CD Projekt Red released The Witcher in October of 2007. The game received many fine reviews, including a 9.0 from GameBanshee. Now a year later, CD Projekt Red has created an Enhanced Edition of the game. This edition sports the original script (as opposed to the pared down version in the North American release), new voice acting for all of the additional lines, improved mechanics and visuals, numerous bug fixes, and more. Better yet, CD Projekt Red has released all of this content as a patch, and so if you purchased The Witcher before, you can download the Enhanced Edition for free.
Now, it's a rare patch that doesn't improve a game (although Obsidian Entertainment is trying their darndest with Neverwinter Nights 2), and so I'm not going to review the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher. It was a good game before, it's a better game now, and you don't need to read a review to understand that. What I'm going to do instead is talk about the patch itself -- what it adds, what it improves, and, most importantly, whether you should care. Since our rating system doesn't really apply to patches, I'm not going to give it a score, but if you read the text of this review you'll get a pretty good idea of what I think about it.
When The Witcher was released in North America, it rather famously appeared in an edited and censored fashion. Most of the media and fan scrutiny fell upon the removal of all of the nudity from the game, but the script was also hacked up and sanitized, to the point where some of the dialogue didn't make any sense (a conversation with Thaler in Chapter III comes to mind here). Well, the Enhanced Edition doesn't change anything about the nudity, but it fixes the dialogue, to the point where the game now sports the complete original script.
I know there are some players out there who would prefer scripts and scripted events to be as terse as possible so they can concentrate on killing things, but the changes to The Witcher's script are actually more subtle than I expected them to be. Conversations flow better, NPCs are more conscientious about telling you where they'll be and what you'll need to do to complete their quests, and all of the nonsensical comments have been removed. Better yet, CD Projekt Red achieved this without the script seeming much (wordier.) I don't know if anybody released any actual numbers for this, but the script doesn't feel like it's any more than 10-20% larger, and the bonuses far outweigh the minuses (assuming you even think a larger script is a minus). About the only downside to the script is that the profanity quotient way up (Thaler in particular swears with every other word), but then The Witcher wasn't exactly a family-friendly game to start with.
Because of the new script, of course, there is also a bunch of new voice acting. From what I can tell, almost all of the actors from The Witcher reprised their roles in the Enhanced Edition, including Doug Cockle's excellent work as Geralt. Better yet, the mixing of the new lines with the old is pretty seamless. There are a couple of places where the volume changes or the actor sounds like he's in a different room all of a sudden, but I'm guessing most people won't be able to tell that a significant portion of the dialogue was recorded at different times. The only downside to the voice acting is that the actor for Dandelion changed, and the new guy is way more flat and monotone than the original guy, and he seems ill-suited as the roguish musician.
The graphical changes in the Enhanced Edition are probably the only disappointing part of the patch, just because they're so minimal. One of the changes that we were supposed to see was the inclusion of a bunch of new character models, to prevent named NPCs from looking just like random peasants and merchants, but this didn't really come to light. Instead of whole new faces, CD Projekt Red only made minor changes, like adding scars or blemishes to the faces, and so people still look like each other. About the only NPC who really got a facelift is Carmen (leave it to CD Projekt Red to concentrate on the appearance of a prostitute), and that's mostly because her hair turned brown.
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