Neverwinter Nights 2 PC DVD-ROM
Published by Atari
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
It’s incredible to think that it’s almost been four and a half years since the release of Neverwinter Nights. The game whose development attracted a mass of attention, which was no surprise given that it was created by supreme RPG developers Bioware, didn’t fail to please when it was released back in June 2002. The game was immensely popular and thanks to the game’s online play and an excellent editor that allowed gamers to create their own stories which effectively gave the game unlimited replay value. There are even several official Modules (additional campaigns) that can be purchased directly from Bioware. To this day the game still enjoys huge popularity. Neverwinter Nights 2 is certainly going to have a lot to live up to.
The first thing you’ll notice is that Neverwinter Nights 2 isn’t developed by Bioware. Instead it’s been left to Obsidian Entertainment. As you probably know this isn’t cause for concern as Obsidian consists of developers who are responsible for some of the greatest PC RPG games of all time such as Planescape Torment and other Black Isle Studios titles. Obsidian has added the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules. There are new races such as the Sun Elf, Drow and Gold Dwarf. New Prestige Classes are also present. The Eldritch Knight and Shadow Thief of Amn are just two of those included. Your party can now consist of four members and you can choose to control any one of them and pause and queue orders for them during a battle (as you could in Baldur’s Gate and other Black Isle Studios’ games).One of the things I disliked about Neverwinter Nights was only having one companion and even then the lack of control you have over him/her was annoying. The game also features a new item crafting system, a tweaked interface and the ability to have your own stronghold. Once again an impressive editor has been included and you can participate in a LAN and Internet game playing either the main campaign or a user created campaign with the editor.
Of course all those features are great but how does it play? Thankfully Neverwinter Nights 2 is top notch stuff. Every RPG needs a quality story and this game has a better story than the original Neverwinter Nights. It is rather tricky to give a summary of it here though as right at the beginning, the storyline seems to be making twists and turns and to describe these would be spoiling the experience. You’ll create your own character (with all the usual customisation choices and a few new ones) and begin in the town of West Harbor. You’ll initially join up with two others and take part in a local festival, which essentially acts as a mini-tutorial. Soon enough things go disastrously wrong and the town of West Harbor is thrown into chaos. Suffice to say that from this point onward the game really gets going and the level of quality is maintained throughout the game. The dialogue is also impressive and as you would expect from a top quality PC RPG you get to make a lot of choices during dialogue. Your actions and dialogue choices really affect how people (including members of your party) will relate to you. You’ll even notice characters in your own party have their own ideals and this can cause friction in your party, as well as harmony. This was something I really missed in Neverwinter Nights so it’s good to see it return in Neverwinter Nights 2.
When Neverwinter Nights came out you needed a good PC if you wanted to run the game at high details. However it probably didn’t look as good as it could have at the time. The same could be said for Neverwinter Nights 2. The game looks a lot better than the original Neverwinter Nights but it is one heck of a system resource hog and I suspect many won’t be able to run the game in all of its visual glory without experiencing frame rate problems. There are several aspects I prefer with Neverwinter Nights 2. You actually have proper cutscenes, very much in the style of the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and it’s much more effective. What I don’t like is having to change the camera angles so frequently. There are four different camera views you can choose from but none are without problems. You always have to manipulate the camera angles to get a better view. Even the Driving View camera, which keeps the camera firmly behind the player, is problematic when inside a building as you often find your view stuck behind furniture, walls or other large objects. Other areas of the game could have been better too. It’s a pain having to right click on an item and then having to select ‘examine’ from the menu in order to find out what properties an item has. It would have been much better to have had a tooltip that delivered all of the information without the need for a mouse click. Occasionally your party members don’t follow you around as they should, which means you’ll have to backtrack to find them. None of these problems are particularly damaging and they should be able to be sorted out via a patch.
Neverwinter Nights 2, like Neverwinter Nights, is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The game is subtitled so you’ll be able to follow the impressive storyline. Cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the speech being shown in the lower border. The previous line of dialogue appears in the top border. Conversations with important characters (outside of the cutscenes) are displayed in dialogue boxes with the characters name and portrait being displayed. Comments from unimportant NPC characters are simply displayed as floating text. All objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time by accessing your journal (with the J key). Information such as the damage you deal and your attack rolls appear in text too. During a multiplayer game you can text chat with your friends making communications very deaf gamer friendly. The game manual included in the box isn’t as impressive as the one for the original Neverwinter Nights but you’ll find a PDF manual on the DVD which is far more comprehensive. Personally I would have preferred the paper manual to have been the full version.
If you were a fan of Neverwinter Nights then you’re going to love Neverwinter Nights 2. If you thought Neverwinter Nights was a little disappointing because it didn’t allow you to have a proper party to accompany you on your travels (and therefore lacked a little personality) then you’re going to love Neverwinter Nights 2. In fact if you enjoyed the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games and fancy something in the same vein (albeit in a different world setting) then you’re going love Neverwinter Nights 2. In essence the only reason you wouldn’t like Neverwinter Nights 2 is if you can’t stand lengthy (it’s at least 50 hours long) games and you don’t appreciate a top quality story in your games. Even when you take into account the fact the game is a system resource hog and has a problematic camera there’s no denying it’s one of the best PC games we’ve seen this year.
In essence Neverwinter Nights 2 is a quality RPG that's definitely a worthy sequel to the original Neverwinter Nights. The camera can be a pain though and the method of examining items could be simpler.