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‘Witcher 2’ will cast a spell on XBox gamers

There’s always an element within any role-playing game that fans of the genre will gripe about.

While last year’s “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” was lauded for a beautiful and expansive open world, it was slammed by others for its somewhat bland combat.

On the other hand, “Dark Souls” was hailed for a brutally difficult combat system yet dismissed by those seeking colorful characters and a tangled web of folklore.

“The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings,” with a nearly flawless combination of deep, nonlinear storytelling and challenging combat, satisfies all around. One of 2011’s most popular and acclaimed PC games, it comes to the Xbox in a robust enhanced edition full of bonus content.

Playing as the witcher Geralt of Rivia — a mutant who “slays monsters for coin” — you are quickly immersed in a complicated world of political intrigue where loyalties are tested and back-stabbing is frequent. With only fragments of his memory intact, Geralt is accused of assassinating the king and seeks the true killer to clear his name.

The enjoyable quest log is written from an outsider’s perspective, and the pieces are slowly put together based on the decisions you make. These choices have significant weight as you battle your way toward one of 16 possible endings.

Combat is fast-paced, and the Xbox translation has very responsive controls. The magic spells, called “signs,” work well in tandem with the swordplay. You can cast a sign to protect yourself or throw a ball of flame, but the most amusing sign turns enemies against each other: Hit three foes in succession and enjoy the mayhem.

The world created by Polish developer CD Projekt Red is incredibly detailed. Sunlight shimmers on bodies of water; forests are hazy and full of shadows; towns and cities are teeming with activity. This is one of the best-looking games to hit Microsoft’s console.

“The Witcher 2” takes a while to get going, and there are some slight limitations to traveling, though they never really hinder you.

Early on, an elf maiden invites you to a waterfall, hinting at carnal delights — but be careful, because there is far more than meets the eye in the land of Temeria. “The Witcher 2” easily earns its “M” rating, with plenty of wild profanity, sexualized nudity and bloodshed.

For all of you adult — and I mean adult — gamers out there who are hungry for a mature story set within a fantastic world you can lose yourself in, “The Witcher 2” will satisfy.

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