The Witcher:
Meet Geralt

By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 28, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 133 comments

The Witcher is a role-playing game, as opposed to an RPG. While theoretically the same thing, the acronym “RPG” has mutated to encompass games in which you control a soulless empty shell of an avatar with no personality or history who levels up as the story goes on around him. So I’m calling The Witcher a role-playing game instead of using the slippery acronym to highlight the fact that you play a role here. Ergo, you pretend to be someone else. The problem is that this persona is set in stone before you even install the game. At the onset you are handed an immutable character, created by the designers, who then give you almost no freedom to deviate from their vision.

Hello ladies.  Meet Geralt, the famous Witcher and even more famous <em>sex machine</em>. You <em>know</em> you want him. Kiss his leathery pockmarked face and run your fingers through his mop of stringy grey hair. He’s just like Brad Pitt, except without the good looks, wealth, talent, or personal hygiene.
Hello ladies. Meet Geralt, the famous Witcher and even more famous sex machine. You know you want him. Kiss his leathery pockmarked face and run your fingers through his mop of stringy grey hair. He’s just like Brad Pitt, except without the good looks, wealth, talent, or personal hygiene.
In the Witcher you play as Geralt, a monster hunter in a brand-new yet tiresomely familiar swords & magic style medieval fantasy world. Geralt looks like a played out and washed-up rocker leftover from the 70’s – an over-the-hill manslut with delusions of coolness and relevancy. Someone akin to Mick Jagger, only less successful and even more creepy, who trades on his long-faded fame in an effort to bed girls half his age and delay the realization that his glory days ended about two decades ago. I picture him getting up each morning and looking at his pasty withered mug in the mirror while thinking, “Yeah baby, I still got it“.

As the game progresses, Geralt will meet many buxom young ladies in distress who will offer themselves to him if he helps them out of their (sometimes trivial) predicament. Taking them up on the offer results in a PG-13 sex scene, followed by Geralt being awarded a rated R playing card with a picture of his latest conquest. The goal here seems to be to collect them all, which (according to the wiki) is a list of twenty women. The choice is always binary: Sex or no sex. You can’t opt for money or information instead. You certainly can’t form a relationship, much less marriage, with any of these ladies. In fact, if you talk to them later they have nothing to say about your one-time tryst. Even if you decline the frequent and inexplicable offers for sex, the people you meet often refer to your past exploits, so you can’t really change that aspect of Geralt. If you don’t like it, the best you can do is choose not to behave that way during the game. From a roleplaying perspective, the whole “collectable sex card” business makes it feel less like playing a lecherous old man and more like just being one.

Does Geralt sound like someone you want to play? A lot of your enjoyment of the game hinges on your answer to this question. Some might like it, in a “playing-the-flawed-good-guy” sort of way. Heroes with faults are usually more interesting than their more idealized counterparts. Maybe his ugliness or awfulness will give the game a certain novelty for you. There are lots of tabletop gamers who play the horribly scarred, brooding, but inexplicably promiscuous adventurer who collects sexual conquests the way other players collect notoriety or magic items. He’s certainly a break from the square jaw goody-goody medieval superman knockoffs that have been foisted on us over the years. I would give the game full points for allowing you to inhabit this archetype, if not for the fact that this is the only character you can play.

For me, inhabiting the role of Geralt was about as much fun as shuffling around the house in Hugh Heffner’s nasty old bathrobe, which forever stinks of booze, smoke, Ben Gay, and Old Spice. As Geralt I was more interested in finding someplace to take a bath and get a haircut than I was at bedding all the dirty peasant women I met.

On top of the personality railroading you undergo as Geralt, the character is suffering from an unsurprising and completely needless case of amnesia. The amnesiac videogame hero was played out back when we were still running 2D sprites through mazes, but at least in those titles of yesteryear it served as an underlying explanation as to why the main character was such a blank slate. But here the main character isn’t a blank slate. He’s actually a very clearly defined character and the whole amnesia business just adds a bunch of unwelcome clutter and friction to the dialog as Geralt stops and explains his condition to everyone that he meets. The amnesia business could be removed entirely with a little re-writing of the dialog, or by simply having Geralt explore someplace he’s never visited before. The amnesia doesn’t add a sense of mystery or tension. I never once worried that anyone was trying to take advantage of my condition. (Which would have been unfair anyway, since the game never gives the player the option to try and hide Geralt’s condition. He blabs it to everyone he meets, which rubs me the wrong way for an adventurer making his way in a hostile and uncertain world.) From a storytelling perspective, I don’t see any reason for the memory loss outside of the fact that all the other games do it.

For me, a roleplaying game with a fixed character is like a version of Gran Turismo with the Nissan Skyline as the only car you can drive, or a version of Madden that only lets you play as the Cowboys. That’s fine if that’s the choice you were going to make anyway, but it puts the game in a straightjacket for everyone else.

Disclaimer 1:

My objection to the behavior of the main character is purely from a “fun” standpoint, not a moral one. I’m not saying we should only play upstanding, moral, monogamous, honorable family men. I’m not suggesting that games are for kids and that they shouldn’t deal with this sort of subject matter. In fact, I fully endorse and strongly encourage the evolution of games to aim themselves at the grown-up world. I’m just saying that in this particular case the main character is dreary and alienating, and the whole sex-card business is hopelessly juvenile within the context of this otherwise gritty world.

Disclaimer 2:

Lots of new readers lately, so I think I should re-explain how I do these reviews. Most people are used to the traditional “game review”: a general overview of a game, followed by a numeric score.

Before you go running off to spew invective at me in the comments and tell me how great this game is let me explain that I am not “reviewing” the game in a thumbs up / down sort of way. This post is one of (probably) many that will talk about various aspects of the game, what worked, what didn’t, and will (inevitably) have a little armchair game design of how I would have done things if anyone had been foolish enough to put me in charge.

 


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133 thoughts on “The Witcher:
Meet Geralt

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Yep, definetly spicier, Shamus.

    But I like it, generally. I recently watched Yathzee’s (?) review of the same game, and I think you two think alike about it. You certainly hit the nail about role playing game.

    On the other hand, think of it like a Play. You have a set character, with a set personnality. Sure, you have to give a little pazziaz of your own, but his personnality is plot-relev…

    Wait. Is his “conquests” plot relevant?

  2. Hal says:

    I’m curious about Geralt’s T&A CCG. Do those cards give you any sort of in-game bonus, or is it just for you to pull up and ogle whenever you’re feeling like pixelated tatas?

  3. July says:

    I don’t think fixed characters are necessarily a bad thing, if it allows for a more involved and interesting story. (Xenosaga, anyone?)

  4. Matt K says:

    Personally I applaud them for at least trying something different than the countless empty shell games (also the game is based on a polish book).

    I think this kind of game would have gone over better if there was any sort of market for non-Japaneses role playing games. Off the top of my head I can only think of two (Mass Effect and NWN 2) that are on the market right now.

    That said, I couldn’t get past the intro in the demo (yes they actually had a demo) because I couldn’t figure out the fighting system. However I do at least give the developers massive props for what they are doing even if the end product wasn’t my cup of tea.

  5. qrter says:

    The cards give no bonus at all. The cards are the “prize”, if you will.. it’s all a bit silly.

    But I loved the game. For me it has a very distinct European taste to it, which is grittier and darker in tone.

  6. Count_Zero says:

    IIRC, the character of The Witcher came out of a series of Eastern European (I want to say they’re Russian, but I could be wrong so I’m going to weasel out of it by being vague) fantasy novels (the first book is available stateside – I don’t know about any of the others.

  7. Allan says:

    About the sex cards, almost all the “sexual conquests” are totally irrelevant to the rest of the game, so complaining that you either do them or don’t is like complaining that your free soup isn’t to your taste, if you don’t like it, no loss, it’s free afterall. You could of course argue that if they’re so irrelevant they needn’t be there at all and I’d agree in that aspect.

    And I didn’t really mind being stuck with Geralt, the way Mass Effect went with commander Shepard is like a watered down version of how the Witcher deals with Geralt. By giving you an established character, although you don’t get as much choice as you might with an open character, the choices you do make can be much more meaningful and have far greater impact, this gets very apparant as you go along and get further into the story where you past choices start coming back to haunt you.

  8. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    I realize you are exaggerating about the whole “amnesia” schtick, but I feel obligated to point out he only mentions that to people who call out his name and expect him to remember them or something. If a particular character doesn’t intimate that they knew you before, amnesia never comes up. I knew the whole “amnesia, oh noes!” thing is the oldest cliche in the book, but CD Projekt at least had a reason for using it: It let them use the various characters from the universe of The Witcher without requiring you to actually recognize them. By putting Geralt in the dark they sidestepped the possible scenario where he knows whats going on but you the player is left scratching your head. (Odds are good most people outside of Poland had never heard of the novels the game was based on.)

    Also, my eyes!! That screenshot is terrible, do you have the texture settings on low? You aren’t kidding when you say your PC is underpowered apparently.

  9. Shamus says:

    Gildan: I don’t think turning up the graphics would help Geralt’s looks. This is a guy who benefits from looking as pixelated as possible.

  10. RandomGamer says:

    Ok, random query. Is there anything out there in the KOTOR/KOTOR2 ilk right now? Even from the last few years – I don’t care if it is a bit older, I don’t care about latest and greatest graphics.

    I think I’ll watch these reviews with some interest – I’ve been on the fence about Witcher and whether or not I should bother with it.

  11. Dys says:

    The role is fixed, the character stats are decidedly not. You mentioned that this is different from the current rpg format, but I’d like to propose that it’s just the void character from another angle. As far as your input into the game world is concerned, the character is irrelevant here. Immutable and therefore not part of your individual experience. The personal touch comes, like with a nothing character, in how you place skill points and how you play the game outside of dialogue.

    Incidentally you do / can form a lasting relationship with at least one of the women in question, though what happens after that I don’t know, since I chickened and carried on with the whole manslut aesthetic.

  12. Tom says:

    I think the point of employing the amnesia cliche was to satisfy another genre convention: starting a character from “level one” and getting more power/skills as you progress. I guess the other way to do that with such an established (from the books) character would have been to do a “prequel” sort of thing.

    Incidentally, Age of Conan is doing something vaguely similar with its single-player quests. As you complete those missions, your reward is to remember what a bad-ass you USED to be, earning you a bump in a stat of your choice.

  13. Johan says:

    “So I'm calling The Witcher a role-playing game instead of using the slippery acronym to highlight the fact that you play a role here”
    In my opinion those are Role Watching Games (RWGs) rather than Role Playing Games. To me it’s the difference between watching a movie and playing a game, they’re both great, but still distinct.

  14. Snook says:

    “Also, my eyes!! That screenshot is terrible, do you have the texture settings on low? You aren't kidding when you say your PC is underpowered apparently.”

    Yeesh, personally I’d say they’re damned good graphics. My card is even more underpowered (GeForce 5200 wut wut) so anything that looks that good amazes me. Much like Shamus I don’t care for the push for more pixels. Just let me run the damn game, I don’t care if I’m playing with legos. Actually, by now I’m so used to running games at 12-15 fps that anything more is impressive…

  15. Z!re says:

    I remember trying Witcher, I think I played it for about two hours total before I gave up and uninstalled it.

    It’s horrible and all you do is click your way from one battle to the next.

    Calling this an RPG is blasphemy!

  16. Zukhramm says:

    I think, there’s nothing wrong with giving you no option but a pre-created character with personality and back story, as long as that is the starting point and you can move away from it thoughout the game.

  17. Shadani says:

    Seems like a waste to play the Witcher now, as the ‘Enhanced Edition’ will be released soon (and it’ll be a free download for those who already have the original. So yeah).

    But as others have already mentioned, the amnesia factor, while not a perfect solution to the dillema the devs were faced with, is pretty justified in this instance. After all; you don’t want to learn Polish and read half a dozen books before you can appreciate what’s going on, right?

    The pinup cards were unncessary, I agree. Letting Geralt sleep around a bit if you so desire is all fine and well, but I couldn’t help but feel the cards were an insult to the player (Congragulations! You completed a subquest! Here’s some nekkid piks!).

    As for Geralt’s appearance, I really don’t see the problem. But then, my aesthetical tastes are pretty broad.

    RandomGamer: Well, there’s Mask of the Betrayer (the first NWN2 expansion), which is, IMO, completely and utterly awesome. An immense improvement over the original game’s good-but-flawed campaign. There’s also the Storm of Zehir expansion and Mysteries of Westgate adventure pack on the horizon. Also see Mass Effect if you don’t mind some shooter with your RPG.

  18. Luke Maciak says:

    Shamus – the game was based on a very famous Polish fantasy book series. The Witcher stories were incredibly successful in Poland and are a staple of Polish fantasy genre. I haven’t played the game so I can’t say anything about the plot, but having read few of the books I can say they had some substance to them. I remember that nothing in them was black and white – everything had this duality to it.

    For example the Witcher profession itself. Witchers were feared and hated by most people – considered to be abominations of nature. But they were considered the lesser evil if a monster was threatening your village.

    The world itself had some interesting twists on the old theme too. For example, instead of Humans, Elves and Dwarfs living in harmony like in most Fantasy settings the Witcher world was torn by racial tensions. There was was a lot of prejudice, and inter-racial fighting.

    I’m not sure if this made it into the game but a running theme in the early books was the guerrilla movement of non-human freedom fighters. Young and ambitious Elves and Dwarfs were forming small riding parties fighting for better treatment, equality, reclamation of their lands and etc.. Most of the time they were outnumbered and simply slaughtered by local human defense forces.

    The twist was that Elves were only fertile up to a certain age. So all the young elven idealists and patriots were running off to get themselves killed in hopeless guerrilla warfare while the whole race was heading towards extinction.

    The books were decent. There was also a movie and a TV show based on them which were hated by just about everyone. It sounds like the game is yet another failed adaptation. :(

    Also, if anyone is interested in the novels, at least one of them is available in English from Amazon. This is the first book which is actually compilation of short stories featuring Geralt. It is outside the main story arc covered by the later novels which have much thicker, and complex plot and structure.

    Still, it is probably worth checking out even if you didn’t like the game that much.

  19. eloj says:

    Geralt isn’t _so_ different from The Nameless One. TNO was also a “set character”. He had a definite past, and a definite future. You got to play around a bit in the middle.

    I really like The Witcher, and will restart it with the Enhanced Edition. The story and role-playing elements, like the relationsships with Triss and Shani, the morals of helping the Order against The Squirrels or vice versa, really doesn’t get going until Ch2/3 and the first bit really is mostly a tutorial with much running around killing things.

    Is it a PST or BG2? No, but in these times it’s the best we’ve had in a loooong time.

  20. r4byde says:

    “I picture him getting up each morning and looking at his pasty withered mug in the mirror while thinking, “Yeah baby, I still got it”.”

    The image that paragraph drew in my mind was absolutely nasty. Mik Jaeger in a bath robe. *shviers* I think I’ll sleep with the light on tonight.

    Regarding Witcher, I’m just so damn tired of the Bondesian (Bondish, Bondlike, Bondo?) style hero who sleeps with anyone and everyone, especially when game developers assume that that’s the kind of character I want to play. Why can’t we have more games like Arcanum, that let you play any type of character you please?

    Fireball throwing gnome bandit? Check.
    Mad orcish librarian grenadier? Check.
    Amazingly strong battle-axe wielding halfling? Check. Weak-assed, rock tossing troll who is also a genius? Check. Incredibly ugly, stupid uncharismatic, pretty boy elf who ran away to join the circus? Check.

    The above are all characters I’ve played in Arcanum and I’m still playing after all these years! Damn it! Why couldn’t Trokia play-test their games better?

    EDIT:Bah! formatting!
    EDIT Again: A twenty!

  21. Danath says:

    Wow, this rant was terrible, his amnesia and the like actually make sense if youve read the books, as this is a continuation of them. Not to mention while you are given the character and his background, you are for the most part allowed to do nearly anything you want when it comes to story line decisions.

    In fact, sleeping with everyone has NEGATIVE consequences later in the game, and the reason everyone will sleep with you is that by being a Witcher, Geralt is IMPOTENT, meaning there is no risk involved for the women. The fact your amnesiac also has almost no bearing on the actual story, other than to allow the player some leeway in not knowing every character you meet (which you know almost every single one of in the books, including the king).

    I dont see your automatic hatred of having a character with a past… as opposed to having a character with NO past suddenly saving the world? Not to mention his past doesnt dictate ANYTHING you do, your free to act in any way you wish, and as far as tutorials go, the amnesiac story fits (again if youve read the books).

    Actually if you play the game on hard, combat becomes very difficult and interesting for those commenters who call it a click fest… this is not diablo, spam clicking will kill you even on easy. The game is ALL about how you build your character and what decisions you make, I fail to see how thats not a role PLAYING game, you are playing a role, and yes he has a past, that doesnt change anything, and sleeping around with lots of women HARMS the games only relationship you can really have (again, related to the books).

    I feel like im ranting now by how im repeating myself, this was just a terrible read from “At the onset you are handed an immutable character, created by the designers, who then give you almost no freedom to deviate from their vision.” As the whole game is designed for you to do as you see fit, even snub characters you supposidly “know”, kill or help as you see fit, theres nothing telling you what you SHOULD do at ALL in the game, thus theres no “vision” that doesnt allow you to “deviate”.

    I will admit its funny that you say he acronym “RPG” has mutated to encompass games in which you control a soulless empty shell of an avatar with no personality or history who levels up as the story goes on around him. Then immediatly proceed to bash this game, which does NOT do that, you dont even give it brownie points for making the attempt, bit hard to please there?

    Your free to not like the game, but almost every point you bring up either contradicts yourself, or simply doesnt make any sense.

  22. The Lone Duck says:

    Yeah, the whole “Sex! We’re EDGY!!” schtick that Witcher had kinda turned me off. And the fact that sexual encounters have no effect on your interactions seems to cheapen the idea. (Not that they’d be meaningful relationships, but still…) Edit: So he’s impotent. If I walked around a bar, letting women know I was impotent, I don’t think that’d improve my chances, even if I brought back 10 boar tusks. If you really wanted to make the sexual conquest part of the game, perhaps a more sensible reward would be to make the “encounter” repeatable after the initial wooing. I am interested in what the game mechanics were like. And gritty atmospheres are great. But if you have to read the books to enjoy the game, then they should either pack the books in the box, or rewrite the game so you can enjoy it on its own.
    Just an idea, but suppose you had a game like Oblivion. Aside from picking all the other starting attributes, you could pick your “personality” a trait that would determine whether you’re a stoic boyscout, sketchy lecher, gibbering idiot, or naive goofball, etc. And that choice would effect the dialogue options you had in the legitmate game, and perhaps even events and quests. It would be a step closer to actual role-playing. That’s just my thought. It would certainly require more writing.

  23. Nick C says:

    This is my first post ever. I absolutely love this game, and just bought “The Last Wish” book on Saturday and love that too.

    For me, the character Geralt didn’t really come across as a manslut. I certainly slept with every woman possible in the game because i’m a “completionist” in a sense. But the way it is handled, and with Geralt’s personality, I end up taking pity on the character. He’s not quite a man-whore in a traditional sense. He’s sterile and immune to disease. And since he’s alienated and despised by nearly everyone, getting his rocks off now and then is likely one of the very few pleasures his profession can enjoy. It’s played around with a bit in the story, but he really can’t have a functional tradition romance. The cards thing was kind of weird though. I didn’t dislike it or like it, but I didn’t look at them a 2nd time once I had gotten them.

    Roleplaying wise, the game reminds me a lot of a cross between Mass Effect and Planescape: Torment. Overall I loved this game. I’m holding out playing it again until the enhanced version comes out.

  24. Luke Maciak says:

    the reason everyone will sleep with you is that by being a Witcher, Geralt is IMPOTENT, meaning there is no risk involved for the women.

    Um… Wouldn’t being impotent actually prevent him from having sex with all these women?

    I think you meant to say he is sterile/infertile instead. ;)

  25. Dev Null says:

    The fact your amnesiac also has almost no bearing on the actual story

    I believe you will find that was exactly Shamus’ point.

  26. The Corsair says:

    I won’t repeat everything Danath just said, he summed it up pretty damn well. I will however add to it the following couple of points:

    I remember the last “immutable” hero I played who was completely without customisation. His name was Gordon Freeman. Last I checked, that story was kinda popular.

    While you cannot change the looks of Geralt or his backstory, you have quite a robust skill tree that suits multiple playstyles. I have played the game twice now; once focusing entirely on Signs (the games form of magic) and once focusing entirely on Swordplay. Both were viable choices.

    Geralt has a surprising number of choices when it comes to his influence with NPC’s and the world at large. If you are not careful with your choices, in fact, you can completely change the course of the game in one of three ways. I’m not going to say more here as they are pretty big spoilers.

    Having read the books, the Amnesia story actually fits perfectly. In the last tale of the series, Geralt finds himself overwhelmed by foes and the reader does not know what becomes of him. The book actually implies he “disappears” and it is up to the reader to decide just what that means.

    The first book by Andrzej Sapkowski has been translated to English already, titled “The Last Wish”. In fact, the opening cinematic is a FLAWLESS recreation of one of the scenes in The Last Wish, and I cannot stress just how perfectly they captured it. The second book is soon to be released in English (I last heard November).

    In closing: Shamus, please attempt to play the game a little more before you review it next time. Or you can call it a “First Impressions” post or something equally discerning. One last thing, if you are going to quote Mr Croshaw, please reference him.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Gildan Bladeborn:

    “I realize you are exaggerating about the whole “amnesia” schtick, but I feel obligated to point out he only mentions that to people who call out his name and expect him to remember them or something. If a particular character doesn't intimate that they knew you before, amnesia never comes up. I knew the whole “amnesia, oh noes!” thing is the oldest cliche in the book, but CD Projekt at least had a reason for using it: It let them use the various characters from the universe of The Witcher without requiring you to actually recognize them. By putting Geralt in the dark they sidestepped the possible scenario where he knows whats going on but you the player is left scratching your head. (Odds are good most people outside of Poland had never heard of the novels the game was based on.)”

    Knights of the old republic 2 had you recognize characters,yet it didnt ruin the imersion.The key parts got explained through dialog.

    Deus ex has you knowing many characters,yet you can still role play it.And it gives you a fixed role at the begining too.

    Also,summoner and both KotOR games have you start as a defined character,although KotOR one has the blank mind twist,so you are loose there.

    I wouldnt call nameless one a fixed character though.Sure he has loads of past,but considering his condition,he went all over the spectrum,being all types of individuals.

    @RandomGamer

    None of the new RPGs appeal to me,but classics like BG 1 and 2,planescape torment,NWN 1(dont bother with the original though,go straight towards the expansions),fallout 1 and 2 are all story driven role playing fames not unlike KotOR.Any of those you missed,you definitelly play.

  28. Vadimirin says:

    The fact that he’s amnesiac is merely a minor ploy to give the player an option of learning more about the backstory of the character. The Witcher is based on a series of books written somewhere in the former soviet block, I forget where exactly, and probably about 80% of the NPCs you run into are from said books. It may even be that the Amnesia was at the end of one of the books.

    But I admit, they could have done away with it in the US by changing some of the dialogue. But for the readers of the original Witcher books probably appreciated it more than those of us who just play the game. This is the problem with converting strait from book to video game without any movies in between, especially with books that were originally in a different language.

    EDIT: It seems both the above commenters knew more about it than I did, but my point bears repeating.

  29. Sharpie says:

    Pretty sure you are confusing “role playing” with “playing a role”. In all “blank slate” games, you play your character the way you want, lovely, but it effects jack in-game (other then the obligatory “help the farmer” or “murder the farmer” duality of good-evil games). There is no personality there, no voice (figuratively).

    At least with a pre-defined personality, it makes an impression in the world, and in a more realistic manner. It you can play that role, then it makes it more satisfying (to me). The immersion is much greater.

    I enjoyed the game for the most part, but got bored half-way through. And the sexy stuff was more comic then exciting.

  30. Cuthalion says:

    Well, I don’t know whether or not the game’s fun, but I won’t be buying it. The whole sex cards/scenes are a deal-breaker for me. Yes, I know that part’s optional, but I really don’t want to support it with my money. I do wish developers wouldn’t put that stuff in games. (I’m not saying it should be illegal, just that they shouldn’t do it.)

    The whole “adult” label used to defend these things is an insult to those of us who actually grew up. Being an adult means more than just being allowed to watch other (sometimes fake) people have sex.

    EDIT:
    I wonder if this is just the latest fad. “Hey, look, Mass Effect had sex and made money! Innovation!”

  31. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Cuthalion

    Its actually an implementation thing.Well implemented sex scene can actually improve the experience,while badly implemented one will ruin it.The best example for this is fahrenheit(indigo prophecy),since it has both.The scene with your (not really)ex girlfriend is an excelent finishing touch of a sequence of events that led to you making up with her.It makes you feel the charactes are real,even though the scene if taken just by itself is a ridiculous minigame.The second scene near the end of the game is simply…well,ridiculous,since it is a stand alone thing not connected with the rest of the game,so you feel something is missing,thus it breaks the game(which,unfortunatelly got broken long before that).

    The developers need to learn how to implement these scenes as they are a dangerous tool and need a lot of thought about them.

  32. Robyrt says:

    Thanks Shamus – I also have difficulty enjoying games where I’m role playing someone I would hate in real life. (I gave up on Grand Theft Auto about the time people start praising you as a cold-blooded killer, even though you take the “save the farmer” over “kill the farmer” option every time.)

  33. Luke Maciak says:

    The whole sex cards/scenes are a deal-breaker for me. Yes, I know that part's optional, but I really don't want to support it with my money. I do wish developers wouldn't put that stuff in games. (I'm not saying it should be illegal, just that they shouldn't do it.)

    Why shouldn’t they do it? I mean it is your prerogative not to buy the game, but why condemn it? Someone else may enjoy this aspect of the game.

    I respect the fact that you don’t like the gratuitous sex, and to tell you the truth it doesn’t do anything for me either. But I’m not going to tell anyone they should not include certain plot elements or themes in video games just because I personally don’t like them.

    Also, I don’t think Witcher is jumping on the bandwagon of Mass Effect. I believe it was released before Mass Effect – or at least before the sex thing hit the news.

  34. modus0 says:

    @ Danath and the others who say “if you read the books.”

    Considering that apparently only one book has been translated into English, it’s unlikely that Shamus (or the majority of the American players of the game) would have had the chance, let alone desire to do so. So claiming that “it all makes sense because of the books” is pointless when one can’t read the books.

    It’s like expecting someone to have read every Star Wars book ever written before playing a Star Wars game. One *shouldn’t* have to do anything other than play the game to understand what goes on in the game.

  35. Sharpie says:

    @Cuthalion: Witcher was actually released before Mass Effect.

    @modus0: You don’t have to read the books to understand whats happening, as it is all revealed in game. The game actually talks about stuff that happened in the books. Actually, the amnesia thing is a result of an event in the books, and it works quite well, for a cliche.

  36. Cuthalion says:

    Witcher was actually released before Mass Effect.

    Well, there goes that idea then. :P

    Why shouldn't they do it? I mean it is your prerogative not to buy the game, but why condemn it? Someone else may enjoy this aspect of the game. … I'm not going to tell anyone they should not include certain plot elements or themes in video games just because I personally don't like them.

    (emphases mine)

    Because life is more than personal preferences, as is right and wrong. But to explain why I say what I do and think this way, I’d have to go into a whole worldview thing that could devolve into an argument, and I’m sure Shamus would not appreciate that, seeing as he avoids such subject matter in his posts for that reason. Though it wouldn’t be terribly off-topic.

  37. Jeff says:

    It amuses me when someone defends a game with “If you read the books…” as it pretty much implies the game itself can’t stand up on it’s own.

    That said, I just wanted to comment the A Bard’s Tale titular character amused me very much.

    Also, yes, “RPG” has been diluted, as the original “RPG” is of course from table-top, and you can indeed be whoever you want to be. All other claims to the label are inferior.

    But I'm not going to tell anyone they should not include certain plot elements or themes in video games just because I personally don't like them.
    I think that at least Shamus has every right to do this here, seeing as how this is his blog, not a professional article. He’s free to try and shape the world to his whim, and he answers to no sponsors or boss (other than his wife).

  38. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Cuthalion:

    “Because life is more than personal preferences, as is right and wrong.”

    No,its not.You have nothing against violence in games,yet you have against sex just because thats your own personal preference,not because violence is right and sex is wrong(which always strikes me as the dumbest view cenzorship forces on people.If I didnt know better,Id think that people procreate by stabbing each other)

  39. R4byde says:

    Just an idea, but suppose you had a game like Oblivion. Aside from picking all the other starting attributes, you could pick your “personality” a trait that would determine whether you're a stoic boyscout, sketchy lecher, gibbering idiot, or naive goofball, etc. And that choice would effect the dialogue options you had in the legitmate game, and perhaps even events and quests. It would be a step closer to actual role-playing. That's just my thought. It would certainly require more writing.

    Not to be a broken record but: Arcanum! It has character histories you can choose when you start the game that change your stats, starting equipment and reputation. Not to mention that intelligence and charisma actually affect dialog in a VERY meaningful way.

    Is it just me, or did all three of the greatest western rpgs -Dare I say ever?- come from the minds of those guys that left Interplay to start Troika? What the heck happened to Cain anyway?

  40. Steven B. says:

    I’ll just echo some of the other people, and talk about the book. There’s only one out in English, called “The Last Wish”, and it’s much much better than the game. I don’t know how much of a reader you are, but I really enjoyed it, and it made me appreciate the game more, as horribly flawed as it is.

    I got about 1/2 way through the game and stopped playing, and now with the enhanced edition so close I’ll just wait and start it from the beginning with that.

    Anyway, check the book out if you like.

  41. Fosse says:

    I’m looking forward to the Witcher articles. I don’t mind a break from WoW (which I have never played), and this might be the first time I’ve read your analysis for a game I’ve already finished and have my own opinions on.

    I like the subtle distinction between “RPG” and “role-playing game” for the use in these pages.

    I don’t mind that we play a pre-defined character for this game, since CD Projeckt never claimed we’d be doing anything else. It wasn’t sold to us as a game where we get to make Geralt whomever we wish him to be, but instead it was ballyhooed as a game in which we would have to make choices for Geralt that have a real impact on the events in the game.

    Assuming a good RPG system, having some games give us a canned personality in an interesting story is preferable to having ALL games give us blank slates in an unresponsive setting, wherein we can only pretend the PC has a personality.

    I’d have preferred that Geralt’s amnesia had simply been: “I don’t know where I’ve been since the books ended with my disappearance five years ago, that’s some kind of mystery. On the other hand, I certainly remember my old friends and I will now shoehorn their name and a brief synopsis of our relationship into the conversation the first time I meet them.”
    It wouldn’t have even bothered me that I started in that context as a “Level 1” witcher. I’ll accept that as a gameplay convention and move on.

    On the whole, I loved this game. I can’t wait to replay it with the Enhanced Edition. And I look forward to your thoughts, Shamus.

  42. Chris Arndt says:

    because violence is right and sex is wrong(which always strikes me as the dumbest view cenzorship forces on people.If I didnt know better,Id think that people procreate by stabbing each other)

    Actually it is about what is easy or least healthy for a child to replicate.

    or somesuch

  43. Andre says:

    Interesting review. I’ve heard lots of good (but not great) things about The Witcher, but never anything specific. Honestly, although the main character’s personality seems extremely cliche, I’m intrigued. I may check this game out to see just how stale the character gets.

  44. I’m surprised (or maybe not) that no one has mentioned how incredibly SEXIST The Witcher is!

    Ugh. Yet another game with an unsympathetic male protagonist who is surrounded by a bunch of helpless women. Just what the world needs.

    Not.

  45. Danath says:

    I didnt read the books till after I played a bit of the witcher actually, it took me about 5 minutes to check it out.

    You are right, I meant STERILE, not impotent, my mistake there, but it doesnt change the core of what I said. YOU get to decide how the story goes through your actions, the amnesiac beginning allows you to NOT have to play to whatever his character may have been before this game started, which allows you freedom in your decisions. Many characters who KNOW who you are are dissapointed you dont know them, also Geralt himself is quite famous… many characters have heard of his NAME, but do not know much about him (such as the bard in the very first town).

    In fact, thanks to the amnesiac subplot, it means you do not need to know all the literature for the characters, and it helps explain it to you as you go. If you did not like the games story (which ill admit, is a bit cliche), or the characters, that is fine, everyone has their own opinion, but I disagree with Shamus’s wholehearted condemnation of the character because he chose to play a manslut through chapter one, treating the game like a collectable game… ala pokemon.

    The main draw in the game is how your decisions have an effect on the world… and unlike games like KoTR, there is VERY rarely a good/evil decision at all in the game, it all depends on your moral compass, and even being good all the time wont be the right thing to do. I wont include spoilers, but there was alot of things you could harp about on this game ill admit, I enjoyed it, it fit my play style well, but harping on the main character in such a rant, I might as well go and watch Fox News for unbiased reporting, its about the same level as quality.

    TLDR version: I dont care if you didnt like the game, or even didnt like the main character, but your comments on WHY you didnt like him, without any acknowledgement other than the fact hes “not handsome, not wealthy, and is a manslut”, with many sentences and paragraphs interspersed saying those 3 things.

    OH yes one more thing.. you can opt for money or information instead, the sex is usually an extra option, that funny enough rewards you in a small way… and ultimately DOES have an effect on the games finale. Series of posts or not, your review should encompass more than ACT ONE.

    Also, the very first female character is funnily enough not helpless, go figure. But yes, the game is sexist, so is the time period its placed in, which sort of justifies it for those of you who thought womens had equal rights back in medieval time period stories, maybe you read too many dragonlance novels.

  46. I knew that The Witcher was based on some Polish books before I started playing it. The amnesia thing was a convient story telling tool; Geralt knew about as much about his back story as I did at the beginning. And I accept that he’s a predefined person. I mean, if I play a LotR game, I would expect Aragorn to be predefined too. While it doesn’t start until Act III, there is a sub theme of self rediscovery in The Witcher. You start to define THIS Geralt, as opposed to the old Geralt.

    I accepted Geralt as he is. Even how he is towards women. As I recall, one of the guys in the prolog even mentions how women are Geralt’s weakness.

    Overall, I enjoyed The Witcher. The game (and Geralt) is much deeper than it first seems.

  47. GM West says:

    I was laughing hard at your thoughts on this game, Shamus. Never played it (and I doubt I will) but I feel like I lived a little part of it through your eyes.

    Amazing to me that people still refuse to acknowledge that you yourself have said that this is not a ‘review’ of the game. That word certainly keeps cropping in some of the comments.

    Anyway, nice work. As usual.

  48. Juha says:

    Pff, passing this game because it has a few sex scenes is pretty stupid, since it comes pretty damn close to games like Fallout, Planescape: Torment or Arcanum in how good it is. Doh, It’s almost better than PST.

    I don’t even think there is an occasion where you HAVE to sleep with someone, and most of the time you have to go looking for girls to get laid with.

    The amnesia you can mostly just ignore, since after chapter one it rarely even gets mentioned.

    The Witcher is pretty much the best RPG in like 8 years. It’s not about fight or sex even if it has both of them, it’s about difficult moral questions. The story is just great and there’s no real good or evil in it, only shades of gray.

    All your points are a bit silly, and it looks like you haven’t even played past chapter one.

  49. The Lone Duck says:

    To people new here, this is not Shamus’ review! He’ll probably have at least two or more articles about this game. See the archives for similar articles on games.
    Anyway, as a man, sexism in general does not stand out to me. I would hope there are at least some positive female characters. I avoided the game because of the nudity/cursing/etc. I’m not throwing my values on other people, I just don’t like playing games like that in a place where other people may be offended (family, friends, etc.). I have only seen one game handle sex in a grown up way. That was Xenogears for the Playstation 1. There was a romantic scene between the two main characters, fade out, then it showed the guy getting out of bed. No one needed to show naughty bits, or have humorous lines. That’s well and good if that’s what you want a la Fable. But if you want me to treat sex in games like a serious subject, do it tastefully.

  50. Ryan Speck says:

    You can’t blame a game that’s based on a series of books for sticking you with the character those books are based on.

    It’s kind of like you’re complaining that the James Bond RPG is forcing you to play this womanizing asshole who drinks a lot and (depending on the era) spouts off inane one-liners while using ludicrous gadgets to fight or save women named after parts of their own anatomy.

  51. Shamus says:

    The corsair: Do not ever, ever, have the nerve to tell me how to review games. I will call a game crap from the opening credits. I might reserve judgment until eight weeks after I beat it.

    Geralt is a nasty and alienating manwhore, and I hate him. Full stop. Playing for twelve more peasant-screwing hours isn’t going to make me like the filthy geezer.

    I didn’t “quote” Croshaw anywhere in here. There is indeed some overlap in our points, but you should, you know, expect that.

  52. Shamus says:

    Man, the fanboys really do seem to be more thin skinned lately.

    I’ll help you guys out by giving away what I’ll say about this series later:

    I am going to beat the hell out of this ugly chore of a game. If you’re going to follow me through the whole series telling me what an idiot I am for not liking your darling then just go back and play the game some more instead of reading my site.

    Telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about when the review is a bunch of subjective opinions is the quickest way to make me dismiss you as a jabbering fanboy.

    And no, I’m not running out and reading the BOOK.

  53. Gahaz says:

    Tee hee, You seem to have touched on a sore one here Big S (can i call you Big S?). I think a lot of folks like to jump to this games defense because there has been a lack of “Big” name RPGs for the PC that aren’t ports.

    Seeing that most people’s points stem from very few points and mostly consist of “You gotta play more!” dribble don’t let em phase ya. I also thought this clicker of a game was lacking oomph. Most of my gripes came from game mechanics more than story or presentation.

    One last thing. HAHA for the people wanting you to read the book. “I really don’t like this game or story that much. Man, I want to read hundreds of pages of information on it!”

  54. Scalawag says:

    Leslee Beldotti:
    “I'm surprised (or maybe not) that no one has mentioned how incredibly SEXIST The Witcher is!”

    That’s cause it was just sexist back in medieval times. Geralt’s keeping it real. Killing the monsters that plagued medieval times. Narrowly avoiding being hanged or burnt at the stake. Collecting the sexual conquest trading cards. I was just reading about how Edward II was buried with his complete set.

  55. Zukhramm says:

    For soem reason, I allways seem to read “Meet Geralt” as “Metal Gear”, happens ever time I see the title.

  56. Danath says:

    I dont jump to this games defense, theres a thousand things wrong with it, I just find his manwhore rant excessive and not representative of the character one bit, as the only way for your character to BE a manwhore is to actively play as one.

    And I never claimed historical accuracy, but the time period IS medieval, and thus the tone is somewhat justified, I dont agree with it, but then again I never slept with every woman either.

    I dont expect the review to be good, im pointing out how misinformed the character bashing is, if the game gets a beat down, so be it, I loved Yahtzee’s review of it for instance. :P

    If you hate the character so be it… but I feel you mentioned the wrong reasons for it.

  57. qrter says:

    I think a lot of folks like to jump to this games defense because there has been a lack of “Big” name RPGs for the PC that aren't ports.

    Nah, it’s just that a lot of people genuinely like the game and Shamus didn’t and he has started blogging about it and then there’s a comments section.. :)

    The game sent me towards the books, well the one book in English at the moment (there’s a second translation coming in september – the first novel, “Blood of Elves”) and I enjoyed it very much.

    Just to be clear, I agree with a previous poster that a game based on another medium should be able to stand on its own two legs. It reminds me of Halo fanboys pointing towards the Halo novels when someone says the games have the depth of an ashtray. That’s just saying Halo is a better book than a game.

    I think if you dislike Geralt like Shamus does, you’ll have an impossible time playing the game (as Shamus has!), eventhough ‘gameplay-technically’ you do get a lot of choice to build him up as you like as a player.

    Good luck with your upcoming Witcher-posts, Shamus.. ;)

  58. Gahaz says:

    “It reminds me of Halo fanboys pointing towards the Halo novels when someone says the games have the depth of an ashtray. That's just saying Halo is a better book than a game.”

    Just would like to say, it is. ;)

  59. Veloxyll says:

    The amnesia made no sense to me either. It was just like “Hi, you have amnesia”. It never mattered in the game, unlike say…KOTOR or Planescape: Torment. Considering it’s introduced at teh start of the game it could at least MEAN something. Aside from that your character is level 1 of course.

    Re: feeling line a lecherous man-whore instead of merely playing one.
    On the up side, It’s very immersive, you dont just feel like you’re PLAYING the character, you feel like you ARE the character (personally I found the ridiculous frequency of which women are willing to cast aside their clothes hillarious).

  60. Sharpie says:

    At the risk of sounding like a “fanboy” (I am not, I never even finished the damn game. This is more “devils advocate”), a lot of the criticism in this first part seems to be focused on:

    1) The ugly-ass-ness of Geralt.
    2) The promescuity of Geralt.
    3) The amnesia cliche.

    Part 1 is pretty much irrelevant, though fun to point out, because its not often you see such a catchers-mitt for a character. Still, better then obligatory 20s-30s, brown-hair, caucasian male with a fondness for firearms.

    Part 2 is a legitimate point, though it is not really that key to the story (only for a few girls). Though, to the games credit, they blend it in to the story enough that it doesn’t feel like sex for sex sake. But when you can randomly give a flower to a peasant and she drops her drawers, its probably time to pull it back.

    Part 3 is boring, sure, but again, it fits the story.

    Naturally there will be more, better points against the game as the series continues. Probably things I never realized annoyed me so much. But the game did one thing right: it told a decent story that didn’t seem as disjointed as Baldurs Gate and the like. Probably why I forgave 2 and 3 so readily.

  61. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Juha

    How can a game thats not great from the very begining but gets better later be better than a game thats peaking from its very start till the end?

    @Juha & Danath

    The purpose of the begining of the game is to pull you in.If the game begins badly,people are hardly going to continue playing no matter what the ending is like.If fahrenheit was reversed,with a dumb begining but an awesome ending,Id break the CD in million little pieces after just 5 minutes,and never bother with the rest.So what if shamus wrote a review of just the start of the game?It is very important for that start to be good in order for you to play the rest.

    @Danath

    Funny how you like Yahtzees review,which is very similar to Shamus’ one,and Yathzee did admit he never played it past the first chapter,yet you are attacking shamus for doing the same.Maybe if shamus was to scream “Its a mumorpuger!” int o a microphone….:)

    Oh,and there arent right and wrong reasons for liking/hating something.Tastes are subjective things,so whether you like something or not,the reason for doing it is right for you,no matter what other people feel about it.

  62. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Sharpie:

    “Part 1 is pretty much irrelevant, though fun to point out, because its not often you see such a catchers-mitt for a character. Still, better then obligatory 20s-30s, brown-hair, caucasian male with a fondness for firearms.”

    Actually,it is very important.At least for me.Its not important for a game like doom or serious sam,but for a game that needs to make you identify with a character,it is very important.

    If Im playing a charismatic leader,it sure would break the immersion for me if that guy looked like a some filthy bum.If Im playing an ugly orc,having a lingerie model with huge chest painted green with added tusks would again break the immersion for me.This is why in most RPGs I tend to play males when having low charisma and females when having high charisma.(I dont know what is it with artists,but usually female models are by far better than male models)

  63. Mistwraithe says:

    It is incredibly amusing when people/censors say that games with sexual content should be banned or rated R18 or AO, while games with extreme violence are allowed and given lower ratings.

    Any uninformed observer (eg an alien?) would quickly come to the conclusion that slicing parts off people bodies, shooting them with a variety of high calibre weapons and using cars to crush and maim people are all normal and common place parts of life in the western world. It would be safe to assume that most people participated in these actions in real life on a regular basis.

    Alien observers would likewise assume that nudity and sexual acts were regarded as abhorrent to the vast majority of people and most likely illegal, certainly something that very few people would have the ill fortune of experiencing in real life.

    Now try to tell me that the current game and movie censorship rules aren’t screwed up beyond redemption.

    P.S. Go Shamus! Um, I think?! So long as you aren’t in the middle of a metamorphis into Yatzee V2… one Yatzee is enough for this world IMO ;-)

  64. Captain Kail says:

    So I guess I’m the only person who found Geralt attractive?

    …Yes, I admit it.

    Maybe he just grew on me after a while, or maybe the fact that every other NPC in the game is absolutely HIDEOUS just made me grow to appreciate him all the more.

    But I thought he looked especially nice in the finale cutscene. Just sayin’.

  65. Danath says:

    I didnt harp on Shamus for not playing past first one, I harped on how he characterized Geralt using only the first chapter, Yahtzee didnt devote this length of an article towards hating on the character.

    This article was more of a hateful rant, and if it had been one or two paragraphs in a review it wouldnt have mattered as opposed to how he gets an entire post all to himself based on Act One.

    I have myself said theres lots of reasons not to like the game, I dont care if it gets torn up, my opposition is with this description of the character, if Chapter 1 didnt pull you in, tear it apart, thats fine, I know lots who didnt like it, doesnt change anything about my points on this rant.

  66. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Mistwraithe

    The most interesting thing I found about censorship is that a murder without blood is rated lower then the one with it.So a brutal electricution is safer for kids to watch then a painless head shot.

    @Danath

    Yet you are attacking shamus for just one in the series of articles he said he will make,go figure.

  67. Danath says:

    so what? I disagree with his position on this article and I gave my reasons why, ive stated myself theres plenty of problems with the game… harping on the character when your barely out of “im an amnesiac” chapter of the story is bad. Simple.

    If he smacks on Geralt after playing the game, well, then thats an informed opinion and totally fine, if he hates the game, thats also fine, I dont plan to jump on him for those articles, I just chose this one because out of all the flaws this game DOES have (I couldnt beat it till it got patched several times cause I got too frustrated), Geralt either isnt one, or is a VERY minor one, and didnt warrant an ENTIRE article to make so very few points of him.

  68. Shamus says:

    Time for another culling. I have no time for idiots who make VIDEOGAME REVIEWS personal.

    I’ve said in the past but it bears repeating: I’m not here to build a massive audience. I’d rather have three readers who can chat about these games like adults than a hundred thousand jabbering fanboys. This is one of the goals of my site, one of its strengths, and I’ll gladly drive people off rather than see my comments turn into a pit fight in the name of being “popular”.

    Every once in a while my traffic goes up and I have to go around deleting comments to cull the idiots and children.

    Think before you post.

    (EDIT: Just to be clear, this comment is in response to other comments which have been deleted. Just in case this seems out-of-place.)

  69. Joel D says:

    Hurray, back to game reviews!

  70. Kevin says:

    It sounds kind of boring. Is sex the only objective? Is it like a Japanese dating sim set in medieval Europe?

  71. Shamus says:

    Danath: Actually, I think an entire article on the dull greaseball protagonist is more than warranted. I even said in the article: If this character works for you, then great. But if you hate him then it sort of ruins the game, since you have to spend 80+ hours looking at the back of his lice-infested head.

  72. Shamus says:

    Kevin: No, the sex thing just pops up (sometimes unexpectedly) as you proceed through the game. You can skip it, but having every fetching woman in the game offer herself to you for getting her cat out of a tree does lower the maturity level of the experience for me. But as others have said, you can say no and get on with your day.

  73. Kevin says:

    Ah, so it’s more like “Captain Kirk plays Everquest.”

    On an unrelated note, Champions Online (an MMORPG) is supposedly including Dependent Non Player Characters. People you know and have relationships with that get caught up in the action and kidnapped or threatened by villains. (You also have the option of having a secret identity.) I am REALLY looking forward to seeing how this one is going to shape up.

  74. folo4 says:

    Question for Shamus Young.

    Did you get the enhanced edition of the game?

  75. Fosse says:

    The enhanced edition hasn’t come out yet. It’s due in September, I think.

  76. Cineris says:

    Responding to a couple of things:

    1. I remember watching Zero Punctuation about this game and thinking about how juvenile it seemed from his review. The cards are definitely over the top. On the other hand, I learned something interesting from the comments — If Geralt is infertile, that’s a marginally plausible reason for why these women would be a little forward with him. I’d figure this medieval world has no birth control, so that’s kind of a unique opportunity.

    2. As far as sexism goes, why is that relevant in a game that’s clearly not intended to resemble reality? Most games don’t bother touching on this subject, because they’re afraid of offending the PC crowd, but it’s actually kind of refreshing to hear about a game that’s not afraid to depict a fantasy world that’s not modern day sensibilities and values dressed up in chainmail.

    3. As far as violence and sexuality goes — I haven’t played The Witcher, but it doesn’t strike me as a gorefest that revels in sadistic practices. In fact, I think there’s very few games you can really say that about. Most games are about using violence to defeat evil. It’s not exactly rocket science why this is seen as an acceptable message to expose teenage males to, and why depictions of casual sexuality might not be seen as appropriate for teenagers in general.

    Personally I think any observing aliens would be confused about why some Earthlings could be so dense as to think that a star-faring race wouldn’t understand that violence can be necessary and that mores that try to encourage healthy family formation are not unreasonable (regardless of opinions on specific circumstances or side-effects). And either way, if you have a kid you can always buy NC-17 movies or AO games for them if you think they are mature enough to handle it. I do think it’s a bit disappointing that sexuality is more harshly viewed in games than other media, but I also think it’s almost impossible to handle in games without being absurd.

  77. Otters34 says:

    Never played it myself, but one thing I would like to mention is that in the Olden Tymes, people wore VERY bright clothes, not dung-cloth or tanned metal.It’s irritating and makes for one massively boring time if you forget this, and saying that it’s gritty makes little sense when all the peasant’s have loads of cash, enough and to spare for a house with more than two or three rooms.Also, bathing was highly regarded, not rare, as streams had come to pass at that time.

    Just in case you, you know, didn’t know all that.(And what’s with every monster nowadays being bizzarely easy? even the ones ten times your size?)

  78. Alrenous says:

    Extra-spicy Shamus is hilarious.

    Revel in it, Shamus, all too soon you’re going to go back to normal. It’s way better than trying to apologize for who you are.

  79. Avilan the Grey says:

    I am a fickle player, at times. I bought the game but has yet only played the tutorial. I will play it again, but not until I have grown bored with everything Spore.

    Shamus: I don’t have an issue with your opinions, your post? article? rant? is not a moronic heap of crap (which would on a bad day prompt me to argue points with you, or on a good day just prompt me to not continue reading). It is a valid point of view. From the little I played and the reviews I have read I am not prepared to agree with you, but so what? Besides you have played further than I have.

    Censorship / Sex in games / Sex in media / Sex in real life:
    Since I cannot fathom the idea that sex between consenting adults is, or would be, bad in any shape way or form it always boggles my mind when someone tries to argue that it somehow “morally” wrong or “shouldn’t be there”. Sex is fun.
    Violence is not.
    Now, that said, there is rating systems, and although stores are not in a position to stop you from bying a game or a movie for your kid that is younger than the rating on the box, it is hardly their fault, nor the fault of the makers of said game / movie if your 11 year old gets to play the game. (I don’t have the box here, but I *think* the rating for Witcher is 15 . Age, that is).
    And you can always check out the rating system yourself to see if the game is for you. Even if you are an adult.

    Now for the game itself: I generally prefer non-fixed characters, but as with TNO, this guy is flexible enough in his setup that it seems to be interesting enough anyway. Besides, NWN2 left me with a rather empty feeling, despite the immense selection of character(s) and skills. I rather have a well-written game than a game with 10000 possible combinations (orc warlock / bard?).

    My 2 euro cents.

  80. MaxEd says:

    I liked Witcher despite my hatred for real-time combat. It’s quite true to the book it is based on, and I applaud developers for not allowing player to alter book’s story, but rather starting a NEW story, after the end of last book.

    Alas, the beautiful and fun language of book is lost in the game. In english version all characters speak like in other Hight Fantasy worlds. But Witcher’s world is NOT Hight Fantasy. And it’s certainly noy black & white, but rather full of shades of gray (somewhat scewed to the black end of scale, I think).

    While Geralt in book never was sex machine he is in game, this alteration didn’t bother me.

  81. IronCastKnight says:

    I agree with MaxEd, all the characters in the Witcher do speak like characters from every other high fantasy world. Why, I remember when, in The Lord of the Rings, Boromir turned to Gandalf and declared, with a strong and ringing voice, “YOUR MOTHER SUCKS DWARF COCK.”

    Aaaaactually, I think I’d prefer The Witcher have a few more thees, thous, thines, and prithees thrown about, or at least a few less random profanities. There is a difference between being mature and gritty, and saying “fuck” a lot.

    Who’s a man and a half, packin’ one hell of a staff?
    Geralt!
    Who’s a man with a plan to find some bitches and put down the slam?
    Geralt!
    Who’s the man
    SHUT YO MOUTH
    Shit ho’, I’m just talking ’bout Geralt
    Oh, dat’s coo then, he’s stopping by later on. Gonna get me some greasy old albino action, mmmhmm

    Still, silly dialog, Pimpmaster Geralt, titty cards, and every puddle, water barrel, and big glasses spawning Drowners from it like there was a fire sale on executions by water, I rather liked The Witcher. I see, understand, and agree with pretty much every complaint I’ve seen levied against it, but I still like it.

  82. Conlaen says:

    Friends of mine really kept pushing me to play this as well. When I first looked at it over their shoulders, I could not really be impressed and yes, the card collecting seemed very juvenile.

    On top of that they told me that the game was originally made in a diffirent language (Polish I assume) and that the English version got cut quite a bit in dialogue, leading to very strange situations where characters assumed to have discussed something with you, but it just never happened cause that bit of dialogue had been cut. And if not that, then there was just other things lost in translation. Needless to say I had no intention to play this game.

    But lately my friends were telling me that they are working on a new version, with all the dialogue put back in, fixed bugs and generally would lmake the game better.

    And then on a particularly bored night I downloaded the demo. And I enjoyed it! The playstyle seems nice, the setting seems nice. It interested me.

    So now I’m gonna wait arround till they complete this ‘Enhanced version’ which is said will be released september 2008. Cause sure the game caught my interest, but I am not going to play it the way it is now, with incomplete conversations, bad translations and abysmal load times.

  83. NobleBear says:

    Extra spicy Shamus is fun. It’s like visiting Roybertito’s but with less gluttony and scalding cheese.

    Openly mocking bad media is a great way to excise frustrations and I look forward to watching Shamus beat on this like a red-headed step-child.

    That said, I enjoy the analysis. I like finding out and discussing why things work or don’t. A columnist hacking out 500 words worth of “it rocks” or “it sucks” is masturbating on a keyboard and does not challenge, inform or even entertain me; at the risk of seeming a brownose, Shamus and Yahtzee do all of the above. If ever their opinions overlap, I count it as a coincidence of two smart guys who followed a rational process, informed by experience, to reach the same conclusion.

    As for the game: I have yet to play Witcher and after reading many of the comments here, I’m disinclined to. I don’t want to do homework for the game to make sense or have depth, and if the character can’t be interesting, I want the situation to be; something I’ll find out weather it is or not in future posts.

  84. Scourge says:

    Choices?
    What choices?

    Let the witch burn or sleep with her and then save her? Yeah, just a great choice, really.
    Why can’t I not sleep with her and decide to save her nevertheless?

    Bah.

    And zeropunctation pretty much summed up all bad things about the game, there is not much to add.

    And Shamus, go! Keep stating your opinions, don’t let them get you down. :)

    On a sidenote, I never really watched geralt as a character I play but more of a nuisance I’m stuck with and at which I ahve to look.

  85. Divra says:

    While this discussion has done nothing to warm me up towards the “Witcher” game, I am feeling more and more inclined to take a look at the books.

    Since I got my grubby little hands on Lukyanenko’s “Night Watch” series my opinion of east European speculative fiction has gone through the roof, so…

    If I like the book, I may give the game a chance.

    And Shamus: Keep fighting the good fight. Your blog is a beacon in the dark of the gaming discussions on the internet.

  86. Eric says:

    This game seems like the rpg’s halo. The fanboy’s are just like the halo fanboy’s. The books maybe awesome, but this game gives me no interest into finding a copy, let alone reading it. Also, all the people disagreeing with the review must not have read it properly. It seemed to me that shamus made it quite perfectly clear that this was a first impressions look at the game, starting with the main character. Look at his other posts on Video Games, they all start with a first look at the character and the first chapter.

  87. Mistwraithe says:

    Daemian Lucifer

    The most interesting thing I found about censorship is that a murder without blood is rated lower then the one with it.So a brutal electricution is safer for kids to watch then a painless head shot.

    Indeed! By that logic surely full on sex should be fine for M rated games and movies so long as no semen or other sexual fluids are shown! ;-)

    Cineris, I agree that there is a case for censorship of sexual situations (although there is also a counterargument – one hard to prove theory is that many teenagers/adults today are so obsessed with sex and pornography because we no longer grow up communally in single room huts or caves where seeing/hearing adults engaged in sex was presumably rather common!).

    It’s just that sex tends to garner higher ratings and more public outrage (well in the US anyway – see Hot Coffee etc) whereas brutal and quite explicit violence can get away with amazingly low censorship ratings. Seems rather backwards.

    Note: I’m not suggesting violence should be banned from games… I’m not actually fussed personally, though that may change as my toddlers grow up. But I certainly wouldn’t argue if it was better rated and developers had to moderate it more if they wanted to aim for lower censorship ratings.

  88. NobleBear says:

    I’ve observed how we relate to violence is different and happens sooner than how we relate to sex. For example, kids have to be told not to hit and throw things years before they have to be told to consider abstinence or wear a condom.

    I also believe that the dynamics and consequences of sexual interactions are more nuanced and sophisticated by comparison. This is why I’m not as bothered by the apparent disproportionate displays of violence compared to sex.

  89. Shamus says:

    In some cultures breasts are scandalous. Other places they’re just a little racy. In other places they’re not considered “nudity” at all. It’s a cultural thing, based mostly on the fact that what you’re used to is what seems reasonable. We’re all calibrated by our environment.

    This leads to the attitude that anyone who is less permissive is a puritan and anyone more permissive is a hedonist. (Just like everyone driving slower is an idiot and everyone driving faster is a maniac.)

  90. Shamus says:

    One thing I should have asked, is how many fans of the game are women? Leslee made it clear above that she wants nothing to do with it, and I don’t blame her. Not being able to play as a female makes the game less appealing for women, (and, heh, for some guys who roll female characters) but ONLY being able to play as an obviously sexist man has gotta be a deal-breaker for many.

  91. Zaxares says:

    I’m actually playing the Witcher right now (well, not RIGHT now, but you know what I mean. :P). Speaking for myself, I’m actually enjoying the game immensely, and not because of the sex-related bits either (which are basically just “want to come to bed with me?” scenes before it’s fade to black). Rather, I’m enjoying the game so much because it’s such a morally GREY game. There are no shining champions of good in the world of the Witcher; there are only the Evil and Less Evil. There is no great struggle between Good and Evil, or even Law and Chaos. It’s a world filled with racism, sexism, religious intolerance, corruption, greed and just about any vice you can think of.

    And here you have this character with whom to decide how you’re going to act in this amoral world. Will you strive to be a noble defender of the people, as I’m trying to do? To become a champion of good in this otherwise dark and savage land? Or will you just be out for simple survival? Making enough money to buy the things you need, pay for companionship, or just drink yourself into a stupor each night?

    The amnesia role may be cliched, but in the Witcher, it actually acts as quite a powerful foil to your character’s actions. Do you try to act as ‘yourself’ apparently did? Or will you find yourself questioning the actions your past self did and strive to make a new road in life? Others in the game may help or hinder you either way.

    The Witcher is one of the most reactive games I’ve ever played, in that almost everything you do in the game has a consequence of some kind. Some of them are minor; it’s possible to piss off NPCs enough that they won’t talk to you until sufficient time has passed, for example. Some are major, such as supporting the non-humans in their struggle for better rights in a human-dominated world, which will win you allies and friends among non-humans and their sympathisers, but which will make you enemies with the powerful Church of the Eternal Fire, who can make life very, VERY difficult for you.

    To further complicate matters, the non-humans aren’t always selective about the targets they raid for gold, food and weapons. Innocents as well as the guilty have been harmed by them. In effect, they’re something akin to modern day terrorists, something which really struck home to me.

    I guess, in a nutshell, that’s why I like the Witcher so much. It’s a game that really makes you think before you make a decision. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve actually been this emotionally and intellectually involved in a game.

    You are right that the sex card aspect of the game could probably have been left out without adversely affecting the game. I do, however, think that the opportunity for Geralt to go around bedding various women is a nod to the exploits of the same character from the novel series. Besides, if you don’t want to play Geralt as some rampant womanizer, just turn down any and all offers from the various females in the game. To date, I’ve not run into a single instance where you MUST bed a woman in order to advance the plot.

    Yahtzee’s review of that aspect of the game is also incorrect. He makes it sound like every single woman in the game wants to hurl herself into Geralt’s arms. This isn’t true. There’s only a couple of women I know of who do this in the game, and most of the time, it’s because they knew the old Geralt and/or were lovers with him in the past. Again, if you disagree with the person that Geralt was, by all means, turn away from that path.

    Finally, the combat system of the game is more intricate than it first appears. It may LOOK like it’s a blatant clickfest, but it’s not. Mashing the attack button on an opponent will likely get you killed, because it breaks your attack combos. Besides, despite his legendary reputation, Geralt actually isn’t THAT much tougher than ordinary humans. If you happened to get mobbed by multiple opponents, and you don’t know how to properly deal with such a situation, you will find yourself face-down and bleeding very swiftly. Monsters in the Witcher also tend to be much stronger, faster and/or resilient than Geralt; tackling them head on in battle is usually fatal. Victory in battle relies on careful planning, usage of the terrain, judicious application of various alchemical devices, or just plain old hit and run tactics (which aren’t always a valid option in some battles).

    As to Geralt’s appearance… I find it OK. He’s not particularly ugly nor particularly handsome, but then again, I’m not really qualified to say. :P (I will, however, say that his voice-acting really needs improvement.)

    All in all, I guess at the end of the day, I really, really enjoy the Witcher, and my reasons are outlined above. If you don’t, that’s fine. Not all games are for everyone. I just want to provide a contrasting viewpoint to save those players who are like me and who might otherwise miss out on a fantastic game.

  92. Eric says:

    I hate to say it, but on X-play they gave it a 4/5. Sometimes their reviews make scratch my head.

  93. Alex says:

    “The problem is that this persona is set in stone before you even install the game. At the onset you are handed an immutable character, created by the designers, who then give you almost no freedom to deviate from their vision.”

    Hmm… You say that like it’s a fault.

    Is this really an issue for a non MMO game? If it is an issue here, is it also an issue in the thousands of other games where you play a pre-set character designed and written by the development team? Can a playable character only be a blank template for us to chisel away the details?

    On the one hand, being railroaded into a defined character does eliminate the freedom of participating in the story like in more open-ended games. But then, where do games like Final Fantasy fit into this? The cast of FFXII for example. Their looks, personality and history are made by the developer(or rather, character designers and script-writers). I don’t see it as a problem if a game offers only a specific character to play as. So long as they’re intriguing, and the story makes them endearing, surprising or just plain interesting.

    When I play God of War, I think it would be silly for me to complain that the omni-jawed, arrogant, mass-murderer of mythical monsters is not a mild-mannered, Christian pacifist. I purchased a game knowing full and well that I would have to play as this jerkface, and the story really isn’t mature enough for me to expect anything more. This Gestalt fellow sounds a lot more interesting and endearing than Kratos though. Sometimes you’ve gotta pick your battles, Shamus. =/

    I guess whether or not Gestalt is a problem depends on the type of game The Witcher is trying to be. Is it a game like KOTOR, with dialogue trees and “choices” and such, meant to reflect the person playing? Or is it a more straight-forward affair, with a more linear structure to it, like Dragon Quest or Kingdom Hearts? One where we’re just along for the ride, like an interactive movie.

    In all honesty, Geralt actually sounds pretty interesting compared to the typical RPG fare. Even if he doesn’t act or think or dress or bathe to the extent that I would, just from how you described him I’d be interested in playing this game. It’s nice when a game lets me play as someone who isn’t shiny and perfect for once. I’d rather play as a Gestalt than a Master Chief. >.<

  94. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Otters34:

    “Never played it myself, but one thing I would like to mention is that in the Olden Tymes, people wore VERY bright clothes, not dung-cloth or tanned metal.It's irritating and makes for one massively boring time if you forget this, and saying that it's gritty makes little sense when all the peasant's have loads of cash, enough and to spare for a house with more than two or three rooms.Also, bathing was highly regarded, not rare, as streams had come to pass at that time.”

    Not true for the peasants.Although,like you said,a guy having loads of gold under his bed is not a peasant.

  95. Tom Davidson says:

    I’m not sure I understand your objections here, Shamus. Sure, you’re playing an established character — just like you would be if you played, say, Frodo in a LotR game — but they’ve hauled out the cliched amnesia device mainly to give you some flexibility that you wouldn’t otherwise have. And yes, Geralt is definitely both grizzled and sexist (and even more grizzled if you’re playing the game with the graphics sliders set as low as you appear to be), and the sex cards thing — along with the boxing, drinking, and dice minigames — is clearly meant to add a certain juvenile stereotype of edgy “manliness.”

    But that’s the game. It’s not trying to be a sandbox game. It’s not trying to be everything to everyone. In The Witcher, you play through the story as this guy, Geralt, and see the world through his eyes; you can have some significant influence on how the story pans out and how Geralt himself behaves, but you’re not ever going to get the opportunity to play a willowy non-combatant with shocking red hair and a fondness for balloon animals.

    If you’re going to force yourself to play through the game while resenting the whole time that you’re being made to play as the main character of a series of Polish novels, I don’t think you’ll ever come to appreciate any of the game’s strong points. It’d be like trying to review the Halo games from the standpoint of someone who really, really hates wearing body armor, or like playing through the PS3 version of Spider-Man wishing the whole time that you could be Daredevil.

    (Once you’re out of the Prologue, by the way, combat is not a click-fest; at higher difficulties, it’s survivable only if you carefully chain combos (including spell/weapon combos) and learn to pump yourself up with alchemy.)

  96. Nick C says:

    One other thing I’d like to add. Though I’d hate for any of these statements to turn off a potential player because it is a great game, I do hope this game gets bashed a bit more in future reviews. I don’t have to agree with the reviewer for me to appreciate how funny it is to read. I disagree with many of Yahtzee’s little clips too, but each one makes me laugh, on into the night.

  97. Nevermind says:

    You are missing a couple of points here, Shamus. Probably because you’ve never read the books on which the game is based.
    Geralt is much more complex character than you describe here, and he is by no means a “flawless hero” – more of the contrary. He is a monster; a mutant who by way of his trade sees mostly evil and hate, sees monsters and people who are often no better than monsters. And yet he struggles to still do his job and do what he deems right, hoping to bring a little good…
    Well, I’m can’t just describe everything here, so if you’re interested, just try and read the book, there are English translations AFAIK.

    And another point – being based on a book, and one that has strong central character, this game is most certainly NOT a “role-paying game”. Not the way you put it at least. It’s a videogame version of a story; a “videoplay”, if you like. You’re not really supposed to roleplay Geralt, but rather experience a story about him. At least that’s the way I see it.

    BTW, about amnesia. That was needed to tie the story to the books. It’s a cheap move, I agree, but not “completely needless”.

  98. MikeSSJ says:

    Gerald’s amnesia is used to explain why he suddenly can’t do all those nifty Witcher-tricks anymore and has to relearn them by levelling up.

    And there might be a storyline-explanation for it, as well. After all, the game is based on the book-series. It’s not as if the developers invented the characters and setting.

  99. Toxikoala says:

    Witcher – played it through. Enjoyed it a great deal. Keep intending to play it on a high difficulty a second time.
    I quit playing witcher before finishing chapter one.
    I’ll repeat that – I quit playing witcher before finishing chapter one.
    The quest choices are not self evident and are a bit mungy as far as figuring things out. The combat system is different. Very different.
    I quit playing it a second time before getting through chapter two.
    Same problem – the quest pathing was not self evident, I had to spend an abnormally huge amount of time running around talking to folks – and finding the right time to talk to them. And then I gave up and grabbed a guide for it.

    To Sum:
    After chapter 2 was OVER. The game really started. Quests flowed well, the mindless fscking became a bit more understandable. Deeper questions and meaning asked about the kind of lifestyle you led. The pace picks up, and the story becomes a great deal more fun. I had enough talents that it was totaly awesome getting the knack for chaining combat combos.
    The story has made me want to read the books – sadly enough my library hasn’t got them in yet :P
    I wish the first few chapters had flowed better, because I almost threw it in the dustbin because of the crufty first few chapters. Grab a guide for help if you need to – it’s beena good game for the storybook value, and for the sheer novelty (to me) of the combat/magic/alchemy system.

    Tk

  100. Derek K says:

    Given the review and discussion, I think I’m gonna try the game.

    The things that annoy Shamus don’t annoy me nearly so much, other than the sex-cards. I would *far* prefer those not be in the game, but I can get over it if the rest is good.

    I don’t mind a set backstory, especially knowing that I’m entering an existing property. And I’m curious if the amnesia really is a throw away or not.

    Also, I love Eastern European RPGs (one of my all time favorite RPGs is still Darklands), so ….

    Hopefully I can play it without imagining Geralt giving himself the thumbs up every morning….

  101. Danath says:

    If your REALLY interested in the game, I suggest you wait for the Enhanced edition… alot of little nit picks are going to be ironed out, like when the game FIRST came out, loading times… just abysmal, enhanced edition should be coming out soon and reduce the ridiculous times to almost nothing (even though theyve been significantly improved), plus dialogue is getting some fixes etc.

    This will not guarentee youll like the game, but it WILL make the game alot more enjoyable, just my opinion though.

  102. Jeff says:

    I'd figure this medieval world has no birth control, so that's kind of a unique opportunity.
    You know, so long as people are going to talk about realism, virginity was a Big Thing in those times, so being sterile would play no part in the availability of a partner. It’d probably decrease your chances, if you take into account that marriage to this sterile person would mean the end of your bloodline, and nobody to take care of you when you’re older.
    There is a difference between being mature and gritty, and saying “fuck” a lot.
    If they indeed do that… the use of “fuck” is hardly realistic as a medieval cuss word.

    It’s also less a matter of Witcher fanboys than Geralt fanboys being most vitriolic, it looks like.

    But then, where do games like Final Fantasy fit into this?
    Oh god, FF. Don’t involve FF, please. I like the series (playing FF4 on the DS currently, in fact) but any real RPG player knows FF is pretty much 99% linear, with breaks between cutscenes to level up.
    Most of the time you can’t even do things out of order.
    Hm, actually, are there even multiple endings?
    One where we're just along for the ride, like an interactive movie.
    Ah, you covered that, nevermind.
    In anycase, I’ve always considered FF a CRPG (Console RPG), not an RPG. Just like how there’s Action-RPGs. FF started the Console-RPG subgenre singlehandedly.

    Although,like you said,a guy having loads of gold under his bed is not a peasant.
    If they owned the place they slept at, they’re not peasants. :P

    Gerald's amnesia is used to explain why he suddenly can't do all those nifty Witcher-tricks anymore and has to relearn them by levelling up.
    Much like Assassin’s Creed’s magic dagger attack, it’s… very silly regardless of necessity, heh.

  103. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    For a company with the working relationship with Bioware that CD Projekt has, the game they’ve created is pretty much the Anti-Bioware RPG. You know what I mean:

    Bioware Conversation Tree
    Choice #1: Of course I will help you miss, doing good deeds is all the reward I need!

    Choice #2: I will do pretty much anything if there is money involved, never mind my personal opinions on morality.

    Choice #3: No, I will not help you, and in fact now I’ll torture and kill you because I’M SO EVIL!!!!! MWA HA HA HA HA!

    The Witcher is nothing at all like that. Your aren’t just choosing between Unwavering paragon of light and virtue, I take no moral stand at all by choosing the middle dialog option each time or I am evil incarnate and eat kittens, and the world isn’t suffering from some clear cut epic battle between the forces of light and darkness.

    There are no good guys, but there are certainly a lot of bad ones. Everyone is flawed, ulterior motives abound, and there are almost never happy endings. For those of you playing through as the proverbial white knight in shining armor (or trying to anyways): There will come a time when you’ll have to ask yourself whether loyalty to your allies is worth getting dragged into the full scope of what their faction is trying to achieve.

    What do you do when the most ethical choice is to stand back and let the world burn? The Witcher is one of the few games that really made me hate myself for the choices I’d made, even as I knew I’d make them again if given a second chance. The Scoia’tael (or “Squirrels”) in particular present a thorny moral dilemma, as the non-human races are truly oppressed, little more then second class citizens at the very best. In a game by Bioware aiding them would almost certainly be the “correct” or “good” option, but in The Witcher, throwing your lot in with the non-human resistance means allying with terrorists. Not “resistance fighters” mind you, but full blown terrorists, who in the name of a cause that any objective viewer would proclaim as just, commit atrocities that will make you question why you took their side in the first place.

    When the box said there was no good or evil, only shades of gray, it wasn’t just a marketing blurb.

    Oh, and for those of you wondering if you actually have to sleep with one of the various women for plot purposes, then the answer is yes. Not main plot mind you, but a particularly troubling side quest that you really shouldn’t deprive yourself of, if only for the insight into the nature of the man Geralt is (or who you’ve decided he should be), and the nature of monsters (and men).

    Also, wooing Shani involves multiple sidequests culminating in a hilariously awesome late night party with some old friends and 1 of 3 potential guests, which I highly recommend you do as you’ll still have 1 step left at the end before she’ll sleep with you anyways, and those interactions are just too good to miss.

  104. Fosse says:

    A small point, responding to Jeff. “Fuck” has been around since at least the 15th century. So it might feel out of place, but it really isn’t any more than the rest of the language being used is.

    Of course, I have no idea how common it would be to hear it. Since 95% of RPGs I play has people speaking with basically middle American dialects using modern words, I can’t really find linguistic fault with the choice of words that aren’t blatant anachronisms like “jet airplane.”

    Aesthetically, the vulgar language barely registered on my radar as I played through the Witcher. It didn’t seem particularly out of place, and it was no more gratuitous than it is when people use it in their everyday speech.

  105. qrter says:

    Regarding the “bad” language in the game, I’d like to quote mr. Stephen Fry, a man who enjoys all language:

    “Swearing is a really important part of one’s life, it would be impossible to imagine to go through life without swearing and without enjoying swearing.
    There used to be mad, silly, prissy people who used to say swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary. That’s such utter nonsense. The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies, and the kind of person who says swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary, usually have a pretty poor vocabulary themselves. The sort of tweed person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education, or of a lack of verbal interest,
    is just fucking lunatic. I haven’t met anybody who is truly schocked at swearing, really. They’re only schocked on behalf of other people. Well, you know, that’s preposterous. Well, they say: “It’s not necessary”. As if that should stop one doing it! It’s not necessary to have coloured socks, it’s not necessary for this cushion to be here. But is anyone going to write in, and say: “I was shocked to see that cushion there, it really wasn’t necessary!” No, things not being necessary is what makes life interesting. The little extras in life.”

    Or hear him say it.. :)

  106. Mistwraithe says:

    Good points noble bear.

    One key difference though is that violence in video games doesn’t typically involve throwing, pushing or even punching like kids do. It usually involves hacking or blowing people into multiple body parts.

  107. Dhruin says:

    One of the best RPGs released in many a year. Unlike many “RPGs” that let you create a detailed character and then follow the rigid storyline on rails with no meaningful choices, The Witcher takes a different approach. Geralt needs to stay true to the source material but the game offers lots of in-game choices — and different consequences as a result. I’d agree with an argument that said creating a unique character *and* offering meaningful in-games choices creates a superior RPG but I don’t have a problem with a different approach, when it’s as well executed as The Witcher.

    I’m not a big fan of the sex cards but it really isn’t as central as this piece makes it sound. And several of the women are old lovers or friends of Geralt, so it makes more sense in context than it sounds at first blush.

    Even if you consider the sex cards juvenile, it’s balanced by a complex gameworld with interesting choices.

    The amnesia thing? Makes perfect sense – it ties in to the books (which last left Geralt lost, possibly dead), fits in lots of characters that have history with Geralt without requiring the player to understand that history, and frankly, doesn’t negatively impact the gameplay or story.

    It would be a shame for people to avoid The Witcher purely based on this piece.

  108. Avilan the Grey says:

    Jeff and Fosse:
    …Yes, as I understand it (not being a native English-speaker) Fuck has been around for ages. And before that there were other words that meant the same, or worse; some are still used today but not in the original meaning or just watered down because people does not remember what the words originally meant (like Buggerer, or Bugger off).

  109. Simplex says:

    Eric: “I hate to say it, but on X-play they gave it a 4/5. Sometimes their reviews make scratch my head.”

    Because the score was so low or so high? ;) Incidentally, The Witcher got an almost universal acclaim in a year that featured lots of great games (Gametrailers made 2007 #1 on the ‘top ten best years for gaming’ list.). The rewards include, but are not limited to ;) :
    PC Gamer RPG of the Year
    Gamespy PC RPG of the Year
    IGN’s Best PC RPG
    Gamespot Readers’ Choice Winner – Best RPG
    Voodoo Extreme’s Best PC Exclusive Game
    Voodoo Extreme’s Best Computer Role Playing Game
    PC Gamer’s Editors’ Choice Award
    PC Jeux HIT Award
    IGN.COM Editor’s Choice Award
    Gamespy's Editors' Choice Award
    Gameshark Editors’ Choice
    Gamebanshee’s RPG of the Year
    CRPG.ru Game of the Year
    RPGamer PC RPG of the Year

    It does not mean everybody must think it is a great game. But on the other hand, I daresay that if The Witcher was a really bad game it would not get as many good reviews from (supposedly) respectable game sites.

  110. Rasputin says:

    when thinking about pre-set characters another game springs to mind – planscape:torment. that is considered one of the best rpgs ever and i agree.
    when playing the witcher i couldn’t help constantly smiling at all the little idiosyncrasies, a lot of ideas on how to change and add to the traditional rpg style have gone into this game and it pays off.
    real choice and consequence – and im not talking about KotOR style in your face be-bad-or-good-now, but interesting plot twists determined by the player actions.
    i love the eerie european feel to it too. the witcher is just what i needed during a time when the industry is full of formulaic hack n’ slash cash cows and games like oblivion passing themselves off as ‘deep rpgs’. and besides, i can’t remember many occasions where you were actually forced to sleep with someone.

    and about violence vs sex in video games… i hate it when people speak out against sex in games! we’ve been killing hordes of enemies with swords, guns, bombs etc for decades and when sex is implemented, people scream shock, horror. haven’t our views changed since the 19th century when the marquise de sade was imprisoned for his erotic novels, while the streets were flooded with crowds of people cheering on the public beheadings? strange

  111. Otters34 says:

    Good point, I forgot they couldn’t be villains(ains pro. aims with an ‘n’/peasants if they owned land.

    But still, the point stands that they dress far more boringly than they actually would, the ones who made it it being Poles,
    I would have thought they would have known that.

    Dang, and I just remembered that they have centaurs in the Witcher..

  112. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Simplex

    Its not really that hard to make an RPG of a year when we get just a few A titles of the genre each year.

    Besides,the prequel trilogies won numerous awards,but can you honestly say that those were good movies?Public oppinion isnt always the only true oppinion.

    @Rasputin

    Like Ive said before,you cannot call the nameless one really preset.True,he has a lot of history behind him,but his condition made it so that he was numerous characters every time he lived.Otherwise,you could call even the character from oblivion preset just because there was some prophecy about you.

  113. Rasputin says:

    my comparison was vague.
    i was refering more to aesthetics, the fact that geralt and the nameless one both have a preset body with no choice to configure their look.
    there are other minor restrictions on character development to keep the protagonists within the confines of the plot, but with the great stories that unfold in these two games, i have no complaints! especially with planescape, it probably contains the best writing i’ve seen in a game

  114. Doyle says:

    The bit about the cards that I was always sort of baffled by was that there didn’t seem to be a way to access after they are initially shown to you. It seems strange to have them in the first place, in addition to the sex scene video, when you can’t get back to them any more-so than you can to the video. I may have missed the option, but I did feel awfully foolish when my disbelieving friends wanted to see these ridiculous sex-cards I was telling them about and couldn’t offer up the goods.

    And Shamus; I very much doubt that my opinion matters to you, but I really do hope that you’ll give the game a chance to hit it’s stride. I didn’t much like Gerralt at first either, but he can grow over the course of the game, if you choose to let him. And as for his ugliness, well, I haven’t seen a PC so ugly since Oblivion, but at least there’s a World Reason for it this time.

    And I’ve got to say, I did find it to be a nice change of pace.

  115. Juha says:

    “The bit about the cards that I was always sort of baffled by was that there didn't seem to be a way to access after they are initially shown to you.”

    There is. In the journal’s character section, there’s a red heart icon when you select a character you’ve slept with.

  116. Eric says:

    @ Simplex: What other rpg’s have come this year, that have garnered any praise, or attention? None that I’ve heard about, sadly I’ve felt that rpg’s are coming out less and less each year so the witcher shouldn’t win by default. Secondly, All the review magazines or websites you listed, I don’t read or suck. I’m a huge rpg fan, and the first time I heard of this game is when I went with shamus to go pick it up. Now the game is obviously quite popular, but everything shamus listed, I don’t like. It doesn’t matter if the game is great after the first 2 hours, I’m not gonna play to find out. Also alot of you keep mentioning the books are great, that’s fine and dandy but that doesn’t mean the game’s automatically awesome, For some reason the da vinci code was a great book to a ton of people, but the movie was proclaimed to be a pile of crap, but by fanboy logic the movie would be proclaimed the shiz, because of the awesome books. The review on x-play meant it was above average. It was more of a statement of that it was a decent game, one that I wont ever play(ie. halo was voted universally in a lot of mags & sites game of the year. I’ve played halo and found it supremely lacking, so just because reviewers say it’s awesome doesn’t mean it’s true. All reviews are just opinions of the game, not the final word on it set in stone.)

    EDIT: I didn’t see DL’s comment above but he summed it up better than I did.

  117. Dhruin says:

    I’m not sure what your point is. You don’t trust any of the 10 sites listed above but you *do* like 1Up? Or…?

  118. Eric says:

    my point is I could find a review that doesn’t say witcher is rpg of the year. The only reviews I take seriously are ZP and EGM. The aforementioned review sources have showed dubious reviews, as if they were on the take(except pc gamer, and we all remember gamestops BS). 1up is paired with egm, but like I said earlier reviews are just opinions, not the final word. IF you love this game good for you, it just isn’t the game for me and some others. So in retrospect you have the final word.

  119. Dhruin says:

    You can find a single review that says anything you like. (I’m also amazed people take ZP seriously but that’s a different topic).

    The review you linked seems pretty positive to me, although you might point out to them Shamus’ rant about graphics on the front page, because one of their criticisms is the lack of anything new technologically.

    So, it doesn’t say “RPG of the year” but according to their scoring system, it’s “good” – not quite what Shamus seems to be implying.

  120. Eric says:

    I don’t take zp seriously, I just trust it to be funny, and yes the review was positive but it wasn’t game of the year quality, just above average…. ya know what I don’t care anymore this game isn’t worth the argument, I said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you like it, get it and vice-versa. Jesus, Shamus I thought most of your readers were above picking on little shite, but apparently you have to explain every little nuance

  121. Eric says:

    And also this is Shamus’s first look at the game, so far he’s only found the first couple of hours crap. That might’ve changed by now, he might want to suck off all the programmers because the gameplay changed so dramatically, that he can overlook the beginning. MY POINT is that he hasn’t done a full review yet.

  122. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    In case anyone might find it interesting, here is a review that endeavors to explain the problems in all the other reviews of the game.
    http://www.rpgwatch.com/show/article?articleid=71&ref=0&id=66

  123. Derek K says:

    HA!

    I was curious what RPGs *did* come out in 2007.

    Link one on my search was from 2006, called “Most anticipated RPGs of 2007.” from an Xbox site

    The list:

    Blue Dragon (eh.)
    Huxley (HA!)
    All Points Bulletin (HA HA!)
    Fable 2 (HA HA HA!)
    Warhammer Online (MUAHAHAHAHA!)
    Lost Odyssey (Close, but…)
    LoTR: The White Council (Huh?)
    Marvel Universe Online (HA HA HA *snort* HA HA HA)
    Eternal Sonata (Okay, there you go)
    Age of Conan (We saw how that went…)
    Mass Effect (Finally! But that was on Xbox)

    Struck me as pretty dang funny.

    But yeah, 2007’s list of RPGs is pretty short.

    STALKER
    Sam and Max, which was RPGish….

    That’s really it, from what I see.

  124. Jaro says:

    Not read all comments – so this may have been said already, but there is a distinct choice when working on a CRPG (or ‘role playing’ game if you prefer) and that is generalised one of plot / narrative vs freedom / roleplay.

    A completely free-range (in plot, character choice, actions etc.) by it’s nature will have less central narrative and ends up having to cater for a host of player choices.

    Games that follow that path generally fall back on the A(Good) B(Nuetral) C(Evil) multi-choice systems – with a few choices triggering actions later in the game – and those actions tend not to be specific to either your character – or the way you’ve been playing. Typically class dependant side-quest are thrown in to try and make it feel as though the game is at least partly tailored.

    I find that that sort of setup works for a typical hack’n slash mod – but a lack of a driving narrative bores me after a while, especially in a setting where very few of my actions actually make any difference.

    Plot driven games have a tendency to rely on single characters (not all by any means) as they can tie in plots and actions far more readily.

    For all it’s faults in the sexism and some of the 70s cliches, I personally found that The Witcher was successful in working in cause and effect in the actions – especially later in the game – far more so than a lot of the other genereic pap that has worked it’s way into (c)rpgs.

    I think the balance in plot/narrative/freedom has been attained in only 1 CRPG that I have played, and it was one with a very specific setting, and character – Planescape Torment (although some of the ‘humour’ did wear thin).

    I enjoyed The Witcher – certainly not as bad as painted here (not as good as some would have you believe either) – but some of the underlying things that they were trying in this game – the no easy choices and the cause and effect – should certainly be lauded.

  125. B.J. says:

    I liked the Witcher, but I agree that the sex and amnesia are superfluous.

  126. CatPerson says:

    Shamus wrote:
    >I picture him getting up each morning and looking at his
    >pasty withered mug in the mirror while thinking, “Yeah
    >baby, I still got it”.

    Funny you should say that… :)
    In one of the stories (in the books, not in the game) Geralt met a doppelganger. As one of its tricks, the creature impersonated him to his face, so Geralt looked at his copy.
    He thought (translation mine): “Damn, I’m ugly! And what a rotten grin I have!”

  127. MacQ says:

    You’re just jealous Shamus. Admit it. :D

  128. MichelleM says:

    This thread is too funny. I also wanted to know what advantages there were other than collecting the cards. Since the first female character taught me something after the sex, I figured I would just keep doing it to see if I got anything out of it.

    The only disconcerting thing about it is that I am female but playing as this male character.

    It cracks me up, he has the complete perfect setup. He’s sterile and can’t catch any diseases. Game was definitely written by a man.

    I do wish there was an option to be a female witcher and seduce all the men, would be way more fun :)

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