Well, the other night I got "The Witcher" in preparation for when I eventually got the second, it has the option to transfer save files so I obviously had no choice but to purchase and complete the first game beforehand.
I'm about to lay out my first impressions, and there will likely be a lot more from me on this subject as I progress through the game, but i'll try and keep the spoilers to a minimum. Anyway, here we go!
The Witcher is a game based on a series of fantasy books of Polish origin (I believe) and as so theres a lot of lore in the world that doesn't seem to be very well explained. This, isn't a criticism though, I personally enjoy this aspect of the game. It encourages you to explore, and try and search out what knowledge you can. And while it may seem kinda cheap, I like the idea that i'd encourage people to buy the books, i'm always a fan of getting people to read, and I'll likely be getting myself the books some time soon.
As far as the plot is concerned the intro movie does a good job of laying out who your character is. You're Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher (Read as:Human mutated through choice to become fighting machine and monster hunter) and quite a famous one at that. You're faster, stronger and generally more awesome than any normal man, and sterile (Quite important for reasons i'll discuss soon). But immediately at the outset of the game I was left disorientated, and have only become more so. You start off with amnesia running through a forest, and find out fairly quickly that you've been dead for 5 years. But...no one really seems to care. What's more, for a character with amnesia, you at first find a few options to go "Um, who are you?" when characters talk to you as an old friend, but this soon fades out and you greet them like anyone else.
Anyway, plot wise your home is attacked and wrecked and a good friend dies, and you and your pals split up to find out who's repsonsible, and of course, being the protagonist, you're on the right path. I haven't unravelled too much of what's going on yet but it seems to be setting out for something big.
Gameplay wise, there are some issues I have. Overall it's a fairly nice streamlined RPG experience, you have a range of skills at your disposal, though the emphasis lies heavily on swordplay. However I find the method of combat grates on me, you click on an enemy and hold the click and cursos over them to attack, and can chain attacks with timing. However it takes an annoyingly long time to actually attack, where the enemy is liable to have moved or something else stepped in to block the way. On top of this blocking and parrying have absolutely no impact from the player, so when you get hurt you're left feeling very helpless.
On top of this, some fights require you to take potions, not in fight specific questy ways, but just for general survival against tougher enemies, and without having pre-prepped and drank these potions it can be quite annoying to have to go back and reload, especially since some of these encounters are preceded by lengthy cutscenes.
Still, I enjoy the way the game has played out, the combat is fun to watch, as each new rank of your varying swordsmanship makes your character look genuinely more skilled when they fight. And it's always fun to watch yourself twirling through a cluster of men with a silver longsword while they collapse in small bits and pieces.
This is aided by the beautiful graphics, especially for an old game. While the character models look a bit...cartoony, a lot of the world is wonderfully detailed, from the stray dogs sleeping in doorways to the flocks of pidgeons you disturb as you pass.
Finally, it's not a game for the younger ones. There are censored versions for the more conservative areas of Europe, however in the one I have there is a lot of emphasis on the more mature content. I've already defended about 5 women from large gangs of men with quite evident desires, been in a conversation where I counted 8-9 expletives in a single sentence, and had sex with several characters, sterility seems to have been added just to compensate for this, and been granted a trophy card that leaves very very little to the imagination.
While it may be a bit over the top with the trophy cards and the swearing occasionally, I find that this level of realism is fairly nice. It gives the world a nice and gritty feel to it, makes me feel more of a part of it, and I don't find it really subtracts from the experience of playing.
So far it's a good game, not the best, but far from the worst, and I would suggest that if you have the spare time and money, and an interest, you give it a shot. Then again, i'm only in Chapter 2, all opinions are liable to change.