Ask your RPG loving friends what the best role-playing offerings on the PC are and they will likely say The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, World of Warcraft or Fallout. But while each of them is great at what they do, none comes close to the level of hardcore role-playing depth offered by The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
While it didn't enjoy the sales success of a Skyrim or WoW following its original release last year, The Witcher 2 was critically acclaimed and taken to heart by a passionate group of RPG fans, namely the kind that love to swim in screens of stats and favour a darker edge to their fantasy. Developer CD Projekt is well aware that there are plenty of likeminded Xbox 360 owners, hence the upcoming release of The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition Assassins of Kings on Microsoft's console.
The Witcher series of games is based on the novels written by acclaimed Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski and takes place in Temeria, a medieval fantasy world squarely aimed at mature audiences. There's plenty of violence and profanity, and a fair bit of nudity too, all of which is handled responsibly. Content-wise, it's closer to Game of Thrones than Lord of The Rings, and that's what fans of the novels and the first two games love about the world.
The Witcher 2 sees players take control of Geralt of Rivia, one of a few remaining Witchers - travelling monster hunters for hire, gifted with unnatural powers that enable them to take down supernatural creatures. Since these nasties make short work of ordinary men, Geralt has developed his body to an almost super-human level. At the heart of the game is a deep combat system which rewards well-timed attacks with good chunks of damage and punishes absentminded button mashing by making enemies brutally efficient at exploiting mistakes.
On top of the hacking and slashing, Geralt is able to access a range of powers to help him gain the upper-hand in battle. Players can brew potions to give him buffs and enhancements which allow him to dictate the flow of combat and deal heavy damage. He can cast spells such as Aard, which stuns opponents; Igni, which sets foes alight, Yrden, which immobilises enemies, and Axii, which turns an adversary into a friend for a short period of time.
The Enhanced Edition offers around four hours of extra gameplay content over the original, encompassing new characters, missions, extra quests and a couple of fresh areas to visit including an underground location beneath an Elvish mountain town and caves hidden in the Loc Muinne forest. CD Projekt has also teamed up with BAFTA winner and Academy Award nominated illustrator, animator and director Tomasz Baginski to create hours' worth of stunning new cut-scenes and cinematics.
The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 looks beautiful and offers tons of satisfying, hardcore role-playing gameplay set in an immersive fantasy world. It's also bigger than ever in this Enhanced Edition and it's hard to not be excited by that, whether you're new to the series or an existing fan keen to experience it again in all its glory.