A stunning game.
The graphics are amazing – even on an older machine with a 3GHz Pentium
4 and a Radeon 4600 in an AGP port they run full bore with hardly a twitch,
putting you firmly in a High Medieval, Central European world with a wealth of
detail and almost photographic realism. Fire and water are amazingly realistic
and the slow colour changes across the landscape that accompany sunrise and
sunset are breathtaking.
It's an adult world, too, not a Disney saccharine fantasy of Olden Days.
Rats are everywhere, beggars curse (colourfully) and spit, harlots offer
themselves, and complain about their aches, women are cheerfully randy or
uptight or somewhere in between (and can sometimes be seduced into bed),
everyone whinges and gripes and in a predominately human society non-human races
(dwarves and elves etc.) are treated somewhat like Jews in early '30s Germany,
apt to be set upon by red-necks if not turned on by the community as
Combat is simplified yet, in the over-the-shoulder mode, surprisingly
satisfying. Dodging and parrying can be left to the protagonist as a matter of
instinct, as it is in any master swordsman, and your only involvement is to
decide which of a number of distinct ‘attacks’ to use against the particular
opponent and, crucially, when to initiate them. Getting both right and you can
watch your avatar execute a smooth, unstoppable and damaging attack. Get either
wrong and you might to hurriedly withdraw, hurt, to re-think and try again.
Magic, too, is simplified – no having to choose between thirty or forty
spells in your arsenal. There are only five magic based attacks and, again, the
skill is in choosing the right one and initiating it at the same time.
The Witcher's innovation is in Alchemy. By discovering the formulas for
various potions, searching out the required ingredients and making them up
one's abilities can be greatly enhanced. You can even experiment by concocting
and trying our your own formulas, perhaps to hit on that elusive ‘total
Aimed at adults, the game offers choices which need maturity to appreciate.
Few are clearly right or wrong and all have consequences. This, too, effects a
‘real-world’ approach and is a welcome improvement over the “good” or
“evil” simplicity of other games.
NOTE: This version is cheap because a updated – Enhanced – version has
been released. This includes several major patches, extra content and a complete
replacement of the vocal acting which in this version was much criticised. The
enhanced content is available as a free 3GB download and can be installed on
this version, giving you The Witcher – Enhanced version for this price, which
is a very good deal indeed.