The Witcher 2 preview - Whats new and whats different in the 360 version

Witcher 2 drops graphic fidelity and adds new content in upcoming Xbox 360 port

The Witcher 2 is finally making its way to Xbox 360. The mature RPG from developer CD Projekt Red received high praise when it was released last year on PC. While changing a few things from the first – notably making advances to the combat system to be more action-oriented – it was able to keep the branching storyline and immersive world intact. Now the dark fantasy epic is making its way to consoles as it debuts on Xbox 360 with new content and a few more changes.

The Witcher 2 follows the exploits of Geralt of Rivia (a Witcher) as he tries to clear his name of the murder of King Foltest of Temeria and catch the real perpetrator. The dark fantasy setting puts Geralt in a dreary world where elves are viewed as terrorists, dwarves are more than literally looked down upon and the kingdoms of men are continuously in political and social upheaval. Not only will you battle huge monsters and knights in (somewhat) shining armor but you will also be making world altering choices that can affect what characters you encounter, places you travel to and quests you obtain. Sounds pretty awesome, right? So thought a lot of gamers, which is why the developers decided to not require a pricey gaming computer to play it.

With the Xbox 360 Enhanced version, all of the previous patches and content added on PC will be on the disk including the DLC quests, arena combat, Dark difficulty mode, and updated tutorial system. New to Witcher 2 will be an additional four hours of gameplay in the last chapter of the game. One of the two additional scenarios will be available depending on what branch of the storyline is chosen in your playthrough. The extra quests will introduce three new characters to Geralt’s story and two new locations to explore.

In addition to the new scenery and quests, players will also be treated to unique cutscenes, transition scenes, and ending movies that have not been seen in previous versions. Thankfullly, the developers won’t be leaving PC owners in the cold, and will be bringing the content to PC players through DLC in the future.

Even though it was possible to play the PC version with a controller rather than a keyboard, the developers made an effort to adapt the controls to better suit the Xbox 360 controller. Small tweaks have been made to the camera and targeting systems to help them work more smoothly. Everything generally works as it did before. A small icon will appear on the enemy Geralt faces which the player can lock on to by pressing the left trigger. Locked targets can then be switched using the right analog stick making it easy to keep an eye on attacking foes in Geralts periphery.

The controls feel similar to an action-adventure game. Light and heavy weapon attacks, casting magic, and dodging are all done using the face buttons with blocking and bomb throwing assigned to the right trigger and bumper. We were able to pull off sword combos, parries, and dodges with a few magic spells and bombs thrown in with ease. Anyone used to third-person action games should feel right at home with The Witcher 2’s controls.

Unfortunately, moving to console means Witcher 2 takes a hit in the graphics department. There is a definite discrepancy between the two platforms. Seeing graphics that can literally be the graphical measuring stick for what your PC rig is capable of and then see those outstanding visuals knocked down to accommodate the 360’s capabilities leaves us wishing the developers could squeeze more juice out of the console.

During our demo, we didn’t notice any hitches in the frame-rate and loading new areas was smooth as butter, but draw distances for textures are much shorter (especially when we were running through a foliage rich forest) and there is far less detail in character models and the environment. This is generally expected when bringing a PC game to console and perhaps the graphics will improve before launch. The game still does look good - just don’t expect it to be as eye-popping as it is on PC.

The Witcher 2 will be heading to Xbox 360 this Spring.

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