The Witcher 2

There are so many good things about The Witcher 2 that end up getting brushed aside due to stupid quirks with the interface or controls. I would say story wise and entertainment wise, it was as good as Dragon Age 1. That is saying a lot, because Dragon Age was the kind of game where I stayed up past 3-4am playing sometimes.

Quests are fun. Story is solid and engaging. There are 2 unique storyline paths and lots of twists and turns. The world is pretty, graphics are OK, and dialogue is fine. It’s an “Adult game” so apparently it needs to have an excess of sex scenes. Everything about this game is top notch, except for some glaringly bad interface problems.

Looting Items
When you want to loot the corpse of the monster you just killed, you have to go up to the remains and left click. Unfortunately, left click is also the button that swings your sword and if you are not exactly over the body, instead of looting you make a lunging sword slash, moving you out of range to loot. If you play this game, I can guarantee this will frustrate you throughout the entire game.

When you loot, it pops up a window of all the items. Unfortunately, it pops up the window in a static location, not under your mouse. You then have to move your mouse to the window and click to collect all the items. Back in the old days of WoW, you had this stupid looting system as well where you had to make additional clicks to loot specific items from the corpse. People got so frustrated by it that they invented mods that would automatically position the loot window to appear under your mouse cursor. Then Blizzard finally invented an option for auto-loot, where you automatically collect everything assuming your inventory isn’t full. This is a change that is absolutely necessary in any game where you loot the corpses of enemies. At the very least, you need to allow a 1 click thing to loot all and not require the user to move your mouse to the small “Loot All” button every time.

Menus and Inventory
This game has possibly the worst inventory screen of all time. When buying new equipment, it’s impossible to compare it to what you are already wearing, so you don’t know whether what you’re buying is better. You can’t sort items, so by the end of the game you have hundreds of crafting items in a random list and you have to manually scroll through it to find the 1 leather piece to finish your armor.

Equipment and crafting diagrams often have long lists of stats or information, which does not fit on the screen. You can’t manually scroll through and read this though. The information slowly scrolls and you have to wait for to get to the part you want to read, like the old scrolling TV Guide channel.

The game is strongly based around taking potions before combat to temporarily increase your stats. In order to do this, you have to “meditate” and then drink potions, which involves two painfully long animations of Geralt first kneeling on the floor, slowly drinking a potion, then cracking his neck due to the toxicity. It’s probably 30-45 seconds of wasted time. All of this can only happen out of combat, so there is no reason to require this mechanic. You should be able to set some hotkeys or at least just click on things to instantly drink potions. It’s just plain stupid.

Combat System
I played on Hard (they had easy, normal, hard, and some super hard adjective I forget). I did that because I expect that most games nowadays have dumbed down normal modes to accommodate baddies, and I expect their super hard is probably geared towards Witcher enthusiasts that probably have already played through it once. Hard seemed like it would give a good challenge while not being stupidly unfair.

Initially, the game has some really hard sections. The Kayran, the game’s first boss fight, is incredibly difficult. You can only take 2 hits before dying, and there is no healing. It probably took me 20 tries just to get into phase 2 and then another 10 tries to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to do in phase 2. Unfortunately, after that fight, the game starts to become kind of easy.

There are a bunch of fights where you are with allies. You can always trick the game AI into only attacking your allies (who are invincible by the way) and you just come behind and slash at them, with no risk. After a while, you just start spamming left click to whack down enemies as fast as possible. There’s some magic spells which are marginally useful, but since I did sword specialization I stopped using them except for the one that gave me a shield.

Anyway, the game is solid and definitely worth playing. If they fixed up the interface problems, it would be one of the best games I’ve ever played.

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