Friday, 1 July 2011

Impressions - The Witcher 2

Impressions is where I write what I think about games I haven't completed yet. They won't always be bad games necessarily, but I'll try and analyse just what has stopped me from completing them.

So, The Witcher 2.

I take umbrage at The Witcher 2, but my problem is not with the game itself. You see, I was a true "direct" RPG player. Give me a Morrowind, Oblivion or a Vampire Bloodlines any day, but Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age or World of Warcraft I could never get used to. It was the controls, and as a consequence the "hands off" nature, as I saw it at least, of the gameplay that I could never get my head around. Put simply, I wanted to be the one doing stuff in the game, not my character.

Then along toddles The Witcher 1. With its dark mood, buxom wenches and the opportunity to be a right bastard I decided to give it a shot.

Nope. Still that "hands off" control put me off. I bought it on release in 2007, and between then and earlier this year I must have started it, and then been put off it about 20 times. If I never saw Kaer Morhen again it would have been too soon.

Then a couple of months ago, with the release of TW2 imminent and nothing else to really play I decided to give it one more go. Whether my tastes had changed I don't know but I quickly got used to the controls and slowly began to fall in love with the game. It became one of those games I couldn't wait to play, and when I wasn't playing it I was thinking about playing it.

With the prospect of more, newer, Witcher out there I bought the special edition of TW2 before I'd even finished TW1. This was a mistake, as I found myself speeding through that first game to get onto the second one. If I liked the first one, I'd love the second, right?


My spidey sense kicked in when I saw the menu screen. It looked like the menu of a valve game, and that put me off. I love every one of valve's games, but in TW1 a large part of the charm was its "rough around the edges" feel. It felt like a PC game from the mid nineties, when the connection between developer and player was much closer. We'd laugh and cry together, and everyone could leave their doors open. Not like today where the chasm between developer and player is huge, and if you turn your back on it for one second a huge Bobby Kotick rises up and shoves a guitar hero controller up your rectum.

With only one button on it.

And then demands that you pay for the extra buttons via microtransaction.

I think I've digressed a bit.

So the realisation dawned that CD Projeckt were attempting to leave behind the indie feel of their last game. OK, that's fair enough. And I wasn't about to start judging a game I had anticipated for a while based purely on its menu screen.

The shocker came when I started the game proper. The control system that I had worked so hard to get used to in the previous game, the control system that I had grown to love with a lot of difficulty, was fucking gone!

In its place was a far more accessible, direct control system that I would have loved a few months ago. That was annoying.

The next thing was the journal. It probably seemed like a good idea to chronicle the different quests and their consequent stages as if they were parts of a book and it forms a delightful read, but how the fudge am I supposed to know what I am doing?

Now this is another personal gripe, but I can't be alone in this. See, I like story driven games, and I like drinking while playing story driven games. It's a tricky balance purely due to the fact that it's very easy to get shitfaced and completely have no idea, when I come back to the game the next day, about where I am or what I'm supposed to do.

That's not so bad when you have a journal like the one in TW1-

Succinct and to the point, right? I read one line and I have a pretty clear idea of the story thus far and what I'm supposed to do next. Unlike this -

A Nekker? Blowing up their entrances? How do I blow stuff up? What's a Nekker? Is that racist?

I actually had to look at the Witcher wiki to find out that I could make bombs, which I could then use to blow up the Nekker entrances.

I know all this may be trivial. The information is evidently there somewhere in the game, it's just my opinion that if you're going to make a more mass market appealing RPG, don't lull me into thinking everything is going to be simple and straightforward then expect me to work out that I should go see Phlegmbit the dwarf to buy some ingredients, then take those to Gigglesnatch the bellend who will make them into a bomb if only I can work out the stupid minigame to put the right amount of ingredients in the right order in their inventory.

And what's with the waggly penis thing on the back of Geralts head?

What annoys me most of all about this game is that I know it is fundamentally GOOD! All these niggles have only come about because of my luddite attitude towards the RPG control systems and my expectance of the same, and nothing more, from the sequel.

I'm going to take a break from it for a while and restart it from scratch sometime. I've had Dragon Age squatting unplayed on my hard drive for a while now, I may as well get that on the go while I'm still in "Old Skool" RPG mode.

Odog Out.

1 comment:

  1. Hey man nice article, and i agree with you about the RPG games. I cant wait for the new Elder Scrolls to come out! Ive been playing oblivion so much lately preparing myself for the release