphics

The Witcher is beautiful. The scenery is amazing and feels…medieval. You’ll need a powerful card though if you want to ramp up the graphics settings. My GeForce 7600GT is struggling to keep everything at high especially during night time with lots of lightings around. The character models are quite good but can be horrible sometimes. You’ll notice as well that the models are quite repetitive too in the game. You’ll find many Mr. John Smith everywhere in the game, only to find out that he is actually Mr. John Doe after talking to him.

The effects are pretty good; blurry screen when you get too drunk, fire and burning flame effects, the fighting animations, etc.


The Witcher is simply.. beautiful..

Storyline and Quests

Witchers are basically demon/monster hunters. They rely on their swords a lot (Steel swords for fighting humans and Silver swords for fighting monsters), a bit of magic, and also on potions to buff their abilities. At the beginning of the game, you are simply seeking revenge from a group of “bandits” that called themselves “The Salamander” which is lead by a powerful mage. The story, of course, as simple as it may sound, will go deeper and deeper as you play through the game.

There are lots of side quests in The Witcher which are there to boost your experience for leveling, orens (cash in a nutshell), and *ahem* to have a good time with the female quest givers. In this game, you are so hot, handsome, masculine that almost every lady that you get in touch with, is attracted to you and *ahem again* “opened” up to you. After a short blurry animation scene with them, you will get a collectible card (different for every woman). The cards have nothing to do with the story. They are there to fulfill your satisfaction of relationship accomplishment or your manly ego (especially if you are having trouble with women in your real life).  How the ladies can get attracted by a male who is sterile (A Witcher is a mutant, sterile but immune to diseases) and have so many scars in his face, amazes me.

The quests are interesting and most of them have reasons behind it. As traditional RPGS do, most of the quests involve killing X amount of monster A, or at least involved in some killings. However, the quests never feel dull and repetitive, mainly because the quest giver usually has a storyline attached to it. A grandmother who acts differently because of a monster controlling her mind in her house basement, monsters that have disturbed a merchant’s trade route, and so on.

 

 


NPCs

The quest tracking system is very good. It gives a summary of where you are at on every quest and also points the active quest’s location on the map. You can never ever lose track of quests.

Some quests also have a twist of themselves and you must decide on how to continue on. Some quests and decisions that you make are no black and white, such as:

  • Helping a soldier whose girlfriend had been murdered, only to find out that he actually raped the girl
  • Should I kill the witch that is responsible to make a poison or should I kill the person who asked the witch to prepare the poison?
  • Should you persuade a hooker who runs away from her bad husband (who is the quest giver) back to her home?
  • Do you let a cannibal live so that you can get a potion formula or save mankind by giving him the killing blow he deserves?
  • and many more

There are times when you feel like loading a save point, only to find out what will happen if you choose A instead of B. Of course, the slow loading time is there to stop you in doing this.

 

Slow Loading Time
When I say slow loading time, I mean it. It IS SLOWWW. I have a dual core Intel, 7600 GT, 2 GB of DDR2 RAM and SATA2 hard drive. The loading time is daunting especially when the game is trying to load a city or a big area. It’s fairly quick if you enter a cave or a house, but the game will reload everything back again once you get out of the house.
If you don’t believe me, try searching in Google and type these keywords: “the witcher slow loading”. You’ll amazed by the results :D
The developers promised an incoming patch that is rumored to improve the load time performance. We’ll see. Until then, be prepared to see the loading screen often.

UPDATE 21st December 2007 : The Witcher patch 1.2 is finally out! Read about it her

Gameplay

There are few cameras that you can set, according to your style of gameplay. You use the standardized W, A, S, D to move around (if you choose the “F3 Gameplay Camera”, a semi-first person mode) or clicking your mouse a la Diablo in Third Person view camera. Fighting involves pointing and clicking your mouse to an enemy that you want to attack. You don’t do rapid clicking though, but based on timings. On easy to normal mode, you will see an indicator as to when you should click next to perform a successful combo. Clicking on the right timing gives you a continuous combo. Clicking on the wrong time, however, and the combo is cancelled and you’ll give your enemy a time to counter attack you.

There are 3 kinds of attacks: Strong, Fast, and Group. Fighting a big slow enemy? Switch to “Strong” attack and deliver a massive damage! Fighting an agile enemy that always dodges your attacks? Switch to “Fast” mode,  a-lesser-damage-but-guaranteed-a-hit -attack. Being surrounded by more than 1 or 2 enemies? No problem. Switch to “Group” attack mode to make sure you hit all enemies and giving them no chances to attack you back.

You are going solo in this game. At some points of the game, there will be NPCs that will follow you during a quest and help you to fight. Don’t expect them to do the dirty work for you though and they usually don’t stay very long.

 

Inventory & Alchemy


Horrible inventory system

The inventory system is horrible (sorry to say). It’s basically an unsorted inventory where all things are everywhere. You’ll have to roll over your mouse to find whether you have vodka in your inventory or not. You can sort and rearrange your inventory, but you have to do this often.

The alchemy though, is quite interesting. It allows you to make potions based on some ingredients or extract nutrients from plants or monsters. It’s kind of hard to figure out though, what formula is missing for potion A or B, unless you do massive mouse roll over here and there. I don’t find making and drinking potions are interesting enough, as I can play through most of the battles without drinking potions.

 

Other interesting stuffs to notice

NPCs will walk around and interact by themselves (doing conversations). There is a day-night cycle when you are playing the game (robbers in the city come out at night, some monsters/spirits appearing near the cemetery, traders close their shops, people go back to their houses and go to bed, etc), rains (NPCs will start running around looking for a shelter and start complaining about the rain as we usually do :)), birds on the ground flying when you get too close to them, guards will help you to kill monsters or bandits that have been chasing you around, and there are many more.


Hide! It’s raining!!”


Crashes

There are many people on the web experiencing crashes. I had that experience before where The Witcher crashes every few minutes on my Vista. I found a post somewhere on the internet that suggested me not to play the game in full screen. I followed the advice, and since then, I only have a few rare crashes. Besides, playing the game in a window helps me a lot: I can chat in MSN and browse the web while waiting for those horrible loading times (ALT-TABing)

 


Go and buy this game, now!


Conclusion

Despite the long loading times and a few crashes in the game, The Witcher is one of the best RPG that I’ve ever played. I loved Oblivion and its open-ended gameplay, but the main story line didn’t impress me at all. The Witcher has a good main story, good side quests, some decision making, attachment to the game characters and many more.There is also a mini game of “poker” in the game. It’s quite fun to play and you can gain orens from it (mm I mean, cash)

I’m now far in the middle of the game. It’s time to stop writing this and find more ladies to ..*ahem* I mean, find more monsters to slay! Hope this small review is useful to you. What are you waiting for? Go and buy the Witcher for PC, the best RPG of the year, now!..Ditch your Oblivion and its expansion packs! ^^

Note: Some of the screenshots are taken from The Witcher’s official website

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