Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mother Gamer Plays Witcher 2 Assassin Of Kings

I enjoyed the first Witcher game so I was looking forward to trying out the second one. I played the enhanced edition of Witcher 2 on the Xbox 360. Once the introduction to Geralt was underway at the beginning, the game started with a tutorial of the basic combat controls and information about how to use the items menu as well as upgrading Geralt's abilities. I liked that everything was concise and easy to read and I could scroll through everything pretty quickly.

Start of the game, menu system is nice.

The story itself was interesting for me and of course I like Geralt a lot because he is a complex character who isn't really good or bad, but he does try as often as he can to do the right thing and stand up for others. That's not to say he doesn't have flaws because he does, but at least he owns up to them.

 The armor was pretty cool and I liked that you get a special armor that ups a lot of stats right from the start and it was the Blue Stripes special forces armor. I did find better armor later on, but that one did nicely for the early part of the game. Alchemy is a constant of course in the Witcher games and during my adventuring I grabbed all the things that could be used for it as I went. Some things were specifically quest related so I was ready with all the right items when those happened. 

Geralt in the Blue Stripes armor.

 The battle system is well done and if a battle was challenging, I could easily switch the difficulty level to easy. For me, it was just fun to explore and look at everything because the scenery looked amazing. I put off doing main story quests just to do side quests and explore everywhere. One of my favorite side quests was with trolls because it was fun and it also showed that Geralt doesn't feel it necessary to kill every monster especially if it's not harming anyone.
 Naturally with  all the quests there are choices to make and this rings very true for the main story. Who you side with and what you do can wind up with a variety of results towards the end. I ended up playing Vernon Roche's path (humans) first and then Iorveth's (elves, dwarves, and other nonhumans) path the second time. 

Geralt helps a troll. 

While I liked both paths for different reasons, I felt that I liked Iorveth's path better. There was just a bit more depth to it for me and there were some very interesting reveals about Iorveth himself who I liked and Saskia who I thought was a great character. Some of the decisions weren't easy at all and that's par the course for the games. There's no good or bad choice, it's all a bit of gray. It definitely made me think carefully about my decisions during the game.

* Okay this is the spoiler warning. There is going to be some spoilers about the books coming up next so if you have not read all of the books yet and don't want anything spoiled, don't read past this point. If it doesn't bother you, read on.

 One thing that bothered me was something the narrator said in the game. It was a moment where it was said Triss told Geralt about Yennefer and his toxic relationship with her. I felt incredibly annoyed by that line because once again this was something that was incredibly unfair to Yennefer and implied that Triss is just so sweet all the time. She isn't. While I understand this is set at the point where Geralt still hadn't recovered all his memories and Triss is manipulating him so that she's the only romance option, I thought that was a pretty crappy thing to do. I don't hate Triss, but I don't like her either because of some of the things she's done. I know Yenn isn't perfect either, but neither is Geralt. These are all characters who are flawed and make mistakes. 

My issue is the treatment of Triss in the games just glosses over or willfully ignores what she did. It explains why so many people claim Yennefer is a terrible person and go for Triss. Triss is not so nice.  Instead of helping Geralt recover his memories, she manipulated him and seduced him with magic even though she knew that this was her best friend Yennefer's lover. Then there's the fact that she betrayed Geralt and Ciri to the Lodge of Sorceresses because they wanted to use Ciri's powers for themselves. Wow, how nice of her. Yet there's no mention of it at all until Witcher 3 and they just hint at it which is ridiculous. 

The thing is I have read the books so I know why Yennefer is like that and it's not because she's as some have put it, "a cold bitch" it's because it's a defense mechanism for not getting hurt. That cool facade is just that. The people who actually know her very well like Geralt and Ciri know her to be a truly caring person about those she loves. You don't give up your life for someone else's if you don't love them. Yes, Yennefer did that and the other side of that is Geralt traded his life for hers to the Wild Hunt. These are two people who deeply love each other.

 Yes, they had issues and they were at points in their lives when they got together where it seemed they were not ready to be in a real relationship. I mean for goodness sake, Geralt cheated on Yennefer something she does bring up and Geralt didn't fight back because he knew he screwed up. Yennefer faltered too in the relationship when she couldn't decide between a mage she had known for years and Geralt. They would part ways often, but ultimately they would always come back together. In the books it shows so much more about their relationship and you see that Geralt and Yennefer are two sides of the same coin. Both are stubborn to a fault, incredibly intelligent, and understand each other because they both had a really rough childhood. They genuinely love and respect each other. I think people who have played the game and never read the books don't get a chance to see that Geralt and Yennefer are meant to be together and the big thing is Geralt doesn't see anyone else. He only sees Yennefer because this is a person that challenges him, that is his equal, and isn't afraid to tell him when he's wrong and it works both ways. Again, these are two people who truly love and respect each other. 

 Look, I understand why they tweaked Triss a bit. It was a matter of aesthetics and adds a bit of drama to the games and that's fine. However, I wish they had been more evenhanded with both characters an show that they are both flawed, not just Triss is so angelic and Yennefer is evil because that is not the case at all. That's the only thing that really bothered me in the game and I did not romance Triss and I did not go to save her either. I'm not sorry. 

*End of book spoilers

 That bit of irritation aside, I did have fun playing the game. The Dice Poker mini game is playable here too and once again I found myself having to reload saves to be able to win the quest related matches. It wasn't a big deal and I did win after that. The matches are fairly quick and easy. I mean, it could have been Gwent. Oh yes, I went there. There are also arm wrestling matches. I did have fun arm wrestling my Dwarven buddy Zoltan. There is also the fight club mini game and that one is always fun for me. What can I say? I like having Geralt knock the mundanes around. 

Geralt kicking ass and taking names.

Doing all the side quests and main quests in Witcher 2 for both paths I did notice that the game is rather short. There's only 3 chapters of main story which isn't a big deal, but I was surprised when I was at the end of the game the first time playing. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I had fun exploring, fighting monsters, and making difficult decisions that would shape my story. Both my play throughs were interesting and I never found myself bored at all. I think I noticed more in Chapter 3 because 3 itself was so short. There were only 3 quests in it and then the ending so it felt a little abrupt. That being said, I liked Witcher 2 and had fun playing both paths and seeing the different endings. I also loved the artwork and music in the game. I'm glad I got to play it because it was interesting and made for some fun gaming.

*Witcher 2 Assassin of Kings is playable on the following platforms: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and OS X

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