The Witcher 2.

For several years, I was addicted to a computer game called The Witcher. It was a great first person fantasy game with real time combat, good puzzles, and a very good, and in depth, virtual world that lent itself to exploration and character interaction. Michelle would come into the study and say, “Oh, Fabio,” because of the long hair of the protagonist. I’m pretty sure that I’ve played through it about 5 times now, only the first time having no idea about anything in the game other than what I discovered as I went. (On subsequent playing I had read about all of the things I’d missed and made sure to do things right.)

I was excited when The Witcher 2 came out because, by all accounts, it was just like the first one but a lot better. I’ve only just started to play it but I’m already disappointed. I just can’t get used to the new interface. It’s just difficult to use. This is not because I have a poor video card and am simply having problems with the game being slow on my system – rather, I just don’t like the new interface elements. It’s not only different (and in a bad way) from The Witcher, it’s also different from almost every other “first person shooter” game I’ve played. I shouldn’t have to fight with manipulating mouse, keyboard, and onscreen elements – I should end up immersed in the game itself, and not even really be aware of the fact that I’m “controlling” things. Yet, that’s not the case with The Witcher 2. Instead, I end up cursing at the game mechanics the entire time I’m playing it, and I don’t really look forward to sitting down and seeing what happens next because I know that I’m not going to have a good experience.

I even have problems with the simple visuals. I’ve read a lot of reviews about how stunning the game is. Being constantly distracted by having to fight with the game engine aside, I haven’t even really found that to be the case. One of the problems is the lighting. Either everything is too dark – even in mid-day it doesn’t seem as if there’s enough light – or, if I turn up the brightness, it’s too bright and details get lost in glare that’s been introduced.

As of this moment, if I were to give the original game a score of 10, I’d have to give this game a score of 6 – and that’s if I’m being generous. I’m actually quite amazed that I haven’t read a single negative review in line with what I’ve experienced. A lot of people mention problems with the menu system. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. (Even though the mouse pointer is far too slow when navigating the menus. Not when actually playing mind you, just when using the menus. I find this very odd and, frankly, rather surprising as something as simple as that should never happen. I’ve tried several suggestions to fix this, all to no avail.) For me, it’s the actual game play, and not menu system navigation, that’s important. Strangely, nobody in their reviews mentioned the problems that I’ve had. The game is fast and responsive – it’s just … “klunky” (for lack of a better word) and hard to control. I spend far too much time correcting what I’ve done and trying to point at the right thing, or go to the right place. The difference between the original game and this one is like night and day, and I wish that I could have the old game engine back – although with the game design changes (such as new combat mechanics, etc.) that have been made in the sequel.

I’m really hoping that it will grow on me, but I’m afraid it won’t.

Another game that intrigues me is the upcoming Legend of Grimrock. I stumbled upon it when looking at a review of Minecraft – also an interesting game, but not one that’s to my personal taste. LoG seems like something very simple and fun. Perhaps just the thing for me to get over my disappointment with The Witcher 2.