We PC RPG fans are a hard bunch to please, but last year's slim pickings in the genre made us drop our standards a notch. Amongst the torrent of half-assed RPGs, one rather unpolished Polish RPG shone brightly like a diamond stuck in dwarf doodoo. The Witcher stood out for many reasons, the least of them being the game's optimization and presentation. Normally we would have been less forgiving towards a game that looked a generation older than it was, but seeing the quality of content and the expert craftsmanship involved (at least where plot and gameplay are concerned), we couldn't help enjoying the game despite its rough edges.
Running on a modified version of BioWare's aged Aurora Engine (that was used for the Neverwinter Nights series, among others), The Witcher looked and felt rather outdated in many ways. In spite of this, CD Projekt managed to deliver the goods, which is impressive considering it's a relatively new studio; but the end product didn't live up to its full potential. Owing it to the success the game enjoyed, they decided to re-release an optimized version of it (with some additional content), naming it The Witcher: Enhanced Edition.
My biggest gripe with the original was the extremely rigid character animation. This dropped the immersion level tremendously for me, since it made the game's characters seem rather fake, which is fatal for RPGs. I remember the first time this really ticked me off: close to the beginning of the game, there was a cut scene of a child and his foster mother running from a bunch of demon dogs. In a desperate attempt to save himself, when the kid lunged into the air and landed just beyond a set of closing gates (for a supposedly nail-biting finish), he looked like a sack of potatoes being tossed around. When I played the Enhanced Edition, however, the animation was far better.
Even when you engaged NPCs in conversation in the original, you'd have them stand rigid and flail their arms randomly so that their body language would never match what they spoke about. That's been changed considerably in this iteration, making the long-drawn conversations more entertaining.
Updated 24 May, 2013, 3:13 pm IST
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