The monster slayer speaks to the soldier with quiet confidence. He signals with his fingers, his yellow eyes shine, and the soldier reveals his secrets without the slayer ever needing to unsheathe his sword. The witcher is gifted for his patience, and now, Xbox 360 owners are similarly rewarded: one of 2011’s finest adventures has come to Microsoft’s console, and it was well worth the wait. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Enhanced Edition is a treat for the mind and a joy for the senses. This superb role-playing game hits hard, drawing you into its dark fantasy world and requiring you to make difficult choices with palpable consequences. As Geralt of Rivia–the titular witcher–you seek answers in lush landscapes and burning battlefields, where great despair casts long shadows on even the sunniest meadows and lakes.
You may have heard about the stupendous visuals of The Witcher 2 on the PC, and probably wonder: how does the Xbox 360 version compare? It should be no surprise that the console release can’t match its higher-resolution PC counterpart, which was a standard-setter on that platform. Shadows are less extensive, the draw distance isn’t quite as astonishing, and some texture pop-in, jittery transitions, and longer loading times will stand out to anyone who has seen the game running at the highest settings on the PC.
And yet there is no reason to suppose you are getting a halfhearted PC-to-console port here. The Witcher 2 is wonderful to look at, brimming with visual details that refuse to be lost in spite of the hardware’s limitations. Inspect the crumbling walls of an ancient city, and you notice how every rock, rune, and fissure is unique. Nothing looks copied and pasted, but either painstakingly crafted by hand or hewn by natural forces. Soldiers genuflect as royalty passes, yet they’re not unnaturally synchronized, but instead bow and rise as individuals. A gorgeous waterfall makes for a glistening tapestry, behind which lies darkness and death. A red scar above a defiant elf’s upper lip is not just a testament to past conflict–it suggests a permanent scowl.