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Forums > Submission Feedback > Lewis's The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings review

This thread is in response to a review for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings on the Miscellaneous. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: quincy
Posted: May 24, 2011 (05:05 PM)
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xDeth7, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this forum is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (05:39 PM)
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I appreciate the responses. (minus the one above - whom probably hasn't had a single original thought flutter through his Grand Canyon of a skull in seventeen years)

I'll take your thoughts into consideration.


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Author: Halon
Posted: May 24, 2011 (06:47 PM)
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Wow, was that really 17 years ago? Time sure does fly...


IF YOU WANT MORE BEATS FOR YOUR BUCK THERE'S NO LUCK.


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Author: nilkn
Posted: May 24, 2011 (11:39 PM)
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This is in response mainly to honestgamer:

There are, I think, some logical issues with saying you like a review if you haven't played the game that is being reviewed. The reason is that you don't have the necessary personal experience with the game to judge the veracity of the claims in the review. You can like the sentence structure, the organization, the vocabulary, or the general presentation of the arguments of the review, but the words in the review do not provide nearly enough information to decide, without actually playing the game, whether it's a reasonable review or not.

This is really no different from any academic paper. Let's say you know nothing about modern Israeli film (and if you do let's just forget that for the sake of this thought experiment). You read a paper from a scholar on this topic. You may find that the language is poetic, the arguments logical, and the organization easy to follow, but you still cannot say whether any of the conclusions are true because you just have no idea if the author is interpreting his source material in a legitimate manner. And an academic article that completely misinterprets its source material is not a good article, no matter how nicely it might be paragraphed.

So, I think I've made that point clearly enough. Just something to keep in mind in the future. Even the best scholars make mistakes and misunderstand something--you always have to check the sources, no matter how much you might like or trust the author.

This of course leads to the obvious question: how can any review site select reviews? My personal answer is no game should ever be reviewed by only one person. I prefer the method of the Japanese magazine Famitsu where four people review games simultaneously and in coordination. They can come to different conclusions, but they stay in constant communication with each other, and their reviews are almost always tempered by a degree of wisdom rarely seen elsewhere in game journalism, though I do think the quality has been dropping somewhat as of late due to the increasing visibility and popularity of the magazine.

I also believe that scores should not be assigned. Scores have a multitude of serious issues, and any truly honest review cannot come equipped with a score in my opinion. Scores first of all harbor too much authority. An entire personal 25-30 hour experience can't be compressed into a number. More serious than this, though, is the fact that a score can attain meaning only in comparison with other scores, yet games are always improving both technologically, artistically, and in underlying gameplay design, meaning that the viable range of scores for a decent modern game is bounded below by the score assigned to the best game of the genre a decade ago. So if Doom was given a 9.5, for instance, then a comparative system forces every good first person shooter into the range 9.5-10. The result is that the system would absolutely have to be renormalized every few years, but I do not personally know of any way of doing this that wouldn't result in widespread user dissatisfaction. The current system of scoring doesn't have any such renormalization procedure yet spans a range typically from 6-10, and this is only possible if it is inherently inconsistent. I have provided the beginnings of what would essentially be a mathematical "proof" of this. (Sorry, my major is mathematics, so this is the way I think about everything. :D)

As for innovation in TW2, here's an example of something I found innovative in the game: instead of asking you to kill X instances of creature Y, the game asks you to eliminate all instances of some species in the area. This often involves finding literature in the game world on the species, scouting out nests, destroying entrances to caves containing the nests, and/or killing queens responsible for breeding. This greatly reduces the tedium of this style of quest, it makes the creatures feel more natural in that they can be eliminated through a logical conquest of their nesting system, and it rewards exploration of the game's natural world.

As for the original review, it seems like this reviewer was exceptionally unlucky and managed to experience far more bugs than most players of this game have reported. I'm certainly not saying that the bugs don't exist, but, just to illustrate how rare these are, I haven't experience any of the bugs described in the review. This review without doubt greatly over-emphasizes the presence of major bugs in the game.

I would also disagree with the reviewer's description of the first act. I spent my first few hours in Flotsam talking to Loredo, sneaking around back his house, talking to Triss and Dandelion and the dwarf, talking to Cedric outside the city proper, and so on--none of this is a waste of time in the context of the story, and it would have felt positively awkward to just show up in a new town, where you are by default not liked due to your status as a witcher, and to immediately be given everything you need to progress in the game's story.

But of course this is going to come down to opinion, and I think that is precisely what frustrates some people when a game they really like gets a score which they think is unfairly low. This is just yet another reason I think scores should not be given. Psychologically, putting that number at the end makes an opinion seem to be more than it is. This is why scores are plastered all over advertising campaigns--they don't feel like opinions; they feel like objective verdicts, even if they aren't meant to be. This is undoubtedly why some people might feel offended or bothered by a low score. (Of course, 7 is not low in the range 1-10, but that range is not utilized by almost all prominent magazines for blockbuster games; only the range 6-10 is generally used, as screwed up as that might be--yet *another* reason to abolish numeric scores.)

I have no idea why I wrote so much. I just felt like chiming in. Cheers!


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 25, 2011 (12:04 AM)
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nilkn, I appreciate that you appear to have put some actual thought into your response.

I agree that I can't entirely judge whether or not Lewis wrote a "fair" review without playing the game myself, but that's always the case. On any site that I might choose to run, I can only personally play and review so many games. Because of the constraints imposed by time, I will have to rely on other trusted writers to cover some games if I want my site to cover a broad range of titles... and of course I do.

Lewis is an author who I trust, and I was happy to assign him this review because of his familiarity with PC games and RPGs and his familiarity with the first game in the series. He was the logical choice, and after reading the review, I am pleased with the job that he did. Remember that reviews are written first and foremost for people who (like me) have not put much or any time into the game. So a review's primary job is to let a person like that--a person like me, currently--know whether or not the game is likely to be worth my time and potentially my investment by relating an overall impression of a game and by detailing the points that contributed to that impression.

It's clear that you have played the game (I assume extensively) and that you feel differently than Lewis does about it. You make some interesting points that Lewis did not have time to discuss in his review. However, your main point seems to be that you are more entitled to say whether or not Lewis has a proper opinion than I am. The problem I see is that--unless Lewis is just making up some opinion, which his review gives us no reason to believe is the case--neither of us is entitled to say that Lewis has the wrong opinion. After playing through the game, he wrote about his experience. His opinion is right for him, just as your opinion is right for you.

Also, you mentioned the point about hunting monsters and pointed to it as innovation. Based solely on your description, I can say that it sounds like something I would expect from the Monster Hunter series, with appropriate modifications. I'll know more myself soon, when I start working through the game. In the meantime, have you played a game in the Monster Hunter series? If you haven't, you might enjoy one.

In any event, I don't think anyone is trying to argue here that Lewis wrote a review that encapsulates the "standard" reaction to the game. His review helps to define a spectrum, however. There will always be low and high numbers in a range. Lewis has related his experience nicely and his review is valuable and effective for that reason.

If you're a skilled critic, I hope you'll try your hand at reviewing the game yourself (if not here, then somewhere else that accepts user reviews). Thank you for your comments!


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: May 25, 2011 (12:26 AM)
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That was a really incredible post nilkn. I invite you to write a review of The Witcher 2, or any other game for that matter! Your paragraph on innovation in The Witcher 2 is a great example of good review writing.

Also, can anyone tell me if the other witchers make an appearance in The Witcher 2? Vesemir and Lambert were two of my favorite characters in the original, and I was disappointed that their appearances were so brief.


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Author: nilkn
Posted: May 25, 2011 (01:00 AM)
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I honestly wasn't trying to criticize Lewis's review. I definitely appreciate the alternative perspective and admire him for his willingness to write a review honestly rather than giving into pressure to conform to what other magazines or sites might saying. The points where I disagreed with his review were just my way of illustrating how different experiences can be sometimes.

I was just trying to explain--honestly to myself more than anyone else--why one person might actually be bothered by some other person posting a genuine opinion of a game online.

I think it's an emotion we've all felt sometimes, if not with video games then maybe with movies (maybe critics panned a movie you really liked) or art (maybe you think the Mona Lisa is extremely ugly and feel intellectually confused over how you might dislike something that high-brow art critics praise so much) or an English paper that gets a C despite your love for it or who knows what. I think it's related to the psychological authority that an alphanumeric verdict bears--your entire 10 page English paper, written with the sweat of your brow, reduced to a C, or a movie that made you feel alive reduced to one star out of four by Ebert, and so on. Another part of it is the authority which is deliberately granted to these verdicts by marketing departments.

My previous post was just me working through my thoughts on that--publicly for some reason. :D This just seems to be a topic that is coming up a lot with the destructoid review and to a much lesser but nonzero extent this one. Some people got offended that PC Gamer gave TW2 a score lower than it gave DAII. Some people got offended that IGN gave it a score only .5 higher than DAII. It seems that sometimes people can't be satisfied. I've seen lots of hatred thrown this way or that and felt like writing down my thoughts on this once and for all.


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 25, 2011 (01:17 AM)
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I've felt that way before, certainly, and I've even felt that way on this site! Thank you for reading the review and for sharing your thoughts on this forum. People who are ready to make positive contributions to discussion are rare online, unfortunately, and they're always welcome here.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 25, 2011 (02:12 AM)
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Wow, insane-o-number of comments since yesterday.

I'll address one more point, then leave it at "Yes, I thought it was a very good game; no, I didn't think it was exceptional."

RE: Innovation - The Witcher 2 absolutely is not innovative. It's iterative. The graphics engine, for example, doesn't function in a groundbreaking new way, nor does the visual style do something at all unique. The game simply has better graphics and a stronger sense of art design than most other games around. That's impressive, but it isn't innovative; it's iterative.

The same with some of the stronger, or newer, design elements. There's nothing outrageously different from other RPGs. The only thing that could be considered an innovation, I'd say, is the way the game's second act completely splits in two depending on who you side with, and there are several hours of the game that are totally different as a result. That's impressive, and never been done before to that extent, to my knowledge. But again, it's been done to some extent. It's not an innovation. It's iteration.

Oh, actually, one more point. I've seen a few people, both here and elsewhere on the internet, claim that I said I didn't like the combat. This is actually nonsense. I was careful to explain that I loved the combat for the most part, but also wanted to point out a couple of issues that, when they cropped up, really took the shine off for me.

I think that's the crux of all this. I really like the game. To suggest I implied otherwise is bonkers. I even suggest, in the summary, that I was close to giving it an 8, which is true. I really liked it, but the issues I ran into took enough of the edge off to - I dunno - say, knock two marks off the score.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: May 25, 2011 (04:06 AM)
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..I don't know... I'm not sure anyone really protests your opinion.

It's more that it looks like you're missing something. It's as if someone.. I don't know.. wrote about the original Prince of Persia, and then knocked the game for a repetitive combat-system that forces you into a wall and then glitch you into a trap if you're unlucky, and then you get killed by an unblockable attack from a guard. And the difficulty curve is insanely high once the guards start blocking, and... You know.. can't complain about someone writing that. And if the game came out today, it would be the first thing someone would see, and it could legitimately mar the entire experience, and so on. But it still sounds out of place. ;) Because.. it's not how you're supposed to play the game. Or, it's not what the designers wanted you to see. It's not even what most of the game is about.

..sorry, not much reason to drone on about this. Don't want to be negative.

(But I hope commenter^ over there writes their own review.)


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Author: SamildanachEmrys
Posted: May 25, 2011 (05:38 AM)
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It's good to see such a passionate debate, and I agree with different parts of the different arguments. I think anything I might have wanted to add has already been covered, but I do want to say that I agree completely with honestgamer that people who haven't played the game are (in my view) the best people to judge the quality of a review. They are the target audience.

Sometimes I read a review and feel I've learnt nothing about what the game is like, so I'm unable to tell whether I might enjoy it. This Witcher 2 review conveys the reviewer's experiences, outlines what he found to be good and bad, and why he holds those opinions. That allows me to make an informed decision. This is what reviews are for.


'There would be tears and there would be strange laughter. Fierce births and deaths beneath umbrageous ceilings. And dreams, and violence, and disenchantment.'


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: May 25, 2011 (06:31 PM)
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Uninformed gamers are a review's target audience, and pleasing that audience is important, but people who have played the game are best suited to offer a valid opinion on the review's critical quality. Valid opinions aren't objective, but they are based on logical interpretations of factual evidence, and you probably don't know the facts if you haven't played the game.

Of course, anyone can spot logical fallacies or sheer idiocy ;)

That's why I value a critic who plays tons of games more than one who polishes his writing. Strong writing style shows intelligence, but the more real-world experience you have, the stronger your opinions will be (and you'll naturally write with more confidence). That's why GUTS ruled the universe!

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 25, 2011 (08:57 PM)
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If you don't think that Witcher 2's graphical engine fits the term "innovative" then you need to pull out your dictionary and skim through the d's. I have a good feeling you're confused about the meaning.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 26, 2011 (03:12 AM)
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Assuming you mean the 'I's and not the 'D's, here's "innovation":

1. The act of introducing something new.
2. Something newly introduced.


If someone explains to me what new techniques are used in The Witcher 2's graphics engine, I will happily eat my words. As far as I know, it just does shit better than the others, which is not the same thing, and I can't believe we're arguing semantics over one bloody word in a 1600 word review.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: June 01, 2011 (06:24 PM)
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Hey Lewis. I just wanted to let you know that I was within a few hundred review hits of finally overtaking you, and then you went and wrote this. I hate you.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: June 05, 2011 (06:56 PM)
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Just wait for another game to come out in the next few months that hits 9-10 area and review it at 7. You'll catch up.


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Author: humorguy
Posted: June 18, 2011 (08:44 AM)
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This guy is only one of about 40 editorial reviewers of this game that has given it below 8.5. About 30 of the 40 have given it above 9.0. This tells you, quite simply, that this person does not know how to review games. Especially when they are from smaller developers. It would seem a game from a big publisher will get an extra 1.5 just for coming from a major company, so a Witcher 2 maximum of 7/10 would be a Mass Effect 3 8.5 minimum, just because it's CD Projekt versus Bioware.

Sad really. But this is why I don't read staff reviews at Honest Gamers and wait for User reviews. As User reviews are not as biased toward the bigger companies.


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: June 18, 2011 (09:52 AM)
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A discrepancy between scores does not indicate that someone doesn't know how to review games. You're committing two mistakes:

1) Assuming that all writers use the same scoring logic
2) Assuming that common perception is truth (it's not)

Besides, it's not a big score discrepancy. Lewis still gave the game a favorable review. You're not quibbling over someone disliking the game, but over him not liking it enough. In the end, you're still looking at 40 people who liked the game -- not "39 excluding Lewis", but all 40 people.

Those logical mistakes lead to your goofy statements about Lewis being biased against smaller developers. From what I've seen, he's biased in favor of smaller developers. Just look at the games he has reviewed -- Two Worlds, Geneforge 5, The Path -- those are the things that interest him.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: June 18, 2011 (02:03 PM)
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Thoery: all cheetos are the same user. Even when they insult each other.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer
Posted: June 18, 2011 (02:30 PM)
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That's a rather creepy theory...


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: June 18, 2011 (03:09 PM)
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This guy is only one of about 40 editorial reviewers of this game that has given it below 8.5.

Statements like these intrigue me, so I looked up this game on GameRankings. A total of 31 reviews with Lewis' (as the HG representative) being one of FIVE to give it below 8.5. Those numbers include an 8, another 7 and two 6s. But, I understand. Saying "you're in that 1-in-6 group that doesn't love this game! dastard!!" really isn't as impactful as "YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN'T GET IT!!!".

Rob: Saving the Internet from Inaccuracy -- One Post at a Time.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: lollarson
Posted: June 26, 2011 (03:45 AM)
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I read something in your review of "taking five or ten attempts on anything but the lowest difficulty setting. " I highly disagree. I played trough this game on hardest difficulty settings and whilst on some of the tougher fights, I might go trough 2 attempts in order to beat it. I think that's more due your own 'incompetence' for lack of a better word. The game does give you hints throughout the prologue, altho I do agree that they tend to disappear a bit too fast.

I also experienced that the games does become somewhat easier the further you get in the game, but not in the same fashion as you described. I simply wrote it off as powercreep and maybe some slight scaling issues where the developers misjudged the speed at which you level up and gain additional powers.
After all, you do get more skilled at your controlling Geralt and learn how to use all your different abilities more effectively the further you get into the game.

You also mention that the game allows you to continue it even when you forgot to retrieve your weapons from the guard, I think that's simply a bug of some sort and that's more due ... again, your lack of understanding. Besides, the developers didn't quite expect anyone to be that silly to leave his own weapons behind, just saying.

Reviews are always subjectively, but I think yours was a bit too much? You criticized the game for the mistakes you make, in my eyes, that's not the game's fault. You have to keep in mind that most of the testers generally look for obvious bugs or bugs that happen quite frequently, leaving your weapons behind (which seems like the obvious cause of this) isn't one of those since they are key to the game's combat system.


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