Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer – PC – Review

You awake, in
great pain, at the bottom of a barrow in the center of a cage of runes, unable
to move. A red wizard, Safiya, comes to get you. She cautions you to hurry and
prepare yourself, there is danger about and you have far to go.

Each word you
utter is a potential misstep with this unknown ally. Be careful. She may be your
only hope of escape. But there is something else as well, something within you,
prowling, angry, bound, and hungry.

Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer is an expansion for NWN 2 (
It promises a 25-hour adventure. While not a true feast for the eyes, the game,
nonetheless, offers a deep and rich narrative that oozes with evil, but allows
players to have some choice in conversational tone. Not that it will change what
direction the game ultimately takes, but it does five the sense of freedom to
carry on a conversation, not just cast spells, shoot your bow or hack away with
a melee weapon.

The storyline
takes place in Rashemen, a land filled with malignant spirits, wizards, demons
and gods. In addition to the story arc, the dev team (Obsidian; Mask is
published by Atari) has included a new toolset that will allow players greater
freedom to make their own modules. But that was not all Obsidian did to improve
on the foundation of NWN2. The graphics have been upgraded (still not exceptional,
but run them on high settings with an nVidia 8800 GTX card and you will see some
wonderful textures). The overall performance has been optimized to create a
smoother game experience. There is an enhanced companion and influence system
They have their own agenda and will not necessarily follow you at every turn if
that interferes with their own goals.

No spoilers
here, but complete the end of the first chapter, and a quest called Wrath of the
Bear God and a new game mechanic, Spirit Energy, will be unveiled.

characters can utilize an Enchanter’s Satchel as a kind of mobile work bench. Of
course, you need to have the skill to enchant weapons and armor or the satchel
is just a slot in your inventory. And Obsidian has upgraded epic levels through
level 30 with more than 60 epic feats and six epic spells included in the game.
There are also new classes, new prestige classes and new races added to the mix.

You can import
your character from the original NWN 2 title, or you can create a new avatar for
this adventure. However, Mask of the Betrayer requires a character of at least
level 18 to play. If you create a new character, he or she will be leveled up to
level 18, and you can allow the computer to do that automatically within the
selected character package, or you can do it manually. Should you choose the
latter, you can go with recommended selections, or go your own way.

Part of the joy
of the game is the customization, but not only in the way you construct your
character. The level of difficulty can be adjusted and it has a profound affect
on the gameplay. Easy will make sure that AoEs (damage attacks that have an area
of effect) do not harm party members, and you cannot receive a critical strike.
Damage from NPCs does a maximum of 50% damage (the same goes for PCs, or player
characters). Then there is D&D Hardcore Rules and Very Difficult beyond that. In
the latter, NPCs do 200% damage.

The game’s
graphics are fine (the camera could be a bit more refined), and what sound there
is works as well. You will hear ambient sound effects, some decent voice work
(when it is included; not all characters talk, some of this is purely text
dialogue), and the music is understated but serves to drive the action.
Characters sometimes are viewed facing the wrong way in cut scenes and there is
the occasional pathing problem, but nothing too ugly.

Because the
game is strategic in nature (and a role-playing exercise as well), you can
utilize the space bar/pause button to stop things, change around inventory items
(like healing potions) between your characters, set up your spells to cast for
all party members and then resume the game and have it all unleashed. Does that
spoil the immersion? Not really. The AI is good in this game, but you will
accomplish much more, and more easily, if you do a little hands-on with your

Mask of the
Betrayer is not a starting point for D&D novices, or even those new to the NWN
experience. If you don’t have a clue what you are doing, this game will eat you
alive. It is better to work through the NWN 2 original campaign before moving on
to Mask of the Betrayer. Yes, that sounds like a lot of work, but when you run
into a game that is thoughtful in one regard, and immersive in another, you tend
to want to savor the experience.

Review Scoring Details

for Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

Gameplay: 7.8
The camera
functionality is not very good, especially when it can jerk around, spin too
quickly or get hung up on environmental elements. The interface is well designed
and everything is within reach of the players. Expect a bit of a learning curve
with this expansion. It is built for experienced players.

Graphics: 7.4
Some nice textures
when the game is ramped up all the way. The spell affects are also nicely
realized. You can toggle the level of violence depicted in the game.

Sound: 8.0
The sound of this
title does exactly what it needs to, in that it supports the story and gameplay.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 8.5
A bit darker story
told very well. This is D&D gaming, with the computer doing all the work and
allowing players to enjoy the ride.

Multiplayer: 8.2
Improved toolsets
allow players to create deeper modules and share them online.  

Overall: 8.3
This is a truly
solid and enjoyable expansion. It can be very hard on the player, but part of
the magic of the NWN series is that it requires you to think about what you are
doing. Graphically the game does the job, the sound is well done, and the story
is very strong. The original NWN2 had a few problems, something that has been
addressed with this expansion. While the game has a few problems, it still is a
reward for those who have played NWN2 and hungered for more.