They're connected directly - the sequel's story is derived from a cliffhanger at the end of the first game - but they're both fairly self-contained. All the first game's major plot threads were resolved and the cliffhanger in question was an unrelated sequel-tease. Playing the first would give you more background on the characters and your choices can be imported into the sequel, but the two games tell distinct stories.
heh, I'll probably end up buying it 2 years... like a I usually do. Don't feel like buying this one for the 360.
It's not out for the 360.
How's combat in Witcher 2, particularly controls? I hated controls in the first game so much I haven't gotten further than the first town after the castle siege.
Nothing like the first game's. It brings to mind the combat of Demon's Souls, if not with its exact mechanics then with its intent. It's quite dynamic: there's lots of dodging around, discreet swordplay and spell usage to alter a battle's shape. The game rewards mindful play and is merciless towards recklessness. Position is crucial and your ability to manage your location relative to opponents has a lot of sway.
I could just barely tolerate the first game's combat. This, though, is good. Great, at times. There's some rough edges - it's not as responsive as it probably should be, for one - but after conquering the harsh learning curve I've been having a blast with it.