Hot on the heels of Dragon Age II's somewhat disappointing March debut, CD Projekt Red has quenched the thirst of role-playing buffs with the sequel to its critically acclaimed RPG, The Witcher. Released on May 17, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was greeted with much fanfare, earning a score of 88/100 on Metacritic alongside a user score of 8.7/10.
Like its predecessor, The Witcher 2 was developed primarily for PC gamers, though it's not necessarily exclusive to our beloved platform as an Xbox 360 version is in the works. Nonetheless, while many of this year's PC games have been half-baked console ports with diluted visuals, we expect CD Projekt's new arrival to give our test system a well-earned thrashing.
We have high hopes for The Witcher 2's graphical fidelity, though we were surprised and a bit disappointed to learn that it's strictly a DirectX 9 title. This has become somewhat of a trend for 2011's PC games, as you know Crysis 2 shipped solely with DirectX 9 support, though Crytek has promised to deliver DirectX 11 with a patch sometime this year.
Unfortunately, CD Projekt also embraced another unsavory trend of late by shipping a bug-riddled product. It seems customers are now paying to beta test games and this was the case for many who purchased The Witcher 2, myself included. Gamers have faced activation issues as well as poor performance using both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
CD Projekt released the first update last week, resolving many of the game-breaking flaws. Along with introducing half a dozen other fixes, patch 1.1 removes the SecuROM DRM used for copy protection on retail versions of the game. Somehow, the mechanism hindered performance by as much as 30%.
Considering those performance issues, we decided to delay our performance review until some of the major kinks were ironed out. That time has come and we're happy to bring you our full performance test, complete with nearly two dozen video card configurations running The Witcher 2 with various quality settings in three of today's most popular resolutions.