The Witcher 3 – Making You Wish You’d Played 1 & 2

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I remember when Newegg was handing out copies of The Witcher with GPUs back in 2007-2008 as a way of trying to convince you to go through with the sale.  Many gamers that tried to adopt The Witcher were often left annoyed with glitches and uneven gameplay as it seemed to be a game with potential – but only just.  Others just let this game fall by the wayside because it was a PC title relegated to the loud minority of hipster PC gamers that most others try to avoid (Hey, PC gamers!  Elitism doesn’t help your cause!).

When The Witcher 2 came out I took some notice as I actually had a PC that could play the title without worrying much about performance issues.  Then again, they were also trying to get whoever they could to play the game before the juggernaut that was (and remains) Skyrim came out 6-months later in 2011.

Now that we are finally entering into the first real batch of next-gen titles and there is no Skyrim, Fallout or anything else to worry about – The Witcher 3 might be in a position to convert many of us to share our playtime with whichever title Bethesda releases next.  Here is my initial reaction to the game after about 2 hours of gameplay on the hardest difficulty (Death March).

It is a combination of many games –

Dragon Age in terms of third person control schemes (which could use a bit of refining in certain aspects).

Skyrim/GTA5/Red Dead Redemption in terms of sheer immensity and scale.  The mini-map reminds me more of a GTA feel than anything (maybe Watch Dogs).  The size of the world is similar to both titles as it essentially wants to swallow your soul and make you a part of the Witcher universe. Couple that with a trusty horse named ‘Roach’ and similar controls to Red Dead and you have a fair comparison.

Bloodborne… Oh, we meet again.  Well, kind of anyway.  I lost my first battle against a group of ghouls over 15 times before learning the mechanics a bit more each time around.  If you give yourself the proper time to actually learn the controls (which become close to intuitive – minus the ironically clunky ‘quick selection’ menu (L1 on PS4) you will find that this game is as challenging as Bloodborne, but it is quite a bit more enjoyable for those of us that actually like to feel like we are playing through a story instead of jumping into some sort of world without stories or meaning.

This game has a lot of potential from the get-go simply because there is a story to be had.  There is no multiplayer functionality and that is a good thing.  In my experience as a casual gamer that actually has a full time job and other priorities in life (you know, family, exercise and living in-general) this game feels like it could last for at least 90-100 hours of gameplay without me even thinking I am bored with it.  There is too much to see, do and discover in this game for me to give it a true ‘here is everything review’.  I can say that selling Bloodborne and playing this is a breath of fresh air that makes me want to learn the lore of The Witcher in order to follow some unknown storylines.  Oh… and by the way – you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on the storyline of past games as they fill you in and even include a compendium in the initial games to bring you up to speed.

Did I forget to mention they include a full map of the world, a soundtrack and even an all-too-classy ‘Thank You’ note to we the gamers with the announcement that they will release free DLC throughout the life of the game.  This doesn’t mean that larger expansions are free, but for them to acknowledge any of this is above and beyond what other companies do.  So, props to CDProjektRed – good on you.

In short and to answer your questions about this game here are a few responses.

Is it buggy? – Well, yes.  There are some issues with glitchy video sequencing and some clunky controls on occasion, but those are all fixable in early patches and don’t hinder the game experience.

Is The Witcher 3 hard? – Oy!  Well, I would have screamed ‘yes’ during my first hour or so of getting my ass kicked by ghouls.  But then something started to click and it suddenly made sense in the same way that Bloodborne and Assassin’s Creed made sense as far as dodging and countering and trying to actually be tactical in your fighting.  Stay disciplined and you will love this game.  Get sloppy and it will punish you.

Should I get this game? – If you are looking for an open-world title and you aren’t obsessed with GTA, Bloodborne or Dragon Age… ABSOLUTELY! This isn’t going to cure you from a Skyrim addiction so much… and that is okay!  I am still playing the hell out of Skyrim and plan on it until the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.  The Witcher is the first game (in my opinion) that is friendly to open world fantasy realm people on next-gen consoles.  I have never felt that way about Dragon Age… it was always too waypoint oriented in my mind and if I am in an open world – I want to explore.  That is The Witcher 3 and that is why you should buy this game.

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Is It More Fun To Be A Hero Or A Villain?

It’s an interesting question when you put it in terms of gaming.  Do you want to be the good guy or the bad guy?  For the most part if you choose the latter in ‘real life’ you will end up in some sort of legal trouble.  On the other hand, if you turn into a mass murderer on Skyrim or Fallout you are simply hated, feared and in plenty of ‘virtual legal trouble’.

What is your persona?

When I was growing up it was always my mission to save the say with Mario, Zelda or Solid Snake.  Now some 20+ years later I am given a choice every time I start an open world game from Bethesda.  Is it wrong for me to have two different personas when I play the Elder Scrolls or Fallout?

I usually spend more time with my ‘good guy’ class, but when I have the opportunity to jump in for some slicing and dicing of whoever comes at me sideways – I relish every moment.

The interesting thing about being a bad guy is that you aren’t really every ‘bad’ per se… you are a brutal good guy with a short temper and an itchy trigger finger.  In most games you don’t lose an opportunity to finish the main quest and save the day if you have butchered 109 villagers in Skyrim.  You are still greeted as a hero after you complete quests or do something else considered ‘good’.

Games like Grand Theft Auto aren’t much different outside of the fact that you are given an opportunity to use bazookas and maybe see some sort of rocking cars late at night or maybe even snipe off the heads of people from a tall building.  That is life in a world of absolute digital freedom and debauchery.

The funny thing is that when this comes up in conversation you will see people that either don’t game or hide behind some sort of veneer of being ‘Holier Than Thou’ act like you are terrible person when you talk about being a murderous adventurer and then they go log on to their creeper profile on Second Life or cruise the personal ads on Craigslist.

So, for those of you that have some sort of strange urge to be a villain – do it on a video game.  You will feel better and you won’t have any real legal trouble.  

Here is your chance – are you a villain or Dudley Do Right when you play these games?  Comment Below!

Grand Theft Auto V – Los Santos (Los Angeles) – NOT Miami (Vice City)

*NOTE – Our initial post was that GTAV was going to be in Vice City.  However, it was brought to our attention that it is indeed in Los Santos.  It was an unfortunate error on our part and we do apologize for anyone that got too excited about a new Vice City game.

Grand Theft Auto V (5) is rumored to be coming out either late this year (2012) or early next year (2013).  With the trickle of screen-shots coming out of Rockstar’s studios it does drive fans of the series to wonder about what they should expect from the next iteration of one of the most controversial games ever developed.

The biggest question for a GTA game is where it will be taking place.

That was answered awhile ago and it is their old version of cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even San Francisco (called San Andreas).  There are some people that all but worshipped Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (a close friend of mine will probably buy a console just to play this game if it is even similar in its beach settings, etc.).

If you look closely you can see that LeBron James is in the background wearing a Yankees hat and cheering for anyone that doesn’t call him a villain. We are holding out hope that he is the actual villain you have to face in GTA V.

The most intriguing part about games from Rockstar is that they almost never disappoint when it comes to story, voice acting and the ability to explore and wreak havoc all over their world.

There are a lot of people that can’t wait to take their talents to Los Angeles (again), but even more seem to want Vice City.  Chances are good you will have to wait another 4-5+ years for that.

What is your favorite Grand Theft Auto City? Liberty City, San Andreas, Vice City or somewhere else?

Conquering The Dead-Zone

We have entered an interesting time in gaming.  This is usually the ‘dead-zone’ during the year in gaming.  As we posted a video a few weeks ago about F.E.A.R. 2 – Project Origin a couple of interesting thoughts occurred:

1.       First Person Shooters get repetitive and

2.       We tend to lose sight of having fun with a game for the sake of having fun

Yes, even Christopher Walken (in the movie 'The Dead Zone') was surprised to hear how easy it is to get through this time of the year in gaming, aptly titled 'The Dead Zone'.

Now that we have entered the dead-zone it is time to start looking at the current status of games from multiple perspectives.

Multiplayer Online Population – How many people are playing the game online currently?  While there are many games that we once enjoyed playing online, sometimes there is still a remaining contingent of players that simply enjoy the game so much that they keep it alive in their dedicated community.

Single Player Longevity – Once you play through the game’s story, what else is there to do?  While many FPS games simply roll credits after you finish the story there are some games that allow you to keep on playing (primarily from Bethesda) – Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, Oblivion and Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption or even the Mass Effect Series… the list usually revolves around open world games.

Fun Factor – To hell with leaderboards or some sort of trumped up ‘new’ features.  The simple question is this:  Does the game own your gaming soul?  I have had many games over the years that may have been a few years old, but I just couldn’t stop playing them!  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a game you have simply for the sake of having a great time.  Whether it is nostalgia, a better experience than new games or just to hack and slash to release pent up stress from the work day… some games deserve to be kept in your collection because they are fun as hell. My go-to game for this was always Metal Gear Solid and now that the HD Collection is out on the 360, it feels like I am reunited with a long lost friend.

What are your favorite games?

Do you play any games online that some people have forgotten about?

Let us know in the comments section!