12 December 2007 | thepotoo
Possibly the best RPG ever
First, the good: Graphics are excellent, the game runs well even on a low-end computer, and the story is one of the best in gaming history.
EDIT: The 1.2 Patch has corrected long loading times.
There are a few low points, most notably long loading times, but these are easily forgotten as you get caught up in an incredible universe. Rather than some cliché Utopian Star Trek world like Oblivion had, The Witcher is about the worst of human nature. Racism against non-humans, prostitution, gambling, sex, and violence are rampant here. It's a terrific take on a Lovecrafitan kind of world, and I throughly enjoyed every aspect of it. Mythology and history from our world are combined flawlessly with creative new monsters and an expansive back story. (Be sure to check out the in-game journal for more insight on the world. It's the best I've ever seen).
The philosophical aspects of the story are all there, and I really enjoyed them. Free will vs fate, the meaning of life, what it means to be human, science vs religion, you name it, it's there. And the best part is, you are actively involved in creating these themes through your decisions. Fantastic.
Combat is good as well, the system is original, and while it took some learning to master, I never got sick of it even after around 200 hours of game play (I beat the game 3 times, once for each ending).
Now, the bad: (These are all really just nitpicking, except for the long load times)
-Loading, loading, loading. I swear, this game takes longer to load than any other game I've ever played. 2+ minutes just to load a house? You've got to be kidding me. EDIT: Ignore this, as of 1.2, loading times are now 5 seconds to load a house.
-Mob balance. This game starts off pretty well, but it becomes ridiculously easy in act 4. Act 3, (especially the swamp) was really, really hard, and then, all of a sudden, it's like someone turned down the difficulty. I've never faced such an easy final boss. I defeated him without losing more than 25% of my health (hard mode). Kind of anti-climactic, if you ask me. -Ingi sign is amazingly overpowered.
-Inventory and quest management system needs help. Badly. Icons are tiny and impossible to distinguish from one another.
-Act 3 performance issues. This game runs poorly on single core And processors in act 3 (outdoor areas only). Settings don't matter, the game gets a constant 5-10 FPS in this region while the rest of the game gets 25-60. I've tested on 3 computers, all had the same problem.
-Poor replay value. With most RPG's, you can play whatever class you want. Here, you can play a battlemage, an alchemist, or a swordsman, but that's it. No ranged offerings, no stealth.
-Without going into spoilers, I felt that the story (the game's strongest point), was kind-of a letdown on my second and third time through. The choices you made throughout the game didn't really impact the ending as much as I thought they did the first time I played the game.
-Redundant people. Everyone has clones of themselves running around everywhere. Yep, it's annoying, but it's hardly a make-or-break feature.
The bottom line: It may seem like I'm being hard on the game here, but I really, really loved it. The 1.2 patch should fix most of my grievances. If load times weren't so long, this would be a 10/10 game for sure.
EDIT: If you patch your game to 1.2, you will get much, much better load times. My final rating: 9.3/10; one of the best games ever.
This game is very, very similar to Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines, however the story here is stronger and the replay value is a little weaker. If you like RPGs like Oblivion, Vampire Bloodlines, Gothic, or NWN, or dark fantasy in general (I especially recommend this game to Wheel of Time fans), this is a must play.
EDIT: The below tips are still useful, but are less so as of patch 1.2.
I feel compelled to point out that loading times can be improved upon, if you do the following: RAM upgrades: I upgraded from 1GB 166mhz ram to 2GB 200mhz ram, and loading times decreased 45% Defrag: Get a real defrag utility and defragment your hard drive. I recommend Perfect Disk (free demo available). This one helps in game performance, too. RAID: I can't personally afford it, but if you have the technically savvy and the cash to blow, a friend of mine RAIDed two 15,000 RPM SCSI drives and decreased loading times to around 5 seconds.