(Feel free to scroll down a bit if you want to go straight for the screenshots and PC specs - I tend to prefer to write down too much rather than risk writing too little, just in case, so if you're not interested in my life's story, I understand.)
I have a bit of an odd problem, that's not necessarily limited to The Witcher 2 (I seem to recall it happening in other games before, such as The Lord of the Rings Online). What happens is that when I run around in the game world, the high detail textures of minor models such as foliage and ground 'clutter' textures (skulls, rocks etc.), only show when I am very close to them; quickly being replaced by gradually lower-detail ones as I move farther away. This affects animations of the models as well, such as the leaves blowing in the wind - if I stand a few steps back, the lower-quality model loads and thus don't display the animation, but if I step closer (really quite close), the high detail one finally loads and it all displays properly. Also affects by this is the lighting, and the shadows; basically, proper lighting and shadows is drawn in as I move forward, in gradual levels - kind of like I'm seeing the proper textures being drawn in before my eyes, only a couple of feet ahead of me.
I'm not sure how better to describe it, than to say that it looks like there's a rather small 'box' around the character (in this case Geralt), and only within this small box do I see the full textures as they should be displayed. What's even weirder is that I don't recall this happening during my first playthrough. It's possible I simply wasn't paying attention, but I think I would notice quite quickly if this was present before; again, hard to convey just how obvious it is, describing it in writing, but I'm telling you, once you spot it while playing, it's almost impossible to ignore it. It eats away at you, at your soul... ruining what otherwise is one of the most gorgeous games ever made.
Anyway, so I tried to figure out what I had done with my machine lately that might have caused it. I had downloaded the new beta drivers from Nvidia, but rolling back to the previous (non-beta) version didn't make a difference, so I decided to rule that out. I also installed the latest important updates for Windows, but that's not something I'd happily try to roll back - I don't see how they would affect the graphics in such a manner, anyway, but what do I know?
Since it's hard to explain exactly what it looks like, and uploading a video of it in motion would take a long time to record and edit. The best I could do was to take three screenshots of an example where large shadows cast by nearby trees, pop in and out of view as I move only a step or two farther away from them; the behaviour seems very much related to what I experience elsewhere through normal gameplay. They're spoiler-free.
Screenshot 1 - On the left half of the screen, you can see two large shadows cast by some nearby trees/bushes. One quite close to Geralt, the other one farther away, merging with the static shadow of the cliff up ahead.
Screenshot 2 - Taking just one step to the right made the nearest shadow completely disappear.
Screenshot 3 - Taking yet another step to the right, and the other shadow is gone as well.
So, this doesn't show how foliage and ground clutter is affected by it, but the behaviour is the same. It appears to be a limited radius around Geralt, in which all the high detail textures and shadows and so forth, are shown properly. Rocks pop into view and gradually get better textures, while other clutter such as skulls and bones might be entirely gone and are painted in before me as I move forward, only a few feet ahead, obviously ruining parts of the experience.
Does this behaviour ring a bell for anyone at all? Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this, and what I could possibly do about it? Apart from rolling back graphics drivers, I've obviously also fiddled with the settings for the game: No matter where I go, low or high, nothing seems to remedy the situation. With lower settings, it isn't as prominent, naturally, but it's still there. I can still envision this 'box' around Geralt. I've also tried to check the settings in the Nvidia control panel, but I haven't touched those in years. Pretty much everything is set to off or application controlled, only forcing Triple Buffering and Vsync, leaving the rest to each game application to set for me.
I'm no expert, so I might have missed something. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about my system or settings, and I'll do my best to dig up an answer. Thank you so much in advance - if there's a solution to be had, I'll be eternally indebted. :)
Intel Core i5 CPU 750 @ 2.67GHz (4 CPUs)
4 GB DDR3
GeForce GTX 470 (driver version: 275 beta, but also tested with 270.)
Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit
DxDiag (you never know!)
Video 1 (New!)
Video 4 (TW1)