The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition is an excellent game. If you don't have time to read a whole blog post (then why did you click on this in the first place?), then you an stop reading now, because you know my overall thoughts. But I'll expand on them nonetheless.
The thing that I think is The Witcher 2's biggest strength, but also the source of the game's only "frustrating" moments is the combat. Fighting normal enemies is fine, it's the boss fights that weren't so great. I don't want to go into too much detail, because I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't played it, but there are two boss fights in particular that are, to be frank, poorly designed. Each is a fight against a large monster, and (to quote a friend of mine), they "don't play to the strengths of the combat at all." And those strengths are about finding the right way to take out a group of enemies (be they people or monsters) without getting surrounded and overwhelmed (which could still result in quick death for me late in the game if I wasn't careful (but that was mainly my fault for never putting points into reducing back-stab damage)). Those boss fights play out like video game boss fights. You wait for an opportunity to attack, then you do. Then repeat that until it's dead. And they don't follow Miyamoto's Rule of Three, so they last a bit longer than they probably should.
But beyond those couple of boss fights, I thought the combat was extremely good, especially late in the game once I had leveled up a lot. The game has four "paths" in the character screen. There's the "Training" path, which is just there to force you to get some basic skills before the other three open, the "Swordsmanship" path, which has a lot of melee combat and defensive skills, the "Magic" path, which deals with magic (both offensive and defensive), and the "Alchemy" path, which I believe deals with potions and bombs. I say "believes," because I never actually put any points into it. I didn't check and see what the skills are, but none of them seemed that interesting to me.
At least not when compared to stuff like better fireballs, or the ability to create a circle that slows down all opponents inside it, but leaves Geralt moving at normal speed. Or the ability to do a group finisher, which as the name implies, allows you to finish off a group of enemies at once (I never got more than three at a time, so I don't know how many it can work on, but it does seem to have several different animations depending on who/what he's fighting). Both the time slowing skill and the group finisher skill are governed by an adrenaline meter that fills as you fight enemies (and does not deplete over time), but both are also activated by the same button (up on the d-pad). I'm not really sure why this is, maybe the people at CD Projekt Red never thought that someone would have more than one of those skills (both are near the ends of their respective "paths," and there is a similar one near the end of the Alchemy path). But it seems like something they didn't fully see out. So, what usually happens is that I would push the button, then Geralt would do a group finisher, and then cast the slow spell, which would slow down the remaining one enemy (so I guess it doesn't kill everyone, now that I remember more clearly). Or sometimes it would just slow down time, with no finisher. Maybe I should have just focused more on one path, but I'm not a min/max kind of guy, I like to be good at everything in games. Why be good at swords when I can be good at swords and magic?
While that may be a little janky, I found the story and voice acting to be far less janky. Well, some of the voice acting has a, "We hired people we found at the Ren-Fair" vibe to it, but most of the important story characters were very well voiced. Geralt and Vernon Roche stood out to me as the best of the bunch (also the best in terms of their faces, as both were among of the best non-LA Noire faces I've seen in a video game).
Of course, that was the impression I got based on the path I took through the story, which I will briefly describe within a "Spoiler Block" for those who have beaten the game. But remember, I will be spoiling a TON, so don't read if you haven't played the game yet.
Okay, the first big decision was between Iorveth and Vernon Roche. As you probably guess, I went with Roche in Chapter 1, because it seemed crazy to me to side with this Elf terrorist guy who Geralt just met, instead of the guy who broke Geralt out of prison. Thus, in Chapter 2 I was in Henselt's camp trying to disperse that curse left by the dead sorceress. A lot of stuff happens in Chapter 2, but I feel like the only thing that I really had a ton of impact on story wise was whether or not Roche killed Henselt, and I let him kill Henselt. I wasn't going to, because I had been trying to play the game as a "paragon" (to use Mass Effect terms), but seeing Henselt brag about having his way with Ves was too much. So I let Roche "have his way" with Henselt. By which I mean he stabbed Henselt. There was nothing sexual about it.
So with Henselt dead, in Chapter 3 Dethmold was in charge of the Kaedwani forces, and also holding the remaining child of the dead king of Temeria. I decided to help Roche save said child, which resulted in Dethmold getting what he deserved (death, and maybe some mold after the body started to decompose). After which I convinced Roche that instead of giving the child to the king of Redania, it would be a better idea to turn her over to the Termerians, where she would (eventually) be crowned queen. Then they went to a summit, which ended with a bunch of fighting and a dragon attacking. Geralt ran after the dragon, then I fixed a crystal in a teleporter thing, thinking that it would result in Geralt capturing the sorceress (Síle de Tansarville), but instead she fled (I would have let her died if I realized that would happen). Then a dragon attack, I fought the dragon, which impaled itself on a tree. I was given the choice to finish it off or walk away, and I walked away thinking the thing was going to bleed out anyway. It didn't, and I wish I had just killed it (oddly enough, doing so got me an Achievement for "Killing or Sparing Saskia," which confused me because Saskia was the "dragonslayer," and nothing I saw in the game showed that she was really a dragon). Then I had a chance to kill or spare Letho, so I killed him, because I didn't want him running around killing any more kings (which of course he was going to do).
And that's just the stuff that I was able to impact. There's even more stuff that I didn't have an impact on, and all the quests and story stuff that would have happened had I chosen different. Though, I should say that the people online who say that you make a choice that results in you going to one area whilst locking off another area aren't being fully truthful. What really happens (or what happened to me) is that you pick a path, which locks you off from a lot of quests, but you are given an opportunity to explore the areas "on the other side." I don't think I got full access, but I was able to explore a fairly large forest-y area and part of a town. And I was able to do one side quest that was on "that side" that involved finding harpy feathers for a guy and...Well, I shan't spoil what happens, but I'll say that it's probably the funniest moment in the game (and also really silly).
But overall I really liked the story in the game. Or at least I liked all the stuff about the kings, and all the political intrigue. I didn't really like the stuff about Geralt recovering his memories, because they were all about him trying to find a character that isn't in the game, and thus I had no reason to care about because I was never given any reason to care about this character other than Geralt saying that he wanted to find said character.
And now I'm excited for The Witcher The Third. Well, they'll probably call it The Witcher 3, and it'll probably take them a while to make it. And yes, there will be another one. The Achievement for beating the game (which is not a secret Achievement (and the game has plenty of secret Achievements)) is called "To be Continued..." And the end of the game clearly indicates that a lot of big things are going to be happening in this world, and that Geralt and company are probably going to play a role in those events.
Since I continue to not have anything going on in my life beyond video games (and that book I keep blabbering on about), I'm not really sure what to do next. The only other un-played game I have is the copy of Metroid: Other M that I bought last year for $10, but I haven't played that because my big TV broke, and my current set-up (small TV on a table) doesn't really allow for enough room to do the pointer stuff in the game. So...
I guess I could start playing Majora's Mask. A few months ago my friend and I started playing the game, but we literally haven't played since, so I'm probably just going to play it without him. We were able to get though all of Deadly Premonition and Alpha Protocol (both picked for their great stories but not so great game-play), but that was with me "secretly" beating Deadly Premonition on another save months before we were able to beat it together. We might play Fez together instead if I ever get a new TV (that seems like a game that would be good to play with two people, what with all those apparently insane puzzles). Or not, I dunno. Unlike me, he actually has a life, and a job (or at least last year he had an internship or something, so he probably has something similar), so whatever. I'm rambling at this point.
Or maybe I'll go back to Mass Effect 3. I still haven't S-Ranked it yet. If I remember correctly, all I have left are to beat the game (and every mission) on Insanity, romance someone, and get 5000 kills. All of those seem doable, just time consuming (especially the 5000 kills one, but thankfully kills from all modes/play-throughs count). Part of me kinda wants to wait until they put out the new ending DLC, but those 5000 kills aren't going to kill themselves (and if they did, they wouldn't count as me killing them). Conversely, the existing ending is astoundingly bad. But I suppose I could just skip most of that stuff since I've already beaten the game, and know what happens.
I'll figure out something, and write about what happens. But, I leave you with a clip of our greatest living voice actor, because that's what I do.
Actually, I changed my mind. I was going to embed a video of Nolan North on Hollywood Squares, but it contains footage of Brad Garrett, and I know how the GB fan base reacts to him, so watch the video at your own risk.