Shortly after the somewhat disappointing March debut of Dragon Age II, CD Projekt Red quenched RPG fans with the sequel to its critically acclaimed RPG The Witcher. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was released on May 17th and received a lot of fanfare. Metacritic received a score of 88/100 and a user rating of 8.7 / 10 gave it a score.
Like its predecessor, The Witcher 2 is primarily designed for PC gamers, although it doesn't necessarily apply to our popular platform only, as an Xbox 360 version is in the works. While many of this year's PC games have been half-hearted console ports with thinned graphics, we expect CD Projekt's new addition to give our test system a well-deserved thrash.
We have high hopes for the graphical fidelity of The Witcher 2, although we were surprised and a little disappointed to learn that it was a DirectX 9-only title. This has become a trend for PC gaming in 2011, as Crysis 2 ships exclusively with DirectX 9 support, although Crytek has promised to patch DirectX 11 sometime this year.
Unfortunately, CD Projekt has also picked up on another unsavory trend lately by shipping a bug-riddled product. It seems customers are now paying for beta test games, and so have many who bought The Witcher 2, including me. Gamers have had both activation issues and poor performance when using AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
CD Projekt released the first update last week that fixed many of the groundbreaking bugs. Along with the introduction of half a dozen other fixes, Patch 1.1 removes the SecuROM DRM, which is used for copy protection in retail versions of the game. Somehow the mechanism was affecting performance by up to 30%.
With these performance issues in mind, we've decided to postpone our performance review until some of the main issues are resolved. That time has come and we are pleased to offer you our full performance test of nearly two dozen graphics card configurations with The Witcher 2 with various quality settings in three of today's most popular resolutions.