It makes sense that the most adult game of 2012 (at least so far) is this "enhanced edition" of The Witcher 2, the second in a series of RPGs based on a collection of fantasy swords-and-sorcery books. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It holds a place in gaming similar to the one Game of Thrones has in TV and literature; packaging sex together with politics, violence, and their consequences to deliver a clever, mature game for a clever, mature audience.
The game's opening cinematic is a detailed introduction into the Witcher's world and it's all the preparation you'll need. From there the mysteries and trials of this fantastic setting await. Regicide, conquests, town justice, monsters, power struggles, all playing out against backdrops of breathtaking beauty or urban despair.
Your character, the Witcher Geralt, is a mutant and so is the perfect soldier for you to navigate through the socio-political minefield. He's blessed with the skills and knowledge of warfare both human and non-human, and as a being not wholly belonging to any pure race, can be trusted and loathed and bargained with according to your own design. You'll be expected to make choices, but what they mean to the game - and to you - depend entirely on your own morality.
The combat is based on the use of medieval weapons, magic, and traps. If you are an impatient fighter, you may ignore the opportunity to lay a tripmine, but expect heavy damage if you under-prepare and fight carelessly. The enemy AI will punish your mistakes severely at any difficulty setting, meaning the extra time taken to get ready for each melee is ultimately worth it.
The Witcher 2 has its flaws. A quick shuffle so Geralt can detect an enemy's dropped purse is a common dance on the floors and dirt. The alchemy and craft mechanism requires you to pay closer attention than a relaxing game experience should demand of a player, and sometimes it seems like the aiming of projectile weapons - even during those glorious, slow-mo fight sequences - is designed for the purpose of pure mockery.
This is an ambitious RPG that will demand at least 30 hours of your time. You'll give them up gladly if you want more from your "Sopranos meets Middle-earth" experience than passive observation. The blend of crucial storytelling elements and bone-breaking action make this a must for serious gamers.
Platform: Xbox 360
-TimeOutBy Troy Rawhiti-Forbes @TroyRF Email Troy