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The Best Thing at GamesCom 2010

Posted on 20th Aug 2010 at 21:03 by Joe Martin with 22 comments

Joe Martin
GamesCom 2010: I've seen a lot of games in the last four days. A lot. I've sat through a lot of presentations, jotted down a novels worth of notes and stifled a lot of yawns. In the coming days and weeks I'll be mentally sorting the wheat from the chaff, but right now there's one which, I feel, deserves a little pat on the back.

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings looks amazing. Graphically, artistically, mechanically; it's impressive on all fronts, standing alone as easily the best game I've seen in the last week – and, as I say, I've seen a lot of them recently.

It's the sheer quantity of titles I've surveyed that gives The Witcher 2 the edge though, I think. There's only so many times you can sit on a backless bench, the air filled with Eau de Journo and watch a tired, probably hungover developer go through the same hyperbolic speech he's given a hundred times in the last three days before the games start to run together.

It doesn't help that there's usually a PR manager sat in the background somewhere, making sure that none of the really interesting details slip out. Is Title X going to support Feature Y? We couldn't possibly comment on that at this time.

The Best Thing at GamesCom 2010
Click to enlarge

With that in mind you'd expect The Witcher 2, my last meeting of the entire show, to be the most weary of them all. In actual fact though, it was the opposite. The four members of the development team, including lead writers, artists and designers, crowded out the marketeers and presented the game with real passion. They joked, laughed, answered questions candidly and honestly and knew the product they were showing at an intimate level. That last bit is perhaps the most important, at least to those of us who've endured completely uneducated demos before.

The game itself is a sight to behold too, with the team clearly having taken fan feedback on board at the earliest stages of development. Witcher 2 is more detailed and frentic than it was before, with slick combat and a more polished interface that removes the poorly explained aspects of the original. The game has arguably slipped a bit closer to being a hack and slash judging from the way some features have been streamlined, but there's still oodles of stats to obsess over.

Nearly all the changes are for the better too, such as Geralt's medallion, which now simply scans for contextual hazards when activated rather than forcing you to flick through Magic or Monster scanning modes. The interface has been polished too, while the world is more interactive and detailed – letting Geralt use his magics to light or extinguish torches, opting for stealthy or violent approaches as deemed fit.

The Best Thing at GamesCom 2010
Click to enlarge

The team has spent a lot of time broadening the scope of the story as well, creating more paths for players to explore. One of the highlights of the presentation for me was getting a look at the flow-diagrams used for plotting the story – a zig-zag of plotlines and narratives spanning into multiple distinct branches. The Witcher 2 has sixteen unique endings to the original's three.

None of this means that the game itself will definitely turn out brilliantly though. I've learned to stay away from making such productions since last year, where I saw a brilliantly built demo of Sega's Alpha Protocol that got me really excited...and, well, we all know how that game turned out. That's why I've not called this blog post 'the best game at GamesCom 2010'; I can't tell yet whether it was the best game or just the best presentation. I won't know for sure until I get a chance to go hands-on, I think.

Then again, while I'm not yet utterly certain that The Witcher 2 could turn out to be an instant classic, I will admit that I'm quietly hopeful.

22 Comments

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pimonserry 20th August 2010, 22:20 Quote
I never really heard much about the original. What are they like? Something like Dragon Age, Oblivion, or more like Tomb Raider?

Pictures look decent anyway :)
WildThing 20th August 2010, 22:23 Quote
Sweet! Really want this to be good, just have to wait and see.

P.S. Mmmmm, tits
ramliz 20th August 2010, 22:31 Quote
The witcher 1 is amazing made me love rpg's. A must buy for me eagerly waiting for this one.
CardJoe 20th August 2010, 22:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimonserry
I never really heard much about the original. What are they like? Something like Dragon Age, Oblivion, or more like Tomb Raider?

Pictures look decent anyway :)

More Dragon Agey, out of those three choice. Really stands on its own though, IMHO. Difficult game to love, but ultimately worth it in many ways.
erratum1 20th August 2010, 22:36 Quote
She has huge jugs.
fingerbob69 20th August 2010, 22:55 Quote
As the caption says...

Click to enlarge.

OMG I'm a geek!
chrisc1277 20th August 2010, 23:10 Quote
i agree with the above, those jugs are huge... what did the article say???
TWeaK 20th August 2010, 23:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerbob69
As the caption says...

Click to enlarge.

OMG I'm a geek!

And here I was thinking 'I wish there was something witty written in the caption'!

+rep for you my friend
Hovis 21st August 2010, 00:16 Quote
If I get started now I might just finish The Witcher before the new one comes out. :)
Lockinvar 21st August 2010, 01:38 Quote
I tried to get into the original and couldn't - largely I think because the animation was terrible. It's superficial I know, but the jolting character movements and combat really destroyed the submersion for me.
m0ngy 21st August 2010, 05:27 Quote
Is The Witcher v1 worth playing now? It's 3 years old, and I've already completed Dragon Age + Awakenings. Has it dated a lot?
triprunner 21st August 2010, 09:50 Quote
witcher imo kicks DAO's ass especially in the "maturity" aspect of both games. witcher touches upon racism, rape, abuse, sadism, violence... plus it has a very dark and often violent humor.
DAO's "mature" content is mostly fountains of blood and gore, average fantasy plot but nothing special and apart from morrigan's character (which could easily might've been plucked straight out of Witcher's universe) it didnt shine for me like Witcher did 3 years ago.
CardJoe 21st August 2010, 10:02 Quote
That's a good way to express it actually; if Morrigan was one of your favourite characters from Dragon Age: Origins then it's likely you'd like The Witcher. You have to patch the game up though, to get the new adventures and translations.
yakyb 21st August 2010, 11:10 Quote
great game the first one difficult choices to make the whole way through each impacting upon a later storyline
Blademrk 21st August 2010, 14:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
None of this means that the game itself will definitely turn out brilliantly though. I've learned to stay away from making such productions since last year,

I predict that this should have been 'predictions'?
Hovis 21st August 2010, 14:56 Quote
The thing with Morrigan is that she's a bit mean and sarcastic but underneath she's actually not such a bad person, once you get on her good side. In the Witcher it's more the other way around, lots of characters seem nice and end up being unpleasant, and even more just are unpleasant and seem unpleasant and turn out to be even worse. It's kind of a film noir style of fantasy story, with Gerelt as a sort of grubby Galahad trying to do what's right if not by letter of the law then at least his conscience. Both Dragon Age and Witcher are mature enough to force the player to make hard choices and have to deal with the consequences, I think that is a key factor because in many ways those decisions are the hardest parts of the game.

That said I didn't like The Witcher as much as Dragon Age. For all that is good about the Witcher it is a hell of a slow burner. I didn't see the light of day for about a week when I got my hands on Dragon Age, and I'm onto I think my third playthrough. The Witcher I've always run out of enthusiasm by about chapter three. This time though, I will succeed.
thehippoz 21st August 2010, 18:05 Quote
witcher is definitely one of those games you have to play.. the combat is different too (a bit easy once you get the hang of it)- at first you'll be like wth

there's a lot of things you can collect and the atmosphere is good, walking around town and passing a dwarf who says f it! fist fighting in the taverns for money.. graphically the game owned and has great videos.. plus there's no gay gang bangs like in dragon age

dragon age imo was more mouth than story.. think half the game was voice acting seriously

was able to play it full up 16q aa, nice engine
sear 21st August 2010, 18:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
plus there's no gay gang bangs like in dragon age
I'm not sure if this is a joke or not, but I find it kind of ridiculous that you would single out the ability to have same-sex relationships as a negative quality, especially considering how utterly insipid and objectifying The Witcher's depiction of most of its women is.
SaNdCrAwLeR 21st August 2010, 18:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimonserry
I never really heard much about the original. What are they like? Something like Dragon Age, Oblivion, or more like Tomb Raider?

Pictures look decent anyway :)

the Witcher started out as a Neverwinter Nights Mod back in the days :D so yeah it's obviously heavilly influenced on Bioware's own array of games!
PingCrosby 22nd August 2010, 00:01 Quote
Looks good, looking forward to it.
_Metal_Guitar_ 22nd August 2010, 14:41 Quote
I enjoyed the first Witcher game far more than DA. It was very similar to the typical fantasy RPG/Action game that DA is, but it had that extra layer of grime we see in our world every day. That gave it a far more mature feel than persistent gore ever could.
robots 23rd August 2010, 06:45 Quote
The Witcher also has probably the worst combat I have ever seen in a game. It was so bad.. It totally ruined the game for me. The rest of the game was good though, but the combat killed it for me. If this sequel can improve the combat, it could be a great experience.
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