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Page 3 of 3Perhaps tying in with the arena mode added, there are a large number of balance changes that have been made to combat, some of which are bigger than others, but all add up to make The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0's fighting feel quite different. While the fundamentals of dodging, parrying, and using silver and steel swords have remained the same, it's more in the actual handling of Geralt that things have seen an overhaul. Immediately, it's clear that the controls are a lot more responsive, striking a much better balance between realism and actual ease of use. Previously, it was possible to have an attack interrupted, and Geralt would be promptly stunlocked until death, as if he'd suddenly fallen into a Gothic game. Now, Geralt's attacks can't be interrupted nearly as easily, and the recovery period between actions is much smaller, meaning that now, when you attempt to perform an action, it actually occurs, and you won't find a single bad move completely ruining a fight for you. In some senses, this makes combat easier, but when combined with the fact that Geralt can now be killed by only a couple of attacks, it actually makes the game feel far more fair. Finally, parrying has been retooled to reduce damage up to a maximum of 50%, but since it no longer consumes Geralt's vigor meter, it's overall a much better trade-off than before.
Last, there's a number of miscellaneous changes made throughout the game, most of them minor bug fixes. However, despite the official changelog, it's clear that other tweaks have been made. For instance, the infamous and occasionally rage-inducing monastery battle during the game's opening has been made a good deal easier to get through, as has the encounter with the dragon, and chances are the rest of the game has seen similar changes to smooth out the difficulty spikes. Once again, it's easy to read this as "the game's been made easier", but in reality it means that the challenge is more consistent and the learning curve isn't as steep, which makes a lot of sense considering that the game's primed for release on the Xbox 360. I actually plugged my 360 controller in and played for about an hour using it, and found that the changes to responsiveness and targeting also carried over very well to the gamepad I don't think console players will need to worry about getting a clunky or inferior version of the game in this respect.
That said, there were a number of complaints leveled against The Witcher 2, related largely to its more mainstream- and console-oriented direction, and I don't think that The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0 is going to change many opinions about that. For one, the user interface hasn't received any updates, so the same lengthy list menus and tabs are present, making navigation more suited to a gamepad than a mouse and keyboard. On top of that, it's hard not to look at the game's arena mode with a bit of skepticism it's trendy these days to include some sort of survival or (horde) mode, especially console games, and the arena mode included in the 2.0 update feels much more geared towards those sensibilities. While the mode is no doubt well designed, personally I would have much preferred a few new side-quests, a new town to explore, or even a completely separate bonus module, and it's a bit disheartening to see that CD Projekt didn't take that opportunity.
Overall, The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0 is definitely worth downloading, and, if you've been waiting for a chance to give the game a second play-through, you'll likely find that the changes made result in a better experience. The new content added is more of an aside, but for fans who have already played the game a good deal, it should provide a new avenue to test their skills and compare them with other players. In a broader sense, though, it also shows that CD Projekt are serious about bringing The Witcher 2 to Xbox 360 gamers and more mainstream audiences, and recent statements have suggested they're more than ready to continue supporting the game across both platforms, especially as future updates will add additional story content. While The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0 isn't quite up to the level of the Enhanced Edition as far as new content goes, now is a great time to get into (or back into) one of the best action RPGs we've seen in years, and if you're holding out for the Xbox 360 version, you have a lot to look forward to.
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