Cutscenery: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

witcher 2I’m not the biggest fan of the Witcher series, though that might all change with the upcoming phenomenal-looking third installment. I attempted to get into The Witcher 2 a while back, though I was put off by the deep spell and enchanting combat systems. With the game just recently offered as a free Games With Gold game on the Xbox 360, I’m giving it a second chance.

Where is this confession leading us? To the rediscovery of the incredibly gorgeous and brutal cutscene that opens the Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

This is arguably one of the best cutscenes I’ve had the fortune of viewing. The graphical depictions of the characters is stunning; the violence brutal and immediate. I have very little complaint with this custscene besides the sad fact that it must end.

It starts out on a peaceful note: The ship’s crew is full of whimsy and joviality as various tradesmen entertain their King with displays of great skill and acts of tomfoolery. The King is drunk and jesters are lighting farts; life doesn’t get much better than that.

It does, however, get worse, and if the marauder sneaking onto the ship is any indication, if will get worse very soon.

By the way, the water and texts of the wood on the ship, the lighting, an d so on — these things are masterfully displayed here, even by today’s new gen standards. Plus, the motion capture is well done, and the music and dialogue work to totally sell the setting and time period. Of course, CD Projekt Red has been known for making solid cutscenes, so this is no surprise.

But this is all technical window dressing and fine touches of detail; the real meat of this cutscene if the dynamite action that is about to explode. Once the marauder tosses his vial of what I’m assuming is a frost spell, noticed by the King’s right hand man and apparent bodyguard, shit hits the fan in a glorious eruption of slow-motion violence and acts of sleek barbarism.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Opening CinematicThe droplets of blood glisten in the sun as they slowly rotate like ruby globules and the vile spins in the background — this is truly a moment to behold. Once the action speeds back up and the spell tome is released, blocked only by a well-timed shield spell from the King’s bodyguard, the anticipation reaches a climax.

With a sure-footed stomp by the marauder, the frozen ship begins to splinter and shatter as the action slows to a crawl. The ease and precision with which the marauder dispatches of the remaining guards is breathtaking in impact and fluid in motion.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Opening CinematicThe beheading of the King is only the last gruesome stoke to this masterpiece of cutscenery.