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.’

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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.   

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Portal 2 Single player review

Portal 2 is the sequel to the Orange Box throw-in Portal.  A game which surprised the entire world and blew some people’s minds.

I thought it was a very clever puzzle game that had a last level that really hinted at much bigger things. It hinted at using a portal gun in a more traditional gamey environment.

But then Portal 2 starts and you’re back inside Aperture’s testing facility.  And you’ve got to go get a Portal gun and start solving puzzles.   And for a while the game feels completely like more of the same.

Then you go to some other places and always stay there a bit too long.  You’re always given not enough new story material to really satisfy.

The new puzzle mechanics are creative and at time they’re really satisfying.  However the game seldom thrills.   It’s more of a smug look how smart I am feeling which frankly is a pale imitation to the bathe me in dopamine stuff that’s pretty normal for video games nowadays.   If using your logical brain while you play videogames is something that appeals to you greatly then your experience may be better than the very good experience I had with Portal.

In the end the only thing that’s wrong with Portal is the beginning feels very much like the same of a game we all played to death.   White tile buildings now with some vegtation in the halls with simple puzzles.  After they introduce new mechanics like like light-beam bridges, gels and gravity lifts the game takes off.

Finally, it tells a very well contained story.  It doesn’t feel like it’s out there to set up a sequel which  isn’t something I can normally say about games anymore.

Also due to the PSN outage I can only talk about the game’s single player component.

Hopefully now Valve can just get on with making Half-Life.    In the end I’d give this game a B+ but so much of that is because I don’t feel rewarded when I solve a puzzle like I do when I shoot someone in the face.  Which I admit, could mean something is wrong with me.