Kalniel gets his mitts on the special editionThe following review was submitted by Kalniel, one of our regular contributors at HEXUS.gaming. The opinions expressed in this review are his own and not necessarily the views of the HEXUS team.
I remember some of my earliest PC game purchases with great fondness. Games weren’t cheap back then, even before adjusting for inflation, and after a slightly guilty purchase I would sit on the bus with a great sense of anticipation. Inevitably I would give in, bring the box out of my bag and start unravelling the contents on the bus seat. The smell of freshly printed manuals would greet me as a reverently plucked each extra goody out of the box. The game itself would just be on a bunch (often tens) of floppies, but already on the journey home I could start savouring extra materials like historic lore guides or imaginary ships magazines.
The move to plastic DVD cases for games made sense from a packaging and costs perspective, but it heralded the end of thick manuals and cloth maps. “Your game should be well designed enough to enjoy without a thick manual!” I can hear market experts proclaiming. They might have a point, but I’ve always felt most PC games have been lacking ever since.
It seems I’m not alone. Polish publisher CDProjekt understands PC gamers. They have always set out to add value to the games they published in Eastern Europe - through excellent and thorough localisations to providing decent game materials. In 2002 they went a step further and created a development studio (CDProjekt RED) to make the kind of games they understood PC gamers wanted. That game was The Witcher, which four years ago brilliantly brought alive the universe of Polish author Sapkowski in a dark and gritty RPG that broke straight into ‘must-have’ lists previously the domain of Bioware or Bethesda Softworks. I don’t have to ride the bus home from town anymore, but in May 2011 a package arrived that for the first time since, brought about similar levels of anticipation. Like then, I couldn’t quite wait either, so I brought the parcel to work, and during breaks slowly unravelled it. It was, of course, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
Printing inks have moved on since those days, so I wasn’t quite assaulted by the array of solvents like I used to be, but the box contents - even of the standard, relatively cheap, version that I bought - are impressive. The game, on two DVDs and a manual, naturally. And a soundtrack CD, special features DVD, a map (paper, but at least that’s more readable than cloth!), two foldable card figurines, a game guide, and just like RPGs of old, a pointless coin trinket. Not bad, although I question why they included a game guide - a history or lore book would have been much more welcome especially as the setting (and events of the previous game) might be unfamiliar to many. I couldn’t wait to get home to try it.