Hours In: 4
Character Level: 2
My Score: 75 (-10)
Metacritic Score: 92 (-2)
Player Score: 90 (no change)
Good news. Installing the new beta NVIDIA driver has solved the worst of my technical difficulties, freeing me up to, you know, actually play the game. I still have the lip-flapping issue in conversations and some mouse lag on certain UI screens, but performance is fine when I'm actually running around in the game world.
Now that I'm playing the game as it was intended to be played, I can offer my initial impressions. In my search for answers to my performance issues, I've come across a lot of other opinions about the game, and I think the critique I would offer fits with a lot of the complaints. It's early and I could easily change my opinion later, but here is what may be my final take on The Witcher 2:
While the game is everything one could have hoped for artistically, it's decidedly not an old-school CRPG. When CD Projekt RED said the game was "designed with console in mind," they weren't kidding. Anyone who was horrified by the direction of Dragon Age 2 ought to be downright mortified by TW2.
Despite being vaguely aware of the "console" quote, I was taken off guard by this myself. In my joke post comparing DA2 and TW2, I had TW2 whispering to PC players that it wouldn't "be thinking of other people when I'm with you." In fact, TW2 is not only thinking of other people, but screaming their names out. And those names are "Xbox" and "PS3."
The biggest problem for me is simply the lack of a mouse pointer, which makes basic tasks a lot harder than they should be. If you were designing this game for the PC only, I don't think there's any way you would not include the pointer, even if you were still committed to WASD controls for movement. It's obvious to me that CD Projekt RED is banking on a port, and simply wanted the game to play the same across platforms.
This results in some serious annoyances for a PC gamer like myself. For one thing, finding and clicking on interactive objects is a chore. As opposed to the usual case where you can send your mouse pointer roving for things to click on, in TW2 you have to be standing directly on top of an object before you know whether it's interactive. In a game world where interactivity is so selective, this is a problem. You have walk over to heaps of trash to find out whether you can search them. Some objects, like doors, are always interactive, but most often are locked anyway. It's nuts.
|"I should be able to climb over this obstacle or blast it with my Aard spell, right? Oh."|
Secondly, I'm convinced a big reason people complain about the combat system being "clunky" is due to the lack of a pointer allowing you to target enemies. Unless you tell Geralt to lock onto an enemy, he simply targets whomever is closest. A typical scenario: Geralt hits an enemy, who staggers backward. Now a different, off-screen enemy is closer, so the next time you click, Geralt somersaults off in a completely unexpected direction. If you're a console player, you might respond to that with "so what?" But as someone who plays exclusively on the PC, I find it needlessly disorienting.
I know, I know, I just have to learn the system. The cues are there. I suspect that as I play through the game, the interface and controls won't bother me as much. It's a -10 now, but by the end of the game, it might be more like a -5.
It's will always be a negative, though, because there's no way this is optimal for the PC. And that means there's no way this is an old-school CRPG.