MASSIVE Witcher fan here. And just as a note, if Portal 2 didn't come out last year, The Witcher 2 would have been my favourite game of 2011. Formerly released exclusively on PC, CD Projekt RED have now bestowed the world with The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition for Xbox 360 (along with Enhanced Edition FREE content patch for PC). This is the first time a Witcher game has graced a console with its mighty RPG greatness. Bringing with it the all the extra content of the Enhanced Edition, including 36 new minutes of epic cinematics and hours upon hours of new playable content.
When the Witcher 2 (W2) landed on PC early in 2011, it was quickly recognised as one of the greatest RPG's of the last few years. Along with its stunning graphics, world class combat, W2 allows the player to create their own story, conducting conversations in a Mass Effect kind of way, but with questions that aren't so clear cut. All of this has been painstakingly transferred over to the 360 version of the game. And it is still damn good.
Graphically it is amazing to see the W2 on 360, very few compromises have been made to get the game to run on the now ancient hardware. CD Projekt have said they completely rebuilt the game for the 360 version, the effort definitely paid off, creating one of the best if not the best looking games on the platform. Character models look crazy detailed, landscapes are huge and draw distance is impressive. There are a few concessions for the console version however, as soon as Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher) introduces a soldier to his blade, they fall to the ground and the corpses disappear almost instantly. Having played The Witcher 2 before on PC, I noticed many times where the Witcher and other characters were wearing hoods, where in the PC version they weren't. While this might have just been a style change or a bold fashion statement, it was probably saving the game from having to render some difficult flowing hair.
There are plenty of loading screens and I noticed a definite increase on the 360 version over the PC variant. They weren't painfully long by any means, and if you install the game to the 360s hard drive, loading times are even shorter. There definitely are drawbacks graphically to playing on Xbox, but by no means are they big. A lot of time and effort has been put into getting this game to look freaking great on the 360. Just make sure you play it in HD and install the game to your 360's hard drive if you can.
You play as Garalt of Rivia, the game starts with Garalt in prison, and you soon discover he has been framed with the murder of a king. The journey begins with you heading out to set things right and during your quest Garalt will be killing dudes, making complex potions, casting spells and hooking up with lots (and I mean lots) of sexy ladies. Garalt is a total player, and everyone knows him wherever he goes. Some fear him and his witcher status, and some are more than happy to go along with whatever he says. Combat in W2 on 360 is obviously all performed by the controller (the PC version also supported gamepad). I'm happy to say that after a short while the controller felt completely natural, I wasn't fighting with it, or wishing that I had a keyboard and mouse. Combat feels fast and technical, and making potions (which is a big part of the Witcher's day to day) didn't feel cumbersome. No compromise had been made to get the full RPG experience onto the analogue sticks and in some ways it can be better than a keyboard and mouse.
The story for W2 is one of the best, the series is based on a Polish novel series of the same name written by Andrzej Sapkowski. Set in a fictional medieval world, you encounter monsters, knight like soldiers and dragons and the story deals with the politics of kings and betrayal. The RPG elements are insanely deep, allowing you to develop Garalt in anyway you want by focussing on combat, spells or alchemy. Conversations play a big part of the game, draw information from scumbags or try and flirt with the ladies to get them into the sack. If you don't feel like playing the story, take a break, do some monster hunting quests for some coin or play some dice and get smashed at the local tavern. There is a lot to do in the world, especially now the with the EE version. CD Projekt constantly support and update their games with fixes and even new free content, expect to get value for money here.
If you didn't notice by looking at the title, Witcher 2 is a sequel. The original Witcher game deals with quite a lot. And within its own right is an awesome, long epic RPG. But while I can't say none of it relates to what happens in W2, you definitely don't need to play the original to understand what the hell is going on in 2. If you are unsure about something or someone in W2 you are given ample opportunity to have a chat to anyone and ask questions. If you don't know why someone is trying to get in your pants or why you hate a particular sect of freedom fighters, don't worry, ask around and you will find out. So don't let the fact this is a sequel turn you off. I wouldn't recommend going out and playing the original Witcher game on PC first if you are unsure if you will like the series, play 2 first then go back, an unorthodox recommendation I know, but take my word for it.
W2 is an intense deep RPG, however it isn't one for the younglings of this world. It is full of adult themes and graphics, containing severed heads and naked ladies (and I mean naked, nothing here goes unrendered). Garalt has conquests on the battlefield and in the bedroom. While it might sound perverse here, it is mostly tackled in a mature manner except when it is making fun of itself. So don't let that turn you off. The story is deep and pertains to a lot of in fighting, betrayal and conspiracies. It is intellectual by nature and damn interesting. The combat however, if you play the game on easy, can almost be hack and slash, where on the harder difficulties it is insanely technical, you have to anticipate every blow.
The entire time I played W2 for 360 I was blown away by what CD Projekt got out of the 8 year old console. Sure there are sacrifices made, but this is by far an excellent way to play the Witcher 2. Console fans can relax knowing this isn't a copy and paste port job. The story is insanely good, it will stick with you like a good movie and choices you make can drastically change the direction of entire chapters of the game. While you don't create your own character, this is your own game and there are a huge number of variables at play here. Replay value is very good.
If you like bloodshed and deep RPG's, I hereby recommend this game to you. Even if you don't like RPG's I recommend it to you. I would recommend this to any gamer over the recommended age. The Witcher 2: Assassins of kings - Enhanced Edition, is a phenomenal game. Everyone should buy it, play it then put it proudly on your shelf for everyone to see. Support CD Projekt, very few production studios are taking their audience seriously and are dishing out a mature game for sale. Massive respect to them.
If you read this review and thought that I sounded pretty one sided about W2. Well, I don't care, it is awesome. The new 360 version is just as good, the new content is amazing and graphically it pushes the limits. It is the kind of mature game the world needs.