The Witcher

[center]I'll come back. I'll slay every lice-ridden peasant, anything that moves and can't climb a tree. Or you can try to lead honorable lives, clear your conscience, and start again. The choice is yours. - Geralt, The Witcher

The Witcher is like Knights of the Old Republic, only with a story that demands the player make truly ambiguous moral decisions and live with the ramifications hours later. It's like Neverwinter Nights except the combat is fast, streamlined and not weighed down by a ponderous lists of spells. It's the Gothic series without all the bugs or awkward translations. The Witcher brings a lot to the table that we've seen before, but the end result is something unique. It's good, real good.

Based on a series of popular Polish fantasy novels, The Witcher follows Geralt, a sardonic wanderer whose past is long and bloody. You don't customize anything about him before you start the game, the scars on his face and his penchant for swords and magic are all set in stone. The man has walked many paths, but conveniently for those of us who haven't kept up with popular Polish literature, he can't remember any of it. Rescued at the brink of death by his fellow Witchers, Geralt remembers the basics of sword fighting and sarcasm but little else.

You'll want to settle in for the introductory parts of the game. After a long, opening cinematic you're treated to more exposition through conversations with the other Witchers and a sorceress with some connection to Geralt's past before you have a shot at the combat. Even though the game throws quite a few enemies at you to start, it does a good job explaining the three stances (fast, strong and group) and how to switch between them quickly depending on the situation. Attacking is simply a matter of left clicking once on an enemy to initiate at attack and waiting for your cursor to flash and clicking again to continue the combo.

It's a simple system and it works well but you may find yourself put off by repeating the same attack animations until you unlock better skills and a few spells to spice up the encounters. Even with all six spell types unlocked, the combat doesn't vary much from timed sword swinging and knocking back enemies, setting them on fire, slowing them down or throwing up defensive shields. For all the potions and options available when fighting, you'll spend most of your time just clicking in time to the attacks. You can pause the action and give commands if things are moving too fast for you, but it's simple enough that you'll rarely need to for more than searching for the right potion.

While at first the more distant isometric camera seems best for moving around and fighting large groups, as you get used to things you may find yourself spending more time in an up-close, over the shoulder 3rd person view that controls with the WASD keys. Both methods work well, so it's completely up to your own play style.

When you're not slaying monsters or thugs, you'll spend quite a bit of time immersing yourself in the unique world of The Witcher. It's not just a question of graphics or sound, both of which are actually very good, it's all the other details. The people in the city of Vizima don't just stand around waiting for you to talk to them, they go about their lives begging, sweeping or just walking around town. When it rains, most will run inside their homes or get under some eaves for shelter. When night falls, the streets empty until it's just thugs, guards and a few others prowling around. Pushing through the seedy part of town you might find yourself and the surrounding inhabitants beset by a vampiric beast. You could leave it to the thugs, but vampires can be tough to take alone so lending your sword is a good way to collect some high end alchemy ingredients from the corpse.

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Even some of the main NPCs in the story will be at different places depending on the time of day. One woman could work at the church tending plague victims by day, and have more time for personal chats in the evening at her home. Assuming you can get past the old lady landlord who keeps throwing you out of the house. Sometimes just getting the right person at the right time will require branching story paths before you can move forward with the main plot line. Thankfully there's a great map system that makes tracking NPCs, quests and locations of interest easy and intuitive.

Putting aside the main plot and all the branching quests that come of it, there are also other things to do. You can fulfill contracts from bulletin boards, play poker dice with various people you encounter in your travels or get into fist fights at the local Inn. The fighting is more of a Fight Club style affair, only with more betting. You win money as you fight and if you want to move up in those circles, you need to find bigger and tougher opponents to take on. The quest log will keep track of who you've beaten, so it's completely up to you how far you want to go with finding new opponents. The fisticuffs are simple, relying on one button to punch and the other to block. You can pull off more intricate moves if you spend skill points on some brawling skills. It's not deep by any means but it can be a nice two minute diversion when you're at the Inn looking for someone.

Also of note is the Alchemy system. In The Witcher you have to LEARN how to make things. From BOOKS. Then you have to figure out what to get, where to get it, and only then can you sit down and make something useful. With your ingredients in hand, you can create concoctions that do anything from seeing in the dark, aiding your recuperation or even creating explosives. This is not a health guzzling style of game though, drinking a "swallow" potion which slowly revives your health is ok once or twice, but more and you will poison yourself. Everything in The Witcher comes with a price, especially if it's good for you. Like bran muffins.

Because The Witcher is a mature game that assumes you're, well, mature, there is sex to be had if you're into that sort of thing. This being the North American version, there are a few instances where the hair on your nubile target is obviously a little longer than it needs to be, but I wouldn't say the game suffers for it too much. Being that you play a heterosexual man, you only sleep with women. Sorry ladies. When you've managed to bed a woman (Witchers are infertile and immune to disease so why the hell not?) you'll be treated with a painted card of the woman posing, often fully nude. So 3D nipples are out but painted ones are in. There are no sex scenes per se, just an artsy kind of background filter that fades quickly. It's actually quite tasteful.

There are numerous load times which could be an impediment for folks on slower computers. Even with a speedy system, a small house can take up to five seconds to load while a large game area can take up to thirteen by my watch. I can't say it's impacted my enjoyment of the game in any fundamental way, it's no better or worse than the Neverwinter Nights series from Bioware. It's also relatively bug free and stable despite the shaky Atari pedigree backing it, so PC players can buy with some confidence. There's already a 100 meg patch waiting for new owners, but I can't say I had any problems before or after I installed it.

After all this there's still a lot to say about the game. The story is well realized for the most part. Some warts will pop up here and there with a poor turn of phrase or a small plot point that could have been more clear, but not often enough to detract. The promised "lesser of two evils" decisions are in full force throughout the game, I've already been surprised many times by twists and turns in the story based on my past actions. No matter what happens, Geralt always has something to say about it and he's rarely apologetic about the decisions he makes. I've regretted a few, but even looking back I'm not always sure I would have handled some things differently.

The Witcher is a good game. It's not always perfect, but it positively oozes with interesting moments and details well worth exploring. It's not likely to change any minds uninterested in story-laden RPG's, but for the rest of us it's a godsend in the current PC landscape. On any platform, the amount of control the player has over the shaping of the story is unprecedented in modern times. It's not an "Action RPG!" nor is it a "Which of my 200 spells do I want RPG." It's The Witcher, and it's about damn time PC roleplayers had something to crow about.

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For more on The Witcher, check out the latest GWJ Conference Call podcast!

- Shawn Andrich

Comments

kuddles wrote:

Yeah, there's certainly something wrong here. I haven't had a load time over 20 seconds. Mind you, I'm playing a digital download version so maybe having it come straight from the hard drive is helping, but still.

If its like most other modern games, the data will be streaming form the hard drive even if it is a CD/DVD version as well. The only reason we have to keep the disk in is for copy protection purposes and for most games you can go to gamecopyworld.com and find an exe file that will strip that out.

FeralPug wrote:

We do find the translation to be awkward at times, but not so bad as to spoil the game.

There was a better translation at one point, but someone decided there was too much dialog and decided to cut it down, presumably to save money on voice-acting. Which is a shame, especially since it's been done so hamfistedly.

For those of you with the European version, would you mind taking a screenshot of the first couple "sexy woman playing cards" to compare with? I know I sound like a perv asking that, but I'm just curious exactly how much the American version is different. Here are a couple for comparison: Card 1Card 2

It's not really a key aspect of the game, regardless. What IS a key aspect is how completely awesome the entire game is and how much of a tragedy the load times represent, as they mar what otherwise is game of the year material, and certainly a better RPG experience than KOTORII. I won't say it's better than the first KOTOR if only because The Witcher doesn't carry a light saber. I haven't played the Gothic series, but I have played Oblivion and I avoid placing The Witcher in the same category. The Witcher is really more of a Jade Empire kind of game, only one that sucks me in and has me hooked from the opening cinematic as opposed to Jade Empire which underwhelmed and bored me.

I've been playing faithfully since the game was released and still have maybe only made it 30% of the way through. Partly due to load times, but mostly because I'm enjoying trying to do every little side quest and challenge, trying to suck all the awesomeness I can out of it.

Montalban wrote:

For those of you with the European version, would you mind taking a screenshot of the first couple "sexy woman playing cards" to compare with? I know I sound like a perv asking that, but I'm just curious exactly how much the American version is different. Here are a couple for comparison: Card 1Card 2

I'm at work right now, but I can tell you for certain that the first card is exactly the same. I guess they keep out the nipples for the first person. However, I did this for another forum I frequent, so I might as well throw it on here to in case anyone is interested. Make yourself a free account at FileShack, turn off your pop-up blocker, and get in line for this file(it's about 280 megs). Copy, paste, replace all with the applicable folder to replace the american version with the uncensored sex cards. The polygonal nude dryad, however, must remain elusive.

In addition, those who are purists might like to know that going into the .ini file and changing the setting "Language=EnglishFinal_Short" to "Language=EnglishFinal_Long" will restore some, but not all, of the cut original translation within the subtitles.

If the 2nd card is the barmaid Versena (?) it's totally different.

I'll have to try that link, Kuddles. Thanks for the heads up. Although it's really not a big priority when the rest of the game is so much fun.

Edwin wrote:

If the 2nd card is the barmaid Versena (?) it's totally different.

The second card is just a random prostitute, I'm ashamed to say. I haven't slept around enough to see if you get a different card for each and every prostitute, but I'm guessing that's the stock card, since she comes with the "prostitute" journal entry. Maybe someone who has more coin and vigor can verify that.

Montalban wrote:

The second card is just a random prostitute, I'm ashamed to say. I haven't slept around enough to see if you get a different card for each and every prostitute, but I'm guessing that's the stock card, since she comes with the "prostitute" journal entry. Maybe someone who has more coin and vigor can verify that.

All the prostitute cards are identical from what I can tell, although the one prostitute I wanted to "test" out most doesn't offer a conquering option.

It's a PC-centric RPG, made in Eastern Europe, based on a property nobody outside of Poland or Russia knows about. Too bad it'll be one of those great games made with a lot of heart that nobody buys, right? Wrong, it sold a million copies worldwide in it's first week.

I'm just gonna wait until a patch comes out that smoothes out the performance kinks.

shihonage wrote:

I'm just gonna wait until a patch comes out that smoothes out the performance kinks.

Good call. I'm taking a break, as I was going to upgrade some hardware anyway. I needed a break too. It's a massive game. I'll post some impressions after I upgrade my 7800GTX to a 8800GT. Assuming there isn't a patch released in the mean time.

Montalban wrote:
shihonage wrote:

I'm just gonna wait until a patch comes out that smoothes out the performance kinks.

Good call. I'm taking a break, as I was going to upgrade some hardware anyway. I needed a break too. It's a massive game. I'll post some impressions after I upgrade my 7800GTX to a 8800GT. Assuming there isn't a patch released in the mean time.

That's the exact upgrade I've been sniffing around, definitely let me know how it goes!

Certis wrote:
Montalban wrote:
shihonage wrote:

I'm just gonna wait until a patch comes out that smoothes out the performance kinks.

Good call. I'm taking a break, as I was going to upgrade some hardware anyway. I needed a break too. It's a massive game. I'll post some impressions after I upgrade my 7800GTX to a 8800GT. Assuming there isn't a patch released in the mean time.

That's the exact upgrade I've been sniffing around, definitely let me know how it goes!

Ironically, I just upgraded to this model from a 7600GTS last week especially for The Witcher, and a few other upcoming games that I'm sure will test my cards out (Crysis, Assasins Creed, etc).

In SLI mode, certain games improve only marginally; I'm an EQ2 player, and of course their engine is notoriously stubborn when it comes to advances in video. You will see only marginal improvement even set to single card settings.

However, in every other game I've tested so far, the sliders are max and I've seen tremendous improvement across the board. In The Witcher, the only thing that slows me down is rain in the merchant district. BF2142 flies like an eagle, HGL is maxxed out (take that as you like it), Half Life 2 Ep 2 and portal cruised right along beautifully.

I will reiterate: buying a pair in SLI mode may not give you the kind of bang for your buck you're looking for. Yet. But a single card is a very nice upgrade, and nicely priced also when compared to the GTX (it's about half the price).

shihonage wrote:

I'm just gonna wait until a patch comes out that smoothes out the performance kinks.

I'll take The Witcher's kinks over the Hellgate: London debacle any day. It feels like it's been ages since I've felt this good about an RPG.

I don't wish to stigmatize The Witcher with a horrible label like "bad game" but so far this game certainly has all the signs that I've come to associate with bad games. I'm Polish and have been dying for a Witcher game since forever, so I figure as long as I get to swing a sword I'll be happy. Still I wonder if I'm letting the license blind me.

The combat is very innovative, relaxing yet engaging at the same time, and excellent for an RPG. However, the game has a problem with registering your mouse clicks, so sometimes your character does what you want him to, sometimes he doesn't and you don't know why, or sometimes he run up and hacks an innocent NPC to death before you know what's happening. I don't mind this so much, it hasn't ruined my experience, but poor controls are definitely "Sign #1" of bad games.

The translation is horrendous: Fragmented sentences. Missing a subject. Another predicate. Question? Perhap! It doesn't help that the primary female voice actor (I get the sense that there is only one) had some awful readings. Sometimes characters repeat the same nonsensical things over and over, phrases like "What?" (read like a hopelessly confused geriatric) which punctuate every exchange with Geralt. It all reads like a literal translation instead of a skillful one. Cinematics sometimes end mid-scene and the transition into the first large area left me wondering how I got there and why I should care about the things I was seeing.

Furthermore, the first main area is full of generic RPG quests and shows very little of the complexity that we know exists in the Witcher world. You are thrust into a sleepy farm village and immediately run an escort quest, kill X of this, appease these 3 villagers, kill this boss monster, etc.

In all I'm hoping this is like Wii Zelda, and the game gets good after 10 hours. Is it a bad game? No, but it is wearing a bad game's uniform.

I just hit chapter 2 and I'm loving it. This game came out of nowhere with the only the minimal coverage I read from our E3 stuff in the past.

However, the game has a problem with registering your mouse clicks, so sometimes your character does what you want him to, sometimes he doesn't and you don't know why, or sometimes he run up and hacks an innocent NPC to death before you know what's happening. I don't mind this so much, it hasn't ruined my experience, but poor controls are definitely "Sign #1" of bad games.

I have the same problem with the fist fighting. Regular sword combat works just fine for me.

The translation is horrendous: Fragmented sentences. Missing a subject. Another predicate. Question? Perhap! It doesn't help that the primary female voice actor (I get the sense that there is only one) had some awful readings. Sometimes characters repeat the same nonsensical things over and over, phrases like "What?" (read like a hopelessly confused geriatric) which punctuate every exchange with Geralt. It all reads like a literal translation instead of a skillful one. Cinematics sometimes end mid-scene and the transition into the first large area left me wondering how I got there and why I should care about the things I was seeing.

Go into the .ini file and changing the setting "Language=EnglishFinal_Short" to "Language=EnglishFinal_Long" will restore some, but not all, of the cut original translation within the subtitles.

Alright, here's my quasi-scientific report:

3.2ghz dual core Pentium 4 / 2gb DDR2 ram / Windows XP / 250gb 7200rpm badly fragmented hard drive

Abstract: The upgrade to an 8800GT mildly reduced load times for The Witcher, shaving between 20-50% off most re-load times, but not on initial load times as when first starting the game up. More impressively, the overall look of the game was smoother and sharper, and character movement and combat was noticeably smoother and less jarring than with the 7800 card. Also, while I was afraid my 375W power supply wouldn't handle the reported 425W needs of the new card, everything seems to be running smoothly so far after several hours of game time.

Hypothesis: Upgrading my 7800GTX 256mb to an 8800GT 512mb (BFG brand, overclocked to 625mhz) purchased from the folks at Best Buy who told me they didn't have any until I insisted they go in the back and check, should allow me to hunt were-beasts and zombies much more effectively, smoothly and with reduced load times.

Methodology: Run tests with the 7800 first to measure load times. Go to ex-girlfriend's wedding and be on best behavior. Return home and install the card. Be happy that it's half the length and height of the GTX, saving me space and installation headaches. Slap forehead after forgetting to uninstall the old drivers. Get everything updated and working, finally. Fire up The Witcher.

Observations:
7800 card = 2 min 27 seconds to load the streets of Vizima from start-up
8800 = 2 min 3 seconds
7800 = 5 seconds to load Vivaldi's house
8800 = same
7800 = 16 seconds to re-load the Vizima streets
8800 = same
7800 = 25 seconds to exit a random house back to the Vizima streets
8800 = 15 seconds to do the same

Transitioning to fights and running around the streets is smooth as silk compared to the old card, and has alleviated some of my frustration at the occasional clunkiness of moving around the world and interacting with NPCs. All video details are on "high" with 2xAA. The new card isn't any louder than the 7800 which was quiet to begin with. My 375W power supply seems to be enough for now despite the 425W requirement stated on the box for the 8800.

Conclusions: The hard drive is probably the key to reducing load times with The Witcher but the upgrade has still improved the overall game experience. Crysis should really benefit, however. Going to use the old 7800 as a spatula in the kitchen. That thing is long compared to the 8800GT!

Anything else you'd like to know just ask.

I don't think we're playing the same game. More "bad game" signs I'm seeing:

- groups of enemies attack you while the load screen fades out and you can't move.
- bosses knock you unconscious and kill you from over 50% health! WTF?!?
- after dying from said boss fight, being force to watch the longest cutscene in the world, coupled with ridiculously long load times. Of course the game doesn't let me save during the fight and there isn't even a slight pause before it.
- binary moral choices with obvious "right" answers.
- frequent game crashes.

I haven't played an RPG this buggy since Ultima 9.

I don't think we're playing the same game.

I'll say! I've noticed a few of the things you mentioned, but not in any game crushing, horrible context. I'd highly recommend you quit playing and move on to something you'll actually enjoy. Too many games out there to spin your wheels on one that isn't clicking.

Montalban wrote:

Go to ex-girlfriend's wedding and be on best behavior.

I'm sorry, but the backstory to that is what interests me the most in that post, although it's probably better reserved for a different thread.

Certis wrote:
I don't think we're playing the same game.

I'll say! I've noticed a few of the things you mentioned, but not in any game crushing, horrible context. I'd highly recommend you quit playing and move on to something you'll actually enjoy. Too many games out there to spin your wheels on one that isn't clicking.

Come on, now, we've all got thicker skin than that. Plenty of reviews have mentioned the bugs and combat issues. Thanks for that recommendation, though. Now I'm inspired to go into more detail!

shihonage wrote:
Montalban wrote:

Go to ex-girlfriend's wedding and be on best behavior.

I'm sorry, but the backstory to that is what interests me the most in that post, although it's probably better reserved for a different thread.

Don't apologize. I made that as boring as all my organic chemistry lab reports in college.

Maybe if someone starts a thread in the future about the feasibility of remaining friends with ex-girlfriends, I'll elaborate, but the back story on mine really doesn't deserve its own thread.

souldaddy wrote:

I don't think we're playing the same game. More "bad game" signs I'm seeing:

#1 and #3 on that list I have definitely seen, Souldaddy, but for me they were minor rather than major issues. The others, including the binary moral choices, haven't hit me. Certainly, every single conversation isn't a lesson in "there is no good or evil," but overall the major decisions and the branching options in conversations haven't screamed "This is the obvious good guy choice, Montalban. Pick me!" Or at least they're more subtle than other games like KOTOR. The different gaming experiences we seem to be having may just be a question of degrees. We're playing the same fundamental game, but which aspects jump out versus others may vary quite a bit. I have been pulled in by the story, the atmosphere, the overall concept, the beauty of the environments, the hybrid combat system, and the depth (or length) of gameplay. I guess I'm much more forgiving of the bugs, translation issues, frequent quirkiness and the load times, although the load times still bug me.

souldaddy wrote:
Certis wrote:
I don't think we're playing the same game.

I'll say! I've noticed a few of the things you mentioned, but not in any game crushing, horrible context. I'd highly recommend you quit playing and move on to something you'll actually enjoy. Too many games out there to spin your wheels on one that isn't clicking.

Come on, now, we've all got thicker skin than that. Plenty of reviews have mentioned the bugs and combat issues. Thanks for that recommendation, though. Now I'm inspired to go into more detail!

You're mistaken, you can spend the next 40 hours of your life playing the game and going into excruciating detail here and elsewhere if you like, it has absolutely no bearing on my enjoyment of the game. The only perception that concerns my enjoyment of anything is my own. I've played games that other people really enjoyed and just did nothing for me, I didn't stop because I was sure that I must just be missing something and it was going to get better any second now. It never will. Any game that gives you that many problems in the first few hours isn't worth pursuing when we're under a complete avalanche of great games.

Well, I think I ran into a game-breaking bug last night. I've searched for solutions, but haven't found anyone else who ran into this problem. I'm unable to proceed in the game, and it looks like I'll have to start from a much earlier save point.

Anyone else run into trouble like this in the chapter two mage's tower quest? I don't want to post any details to avoid spoilers. All I'll say is that one of the items needed for the quest did not appear in the sarcophagus where it is supposed to reside. The forums I've visited said it's right in there, but with my particular game it's not.

What a shame. Not sure if I'll continue the game.

Certis wrote:

I've played games that other people really enjoyed and just did nothing for me, I didn't stop because I was sure that I must just be missing something and it was going to get better any second now. It never will. Any game that gives you that many problems in the first few hours isn't worth pursuing when we're under a complete avalanche of great games.

If you don't press on, you'll never know. I'm glad I waded through Call of Duty 4. Otherwise I wouldn't have experienced the first half of the Chernobyl mission, which was completely badass. I'd guess that most games do not have the equivalent of a Chernobyl mission hiding in the later half of the game, waiting to reward the persistant gamer; but the absolute that no games will is just not true.

I am with Certis on this... If a game throws, as I perceive it, continuous crap in my face from the moment I start it, there's no way I am going to "slug through it" because "at level 13 there's a cool Klingon base that makes it all worth it".

... yeah, I'm still bitter about that Star Trek game based on Unreal 1 engine that I don't remember the name of.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:
Certis wrote:

I've played games that other people really enjoyed and just did nothing for me, I didn't stop because I was sure that I must just be missing something and it was going to get better any second now. It never will. Any game that gives you that many problems in the first few hours isn't worth pursuing when we're under a complete avalanche of great games.

If you don't press on, you'll never know. I'm glad I waded through Call of Duty 4. Otherwise I wouldn't have experienced the first half of the Chernobyl mission, which was completely badass. I'd guess that most games do not have the equivalent of a Chernobyl mission hiding in the later half of the game, waiting to reward the persistant gamer; but the absolute that no games will is just not true.

I think you're ignoring the context of my comment. Call of Duty 4, at the end of the day, is an FPS without any real bugs or major issues. Even if you're into FPS games and you're not really enjoying it much because it's old hat, you're still running around and shooting stuff. On the other hand, if you're playing a game with what you feel are unacceptable load times, game breaking bugs and a basic combat system that flat out doesn't work ... I don't think it's suddenly going to turn the corner with the right encounter.

Certis wrote:

On the other hand, if you're playing a game with what you feel are unacceptable load times, game breaking bugs and a basic combat system that flat out doesn't work ... I don't think it's suddenly going to turn the corner with the right encounter.

Yeah. That's probably not going to happen.

I don't know, Certis, sounds a little dismissive to me. I hope you don't feel the need to defend your review from my comments. Your opinion has significant weight (Certis is awesome). Your review did prompt me to buy the game, after all. I don't regret my purchase, it's just entertaining me in ways I hadn't anticipated.

I'm with Danjo on second chances. I remember hating Lost Planet's first few levels. That game had no bugs but it did have poor design. zeroKFE mentioned the snow worm as one of the best parts of the game, so I stuck it out until that moment and I'm glad I did. Edwin says Chapter 2 is good, many reviews state the endgame is strong, so I'm sticking with it.

Certainly, every single conversation isn't a lesson in "there is no good or evil," but overall the major decisions and the branching options in conversations haven't screamed "This is the obvious good guy choice, Montalban. Pick me!"

I'm referring the the confrontation between the townsfolk and the witch. Defend her and the dialog was spirited, support the mob and Geralt said some uninspiring stuff. It's the only example I can think of right now but I did have to watch it 4-5 times.

souldaddy wrote:

I'm referring the the confrontation between the townsfolk and the witch. Defend her and the dialog was spirited, support the mob and Geralt said some uninspiring stuff. It's the only example I can think of right now but I did have to watch it 4-5 times.

Ah, ok. I only went with one choice and never tried the second "support the mob" one. That's interesting. It's interesting to imagine the conversations the developers have when coming up with options and tone for dialogue. You'd need some pretty hard core anarchists to have the guts to create a true neutral balance of choices, and it also goes to show that games aren't developed in a moral vacuum. In order to be understandable they need to reflect the audience's own concerns and experiences. There always seems to be a bias, however small, toward harmony/balance/karma/justice/etc. I'll have to go back through the game and pick other options to see how things turn out differently.

If you're not having fun there really isn't a point. That's why you game in the first place. I'm not having as many issues as you are and I find it a lot of fun.