Still More Impression About The Witcher 1…

Still More Impression About The Witcher 1 after the break…

Still More Impression About The Witcher 1…

Some time ago, I made a commitment to only have one game on my system at a time and to only add another once I had completed the previous game all the way through to the end. I never knew just how difficult fulfilling such a commitment would become. There are days when I’d love to just install “Oblivion” or “Fallout 3” again just to ‘mess around’ or even review some of the newer mods that have since premiered. I’ve also been tempted to download and play some freeware independent games, attempting to rationalize that they weren’t “real” games and, therefore, didn’t count.

Yet there are certain rewards for playing games past the point when you get initially annoyed with them. I’ve learned through this experience that my tolerance for undesirable game play mechanics is remarkably short, whether justified or otherwise. I would be, as it might be said, “A fair weather gamer.” Being a “fair weather gamer” would have, for instance, deprived me of experiencing a rather neat moment in the previous game, Cryostasis, where I saw enemies attack me from within the confines of a motion picture screen. It wasn’t enough just to “see” that moment in an Internet video but to have slogged through all of the trials and tribulations to have gotten to that moment was especially rewarding. As the saying goes, half the fun is getting there.

Having played “The Witcher” for quite a while now, here are my impressions:

  • It Really Deserves The “M” Rating. I’m not fluent with the ESRB ratings for games like I am with the MPAA ratings for movies. If memory serves me correctly, the ratings for the ESRB are (in order of mature content): E, T, M & AO. I most likely didn’t remember one of the ESRB ratings when writing the others down but those that I did write down are the majority of the ratings. Do you remember when “Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion” had to switch their rating from a “T” to a “M” because modders had found a nude skin texture within the game files and could apply it outside of the game? “The Witcher,” when you add the v1.5 patch and the Director’s Cut patch most deservedly earns a “M” rating and, in my opinion, stands right at the cliff before falling into an “AO” rating. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing but parents who normally see a “M” rating and say to themselves, “Oh, come on… I’ve seen worse in a PG-13 movie,” may want to reconsider if little Johnny is adept at the Internet and can download such patches.
  • Needs Fast Travel. I know that “hardcore” RPG players hate fast travel for a variety of reasons: It dilutes the illusion of immersion in a game, it allows the player to “cheat,” etc so forth. Yet, a lot of regular travel advocates forget that the rest of us have lives. I don’t have time to constantly trudge through a swamp or memorize a city’s street diagram. Yes, run through a city enough times and you know that the jail is near the hospital, that the detective’s apartment is near the gate for the dike (that’s not a slur, “dike” really means outside the gates to boats), that the cemetery is close by to the slums and the inn is located right in the slums. The point is to not memorize such things but to have fun and fun, for a lot of people, is not pretending to be a GPS locator.
  • Get Rid of the “Sex Card” Silliness. I understand that “The Witcher” is not an original property but adapted from the works of an author. For all I know, the novels that this game is based upon could read like male romance novels with the main character, Geralt, bedding more women then Captain Kirk. If such escapades work in the novels, then that’s great and I have not problem with such things as I will most likely never read the novels. However, in the game, it just doesn’t work. Yes, teenage boys tend to be horny, most of them are heterosexual so they would naturally be hard pressed not to pass up the opportunity to earn a picture of a woman with little to nothing on. Yet this feature does absolutely nothing to advance the game. Which brings me to…
  • Did I Have to Play as Geralt? Again, I’m sure that playing only as Geralt, “The White Wolf,” is a hold-over from the novels, or the TV series or whatever else influenced this feature. I’m sure no one would be complaining about James Bond if such a James Bond computer RPG came out or as Sherlock Holmes if a Sherlock Holmes adventure game debuted. Yet games are different from novels or movies or TV shows or comics or the like. There’s a reason why Oblivion allows you to create your own face (and choose your own gender), why Ultima VIII placed a face-hiding helmet on you and why you never hear Gordon Freeman talk: Because developers know that gamers are more motivated to play games when you get to be immersed in the game that you’re playing. Yes, you can still play a game if your character is an 8-foot tall Ogre or whether you’re a 4-foot tall snarky female elf but the difficulty factor increases because those characters aren’t you or don’t even represent who you want to be in the game.
  • I Like The City Atmosphere Over “Oblivion.” Being inside only one section of the city Vizima, I can report that Vizima is more of a city then any of the cities from “Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.” It feels more like a medieval city then Oblivion: The ground is muddy, everything is packed in, people run for cover when it’s raining, the guards walk around to patrol, small children run around wasting time by chasing each other, there’s laundry hanging on a clothesline… Granted, the Witcher still has annoying load zones for just about everywhere, including going up and down stairs (why?), the houses or apartments that you enter are far larger then what is suggested on the outside and most people shrug you off with a comment without being able to converse with them further.
  • I Want To Play All of the Quests the First Time. I appreciate the hardcore RPG convention that I have to decide if I want to side with the Reds or the Blues, the Talls or the Shorts, etc. so forth. Yet I am not the audience that will be playing this game five times in a row just to get to the quest that one must carefully plan out for. Yes, quests should have branching resolutions but why penalize a player for making a choice that results in having less game to play? I don’t want to save a game in the first chapter to give me the opportunity to play a quest in, say, the fourth chapter because I sided with this group instead of that group. I want my money’s worth and I don’t want to waste time going back to a save game so I can give the trader gold instead of diamonds and now have access to three additional quests as a result of it. Once I’m done with this game, I’m done because there are several more games to go.
  • Steal What You Want, When You Want. Perhaps one of the more mystifying aspects of the game is that people have no problem when you go into their homes and rifle through their belongings, taking whatever you want right in front of them. I don’t understand this. Is it the difficulty setting that I’m playing on? I don’t think that it is.

I’m close to finishing the second chapter (I understand that there are 5 chapters with an epilogue) and there’s been a lot of game so far. Yet it’s also been a bit of a drag because of all the backtracking and running around and fighting. I know that I’m not playing the game as efficiently as I could be (I haven’t gotten all of the “trophies,” I’ve botched a few quests, I’ve traveled back and forth more times then necessary between the swamp and the city, etc.) and that’s also been a bit of a burden because I know that, short of watching those extra moments from a video on the Internet, there’s no way I can access those moments now save for restarting the entire game (which I have no intention of doing). While I’m glad that I’m playing the game, I’ll be just as glad when it is finally over.

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