'The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition'
Console: Xbox 360
Company: Warner Bros. Interactive
The "Witcher" series is an unlikely console success story. The franchise was developed for the PC by a small Polish company. The first one moved some units. The second one was a bona-fide phenomenon. Now Xbox 360 players can stop watching "Game of Thrones" for a while to actually, um, sort of play it. As long as you don't have to leave your couch, right?
Just like the HBO show and stocky book series, this game has backstabbing and political intrigue in spades. You play as a monster-hunter dropped in the middle of a kingdom-wide conflict. There is sex and violence galore, so don't let your rambunctious teen trick you into buying this to make up for years of parental neglect.
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There's also a fantastic, open world to explore filled with genre-defying characters. The elves in this game are tree-dwelling murderers and the dwarves are lazy fornicators. It's like Tolkien if his entire worldview was predicated on methamphetamines and finding his wife with another man.
And the gameplay? It's a blast. This game has the most satisfying fighting mechanics in recent memory. There's an easily accessible menu that lets you dole out lethal magic on the fly and the melee combat just feels right. Preparation and smarts are rewarded here. If you go in expecting to just mash buttons, you'll get your medieval butt handed to you.
The graphics are stunning and in some cases even better than its closest competitor, "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim." You'll run into some frame rate hiccups every now and again, but its nothing that'll ruin the experience. It is, after all, running on a console that is nearly 7 years old. Ah, Father Time, you miserable bastard.
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