The Witcher 5-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - December 11, 2013
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As usual, I am going to discuss the graphics immediately. The reason for this is that I believe the graphics are among the least important aspects of a video game. They can make the experience more visually interesting, but otherwise serve only as a vehicle for the larger gameplay experience. As The Witcher is a dated game, its graphics cannot stand up against more modern titles in complexity and intensity, but they are still of a high quality, with a singular exception, which I will get to a little later. First, my computer's specs:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @4.50 GHz (45.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB
- G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
As you would expect, the game runs beautifully on my computer, thanks to the components being multiple generations newer than what the game would have run on at launch. On one occasion I did notice a little slowdown, but it only happened once so I believe it was the result of other operations being run on my computer and pulling some resources away. Far more often it appeared my hardware was actually running the game too well, causing screen tearing with framerates higher than 60. There is no internal vertical sync setting to prevent this from happening, but if it is bothersome to you, you can likely force it through your driver settings.
As you play the game you may notice that a lot of people look familiar, as character models are reused for most NPCs, though they do receive different textures to change up the colors. This is what a developer had to do back when graphics cards were less powerful and had considerably less memory to load models into. Closer examination of the models reveals a fair amount of detail, showing, if nothing else, the effort put into this game.
The environment is a slightly different story, as its detail can be evident without having to look closely. In some areas it may be hard to see, where bare ground is more common than grass and other plants. In other areas you can hardly see the ground beneath the foliage. Grass and trees of different varieties can fill the landscape. The insides of homes and inns also have a good amount of detail, though some of it does come from well-designed textures instead of intricate models. Still, some of it is the models. Some large structures, such as dungeons, crypts, and castles, can be spectacular with detailed elements including columns and sarcophagi showing their well-kept state (or state of disrepair).
The whole of the graphics, in my opinion, are of great quality. Of course you will be able to find those points that are lacking compared to modern games, but then the same will be true of those games in a number of years. These graphics (and possibly those of modern games) represent a high quality for any era in gaming. In fact, in some places you can find examples where The Witcher is still superior to modern games. I have found these in its treatment of fluids, with water being disturbed as you walk through it and fire actually dancing and consuming some of what it touches, instead of just being an animated texture.
However, there is one aspect of the graphics that does not stand the test of time well. Non-combat character animations, such as facial animations and body movements when talking, do not look that good. Characters will appear stiff and awkward at times, including those when you are zoomed in on them during a conversation. At times I even spotted animations glitching, causing characters to not move when they should or moving when they should not. These, however, are more amusing than aggravating to me.