First Impressions of The Witcher 2

The Witcher 2 thus far is a deeply uneven game in it’s first chapter.   I just finished it and it gives you a handful of choices.  A handful of really cool moments.  And a lot of really frustrating unexplained mechanics and quests which expect the player to dig a lot more than the norm in  modern gaming conventions.  

Just one example of this, there’s a pair of quests in the first town where the player is expected to do some research on monsters in order to get started.  They don’t give you any directions about this just that you need to learn about the monsters.    

To find the books you’ve got to sort of randomly go into every house in town till you find the librarian, and get the books from that guy.   The combat system is a bit opaque too.  This gives the player a lot of freedom in terms of how to proceed but it also gives you a lot of chances to try and fail at things.  How much of this you can put up with is going to be a case of ‘your mileage may vary.’


Geralt of Rivia


I feel like this would be a better game had their been a bit more scaffolding in the beginning.  A bit more of a primer on how the various systems work–especially combat, crafting and character development.   There is a tutorial but it really has a lot of mysteries.  

If you’re the kind of person who likes those things, then you’ll probably enjoy puzzling out the Witcher 2.  So far it’s led me to feel a bit frustrated at times with it in Chapter 1.   I am going to keep going–but it’s not yet a game I’m absolutely committed to finishing.   

Gaming in Korea

Sorry about the lack of updates recently I’ve been sick for about a week.

Before I came here I’d heard how PC gaming was big in Korea. I’d read a lot of magazine articles that compared it to the Japanese console market. The comparision is, terrible.

The Japanese game market, arcades excluded, functions in very similar ways to the American game market. Basically it’s all based on getting people to buy your game and single and multiplayer games are both big bussiness.

The Korean game market has no single player games. Playing Starcraft’s campaign in a PC bang (read bong–an arcade for PC games pictured above) is considered rude. One of the reasons behind the lack of single player games is they pirate everything that isn’t nailed down here. In general spending money up front on games is becoming rarer and rarer. The free to play model is such big bussiness here it’s all setup on the heroin dealer system the first hit’s free. But I think that really limits the kinds of games that they can make to stuff with really good quick appeal.

At this point i should point out that there is a console scene here and piracy is still an issue there although less so. One of my students had a flash drive in her DS though. I’m not really seriously morally bothered by piracy. I’ve chosen not to do it for years now but plenty of my friends do but seeing what happens when Piracy is unrestrained makes me dislike it a lot more.

The games they do play here other than stuff from Blizzard and NC soft mostly aren’t all that well known in the West. Warcraft, Starcraft, Lineage, Diablo, Aion you’ve probably all heard of those but then you get to a bunch of free to play stuff like KartRider, Sudden Attack, Dungeon Fighter Online a lot of clones of better games. Also Maplestory and Fifa Online are huge here. At least with my students…almost all of them are into either one or both of them.

Other than Blizzard there really isn’t a Western publisher with any kind of substantial presence here in the PC space. I have seen Xbox 360s with American games in Emart and Homeplus but i’ve yet to see anyone buying that stuff.

Oddly enough the PC bangs advertise how great their computers are…and then Koreans go in them and play Starcraft and Kartrider both of which I’ll bet you could run on one of the more advanced cellphones here if you really wanted to.

Oh great a top of the line Nvidia card to play Starcraft locked at 640x 480.

The saving grace for me is that steam works here and they’ll let you bring an external storage device into the PC bang and play whatever. I just got a 500 gig hard disk which powers through the USB to take with me on a gaming bender.