The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Box Art(http://en.thewitcher.com/)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB. I make it a point to watch the opening of a game the first time I play it.  I’m not talking about the first cut scene in-game; I’m referring to the movie they put before you even get to the menu, the movie that’s supposed to give you the tiniest taste of what the game will be like.  Luckily for me, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition gave me a full length feature that ran about 5 minutes long and overdosed me on astounding graphics and an immediately intriguing plot.  With my expectations already blown away before I hit new game, I was more than ready for a beast of a game that would definitely continue to impress.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Box ArtThe Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Logo(http://en.thewitcher.com/) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. I make it a point to watch the opening of a game the first time I play it.  I’m not talking about the first cut scene in-game; I’m referring to the movie they put before you even get to the menu, the movie that’s supposed to give you the tiniest taste of what the game will be like.  Luckily for me, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition gave me a full length feature that ran about 5 minutes long and overdosed me on astounding graphics and an immediately intriguing plot.  With my expectations already blown away before I hit new game, I was more than ready for a beast of a game that would definitely continue to impress.

**WARNING** The following video may contain content inappropriate for children**


Presentation:
The Witcher 2 takes place very soon after the final events of The Witcher.  Geralt of Rivia, one of the last remaining witchers (a magically enhanced human-turned-super human), is employed by the king to protect him after a failed assassination.  As soon as the king he was supposed to be protecting is successfully assassinated, Geralt is imprisoned, escapes, and then begins his quest to find the killer.

The characters of this game are intensely dependent on their stories from the first Witcher game.  Geralt has lost his memory of his life in the first game, while his companion Triss and even King Foltest played critical roles in the plot of the original.  Jumping in with no knowledge of the first game’s storyline (which is exactly what I did) will make the plot much harder to follow, but it’s still understandable.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots

Graphics:
Wow, what a difference the Enhanced Edition made.  Watching the first opening of the game (that pre-menu cinematic I mentioned earlier) took my breath away.  Body movements and kinetic motion are completely realistic, and the consistent use of slow motion throughout the entire game constantly highlights the impressive graphics.  I also loved the little details: ice fracturing, blood spilling, hair catching the light…it was all so real.  In game features weren’t quite as stunning, but they’re still very good.

The camera is moveable, and it will shift quite nicely with you as you move.  The cinematic scenes shift the camera to create dynamic angles that focus in different ways, much like a movie camera would.  Perhaps that’s the best way to describe this game: the graphics, the plot, the characters…it’s just like a movie.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots

Sounds:
Besides the obnoxious King Foltest, I enjoyed the voices of this game.  Every character was unique, and it was fantastic to hear the singing or squabbling of the guards as I moved up through the battlefield.

I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack, and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition actually came with the complete soundtrack on its own CD.  Complex drum sequences that change tempo according to your situation combined with the haunting female vocals throughout completely capture the otherworldly feel of both the overall game and Geralt as a character.

Gameplay:
The game is surprisingly simple to play.  At first I felt very overwhelmed with my choices of weapons, traps, spells, and potions; the tutorial is strong and thorough, but it moves through these various fields of gameplay a little quickly.  However, a few rounds in the initial training ring helped smooth things out.  My only real complaint is that I have to watch a lot—and I mean a LOT—of cut scenes before I get to do much.  Even when you get a command and the opportunity to play, it’s sandwiched between more cut scenes.  There’s just a tiny bit of hesitation when you’re attacking or jumping, but the game is overall very smooth. 
The intricacy of the game is incredible.  The blend of alchemy, spell use, monster hunting and human fighting is effortless.  An enormous world to explore and a huge array of quests (the enhanced edition even came with a quest guidebook, which was intimidating) that vary depending on your choices make for a shifting plotline that blurs the boundaries of good and evil.  Unlike Fable or Fallout, it’s almost never clear what side your choice lies on, and you’re left to reap the benefits of your in game choices frequently.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Enhanced Edition (Xbox 360) Screenshots

Innovation:
The biggest leap from the original for this series would be the choice of platform.  I don’t care what kind of Alienware you have; a PC game is always improved when it moves to a console.  Unlike The Witcher, the sequel is available on the Xbox 360, and this provides a wide new array of improved graphics, more abilities, and faster, more responsive gameplay with a much more intuitive AI.

Longevity:
Judging by the quest guide, this game is huge.  Astoundingly huge.  The arena provides a great opportunity to test your newer skills, and while there is no multiplayer, you can still work on playing new minigames and searching for more quests throughout the game.

Conclusion:
It’s great to see a game from a smaller studio surpass the giants that surround it.  This game skyrocketed beyond my expectations, and by the time you read this, there’s a good chance that I own it.  The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition took an old concept and revitalized it, then proceeded to beat every other similar game into the ground.  This game was fantastic, and as much as it pains me to not be playing it as this moment, I cannot wait to play it again.

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