previews\ May 14, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Neverwinter Nights Shadows of Undrentide - PC - Preview

E3 2003 - First Look

With a little imagination, anything is possible. With skill, battle savvy and determination, the world is conquerable – even if only a student.

Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, a PC release from Atari and BioWare, set for a summer release, works through a world parallel to the original tale. However there are a host of new options that will expand the game world as well as give new perspectives to the fascinating tale.

The game begins with young warriors in training. Their school is attacked by kobolds who steal valuable artifacts from the school’s master. Poisoned, and unable to track them himself, the master sends the students out to recover the artifacts. Along the way the students will encounter those who would help them (henchmen, with manageable inventories – a new feature), as well as numerous side quests.

The first stop is the town of Hilltop, which combines the townsets from NWN with some newer features. A baby has been kidnapped, a mage needs help setting up shop – those are examples of the adventure that awaits.

In addition to the new prestige classes, other classes have been modified. Wilderness classes can talk to and glean information from animals; high-end characters can spot and discern what tracks belong to those sought; and character alignments can be pursued vigorously. It you wish to be chaotic evil, and defile statues, you can. However, for every action there is a reaction. Defile that statue and you may find yourself cursed.

Other new features include 16 new mobs, three new tilesets, more than 30 new feats and 50 new spells. With the editor tools in place and downloadable modules, players will be able to create their own cutscenes.

As with NWN, Shadows of Undrentide is an amazing graphical journey. The detail in this game – from the wood grain on the doors, to the chipped tiles in crypts and dungeons, to the gentle mist rising off the pool from the waterfall tumbling into it – is stunning. Few games can match the graphical quality of this game, whether zoomed in all the way or pulled back for the wider perspective.

Shadows of Undrentide offers 20-plus hours of gameplay, and those who reveled in the joy of the original title, will find this a wonderful addition. The storyline is solid, and all the elements of a dynamic, thoroughly enjoyable add-on are in place for a great gaming experience.

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