The Witcher 2 really is that good

You might remember that some time ago I posted an interview with some dude from Polish game developer CD Projekt about the upcoming RPG game, The Witcher 2 Asssassins of Kings Enhanced edition (Xbox 360). He spoke all about the game, which is the console version of the PC game that came out a year or so ago. He told us lots of interesting things about the game (you did read it, didn’t you? Of course, you did).

Well, on Thursday that game was sitting in my mailbox when I got home from work. And that night I played it (my dear wife even sat on the couch and watched the opening cinematic, which is breathtakingly good. You can see it here. Go on, click the link: you know you want to) and next thing I know it’s 12.45am and I have to  force myself to go to bed as I’ve got a day job.

After a few scant hours, I’ve fallen in love with the game world featuring Geralt of Rivia, a witcher and slayer of dragons.

I didn’t fall in love with Geralt of Rivia himself (his weird eyes just give me the creeps) but The Witcher 2 could be the best RPG game I’ve played in a very, very, very long time. I shall be playing some more of it tonight. And tomorrow night. And Sunday night. And for as many nights as it takes to finish it. It is an astonishing game.

It’s also an amazing visual astonishment, given that the 360 is what? Six years old now? CD Projekt must be pushing the Microsoft console to the very limit with the visuals on the game.

In other news today

In other news today, Rockstar has released a new video for the upcoming Max Payne 3. I played the original Max Payne and it’s sequel, Max Payne 2, to death when I used to do most of my gaming on PC. The video shows off the game’s bullet time mechanics, which look pretty neat. I had the chance to get some hands-on time with Max Payne 3 but I had to say no. My day job got in the way, unfortunately. After watching this video, I wish I’d gone to see it in action  

What I’m reading at the moment: May edition of Edge magazine

Max Payne 3: the hair's gone and the belly's got a little rounder but Max Payne is still out for vengence.

In this age where e-readers are popular with just about everyone, and gaming content is consumed online,  I still love reading Edge magazine every month. There’s just something about it’s visual style and art direction that I love.

The thing I like about Edge magazine is that it doesn’t try to compete with the online blogs and gaming sites – although the magazine’s publisher has its own online portal for up-to-date news  – and this month’s edition is particularly enticing, featuring a much older and more angst riddled Max Payne on its cover, psychotic eyes glaring out at the reader.

I take my time when I read a good magazine. I don’t flick through it like it’s tabloid trash then toss it aside but my magazine reading process goes something like this: pick up the magazine, scan the cover, flick through it, pausing on pages that grab my attention, then I start reading, starting with feature stories that have piqued my interest and am engrossed from there.

I still have the original Max Payne games for PC, and it was one of the first series to utilise bullet-time mechanics where the player could slow down time and have Payne performing weapon acrobatics as he pumped lead into the hapless foes. In the original, Max Payne was a New York cop on the edge, out for revenge. In Max Payne 2, a love interest came along but Payne was still a man fighting against the system. An angry man fighting against the system.

When in 2009 Rockstar announced that there would be a third Max Payne game, details were thin on the ground but Payne will be a few years older, more world wary and more cynical – as if he could be more cynical. It’s eight years on from Max Payne 2, too, and our anti-hero is no longer in the NYPD, instead working as a private security contractor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In some images, Payne is balding and noticeably fatter than when he was in the NYPD. In a nice touch, actor James McCaffrey, who voiced Payne in the first two games, is returning to portray Payne – this time in a full acting role.

The rest of the current issue of Edge contains a feature about Prey 2, the sequel to 2006’s Prey, and a feature about why gamers are so transfixed by video game violence. I’m looking forward to poring over the contents in the coming weeks.

Who said print magazine’s were dead?