The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a dark, mature gem of an RPG that does justice to its wildly successful prequel, The Witcher, while managing to take a compelling storyline in all-new directions. Like the first game, the player takes on the role of Geralt of Rivia, a complex and not always likable character who wields the power of sword, bow and magic.

This game sports a fully realized fantasy world of complex and very-human characters. With more than a few twists and turns in a plot of revenge and the search for a killer, the player's decisions in key moments dictate which direction the story will take. This creates a sense of power not often felt in gaming. Geralt can be a stand-up citizen, but has his own demons that frequently come out in conversations with other characters.

Excellent voice acting helps these characters to feel real. The storyline begins with Geralt being mistaken for the recently murdered king's killer, and the search is on to clear his name. Without spoiling an excellent story, the player's actions will dictate Geralt's true nature and fate.

Combat takes place in real time and is so much more fun than the typical click-fest found in other RPGs, with dodging, blocking and unleashing powerful witcher spells necessary for survival. The learning curve is steep, but Geralt becomes gradually more powerful in a way that keeps combat fun and interesting. Enemies range from various deformed ghouls to animals to some people you'll truly feel bad about having to dispatch with. This game reminds of a dark version of the Zelda series, except with a cast of characters that feel so much more human.

There are a couple of caveats to be aware of. First, play The Witcher--the original game--first or you will likely find yourself terribly lost in the beginning stages of the storyline. Assassins of Kings does not do a very good job of familiarizing the player with the intricacies of the storyline to date.

Also, this is not a title for the faint of heart. Unlike typical RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, Assassins of Kings has mature themes of constant sex, drinking and gore. With such a dark storyline, it would feel unnatural not to include these elements, but this is certainly not a game for children.

With a long main quest line and lots of minigames, sidequests and various time-wasting activities, this is a game that will keep you busy for many a long night of "just one more quest."

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