Sunday, May 22, 2011

TW2 Playthrough: Uncle!

Hours In: 5
Character Level: 4
My Score: 75 (Paused)
Metacritic Score: 92 (no change)
Player Score: 90 (no change)

    Boy do I suck at The Witcher 2. In fact, for the sake of my dignity - not to mention my sanity - I'm shelving the game for the time being. How bad is it? I had to turn the Difficulty down to Easy and repeatedly check online spoilers just to make it through the Prologue. I've heard the game actually gets easier from here, but I found the sequence immediately after the Prologue to be even more frustrating.

    Mercy, please.

    Based on my (limited) experience, the game features a lot of QTEs (quick time events) and tightly scripted scenarios that amount to mingames. A lot of people have compared the gameplay to Assassin's Creed. I can't say whether that's accurate or not, because I've never played Assassin's Creed. Which - come to think of it - might actually be the crux of the problem. I'm an RPG-only player, and the tricks and conventions of other genres are alien to me. Hell, not being able to pause is alien to me. This is one of the few games I've played in the last, oh, 15 years that tests my reflexes.

    My minimum spec computer probably exacerbates this. Other people have complained about the game's lack of responsiveness - especially in combat - so it's hard to know how much of my own struggles to attribute to my puny rig. What I do know is that if I have to play a twitchy game, I don't need the additional handicap of a sluggish system.

    But, I hasten to add, it's not just me. The game has some seriously opaque game mechanics, with a very basic in-game tutorial doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what you need to know. It also seems pretty buggy, even for a day one release. In one case, I encountered what seemed to be an impossible QTE that was blocking my progress. After some online research, I learned that I had to turn up the Difficulty from Easy to Normal in order to get the on-screen cues I needed to get past it. (By the way, I didn't find that out from the official forums, as they've been suspiciously "down" since the game launched.)

    It's a shame, because I can see why so many people are gushing about the story and game world. The Prologue features a number of set pieces that are astonishing in their level of detail and sophistication. In a way, it's like playing through one of those premium period dramas like The Tudors or The Borgias (I've seen every episode of both, so that's a big compliment coming from me). Unfortunately, as with Gothic 2, I feel the frequent reloading mars the narrative.

    Of course, I could leave the game set on Easy, disable Difficult QTEs, and probably make it through (though it didn't seem to help me in my last pitiful foray into the game). But then I might as well be watching one of the shows mentioned above. There wouldn't be much of a game left - at least not one I would enjoy. I'll probably give the game another try when the patch comes out next week, but I don't expect it will fix everything that's "wrong" with the game from my perspective.

    So, this Playthrough series is suspended for now. I'll pick it up where I left off if and when I start making notable progress on TW2 again. I wouldn't even rule out the possibility of being converted to a fan at some point. A number of people whose opinions I respect seem to love the game, so I'll give it a few more chances to win me over.


    1. Can't say I blame you much on needing to take a break from The Witcher 2 after the Prologue. It was a brutal introduction to their new game mechanics with little to no tutorials.

      Running into a group of bad guys is a sure way to die. The game forces you to use Quen to protect yourself and Yrden or Aard to keep them off you. Most one on one battles can easily be won with the Yrden spell unless you're fighting a boss. Don't forget that you can block attacks as well with the E button. Probably not that useful until you buy the Riposte upgrade though.

      The QTEs didnt really add anything to the game, and I felt like it could've been removed all-together. The combat has its ups and downs. Long as you can keep your Quen spell up and enemies in front of you and not behind you, its usually not that bad.

      The plot was pretty good though although it seemed more akin to Mass Effect 2 in the sense that it was just a setup for Witcher 3. Make sure you read some of the journal entries though. They often tell you more about the plot that they do in dialogue, especially about any dreams you might experience.

    2. I totally agree with this.

      I just uninstalled the game after spending an hour trying to pass the second 'chapter' of the prologue.

    3. Brutal series of posts...

      I've not played any of TW2, but you've convinced me I don't want to. The lack of a mouse pointer is pretty much a deal breaker for me before any of the other issues.

    4. It sounds like the game has made a rotten first impression. I'm still interested in it, but with the control issues I might as well wait for the PS3 release. Unless I upgrade before then.

    5. Didn't find the prologue all that difficult to be honest (Played on hard) but I can see how it might frustrate. I found the latter parts of Chapter 2 to be far more rage inducing.

      Amazingly realized world though, the care and attention to detail set a new standard.

      CD Projekt are working hard on patches so hopefully this will help address some of the issues that many of the reviewers and players have discovered. The combat sure is in need of a re-balance though - for the boss of Chapter 2, I simply hit him until he died. No blocking, no dodging, just button bashing. Fighting multiple enemies at once is also something that needs to be addressed. It seems the only way that you can deal with them is to kite the group, get a few hits in on the nearest target, go back to kiting, rinse, repeat.

      Stunning game though, but not without some pretty glaring flaws.

      (Oh and PLEASE fix those bloody doors!)