Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC - Review
The original tale was an intriguing story that ran the gamut of Wizards of the Coast mythology – weaving evolving characters with role-player staples and wonderful environments. The story was so well done that sequels were inevitable and there were, in fact, two – Hordes of the Underdark and Shadows of Undrentide.
BioWare was the developer of the first three titles, but when it came to the true sequel – Neverwinter Nights 2 – the reins were handed over to Obsidian. Still this was a title that was in very good hands. Obsidian boasts a number of former Black Isle Studios employees, the developers of other Wizards of the Coast classic PC games like Icewind Dale.
The game begins in West Harbor and quickly shows some of the biggest changes to the game since the release of the first title. Like other games in which there are multiple party members, NWN2 allows players to not only team up with others but also to take control of any party member with the simple click of the mouse. This will prove advantageous for not only collecting the numerous drops along the way but for taking tactical advantage of situation presented. Also give credit to the developers for AI that follows a team concept. While you can affect and gain status with your companions, making them much more responsive to certain needs, when you take control of another unit, the AI uses potions and spells to advantage.
West Harbor is in the throes of a festival, in which the player and his/her team (which will consist of a melee, ranged, thief and wizard class) compete – Ok, it’s a tutorial that will take you through the control interface as well as giving you a sense for the game. Shortly after the festival, the town is attacked and you learn that the monsters were searching for something your adopted father – a wild elf – hid away in the aftermath of a war that happened many years before almost destroyed the town. You are tasked with your first dungeon crawl to locate the shard. Little is revealed to you other than you must travel to the town of Neverwinter to speak to an uncle you did not know you had and find the other half of the shard.
While a bit contrived in places, the game does offer players the chance to feel like they are somewhat in control of the path through the game. However, this is a directed campaign. You are given some latitude in moving along the path, but you will have to progress through the game by moving from Point A to Point B. You will be the one to determine exactly how you will do that.
The game’s central plot is delivered through text and voiced narrative. There are side quests that underscore the main plot and much of the D&D rulesets buoy the game along in a manner familiar to fans of the genre. And then there is the stronghold, which creates a new dimension to the gameplay elements. While the game itself is rather linear, players will have the opportunity to experiment with 16 races, 12 primary classes and 17 prestige classes (unlocked after conditions are met with your character) and players can dual specialize, to create unique characters.
The launch-to-load time is fairly long so be prepared to wonder if the game has crashed or is loading. To take advantage of the game’s multiplayer elements, gamers must be members of the BioWare Community (free). Joining the community allows you to log online and join (or create) games that cover a wide range of modes – melee, arena, PW action, solo, team, story, role play, story lite, PW story, action, and social. Some of the games are password protected and others may be modules created by gamers using the toolset included with the game itself. All in all, the multiplayer community is rich and deep with this game.
Graphically the game runs a full range from wonderful to “uhh?” with some clipping and pathing problems that crop up at the oddest moments. Generally, though, the game is lush and will lull players into the world. There is voice acting that is solid and the musical score is well done.
Neverwinter Nights 2 is a worthy successor to a first-rate role-playing title and should provide PC gaming enthusiasts hours of fun. The game has a long campaign and with the toolset for making modules, and the online components, this is a dynamic and enjoyable game.
Review Scoring Details for Neverwinter Nights 2
The characters have some pathing problems, particularly in large congested areas. The tutorial phase sometimes displayed a window that was supposedly a guide but was devoid of words, which was a bit of a pain. The game controls well, though, using a mostly point-and-click design, and the interface is generally accessible.
Solid animations and effects. The character models can be a bit sharp but the game has a good overall look.
The game is alive with sound and is best played with the volume turned up to hear the nuances of the game.
There is a slider bar that players can use to change the difficulty setting.
Some nice changes/additions that will certainly further the franchise.
A wide variety of game types, a solid online population, Internet or LAN or direct connect options present a deep variety and solid gaming experience.
The game does have some flaws, but it still has an enjoyable adventure worth traveling for RPG D&D fans. It is graphically very nice, has solid sound and has addicting gameplay. Much fun to be had here, with the entertainment factors far outweighing the few flaws the game has.