|Published by Atari
Developed by Bioware/FloodGate Entertainment
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Released – Out Now
Requires: Neverwinter Nights
Price : £19.99Neverwinter Nights has been a huge success for Bioware and as a result of this, the expansion packs are set to flow. This year there will be two released, the first of which has to be the worst named expansion pack ever, Shadows of Undrentide. Shadows of Undrentide is not a Bioware creation as such, as the development was carried out by FloodGate Entertainment. I was surprised to see that it’s not a continuation of the story from Neverwinter Nights and what we have here is more of an add-on rather than expansion.The game begins in a similar manner to the single player game in Neverwinter Nights. You begin in an academy and you have to locate 4 dangerous artifacts and of course at the beginning of Neverwinter Nights you had to locate 4 different creatures. However this is merely a coincidence and the story ends up being completely different. In the academy there are yourself and three other students, Xanos, Dorna and Mishca. The leader of the academy is Master Drogan, a dwarf and at the very beginning he comes under attack and is almost killed. A female Harper named Ayala tends the sick Drogan, whilst you are told that Drogan was attacked because he looked after the four dangerous artifacts. You must go after the assailants, take vengeance for the attack and recover the artifacts. You are not alone though and you can take either Dorna or Xanos to accompany you. In total there’s about 20 hours of gameplay to be had with this add-on and whilst that is some way short of the 60 hours that you had in the original game the story is interesting enough to want to play it through again with a different character.The extra story isn’t all you’re getting for your money though. You also get five additional prestige classes. These are Harper Scout, Arcane Archer, Shadowdancer, Blackguard and Assassin. Those who like to create their own modules for Neverwinter Nights will be pleased to find that an additional 3 tilesets have been included. The Desert, Ruins and Rural Winter tilesets should allow for some different looking modules. Module creators should also be pleased to know that there are now new scripting commands available too. I can’t say how effective these are mind you as I never have the time to dabble in module creating. There are also 50+ new spells and 30+ new feats available to you. There are 16 new monsters and grenade-like weapons have also been added. The best improvement, in my opinion, has to be the enhanced enemy AI. Enemies actually seem more intelligent this time around and will give you more of a battle.
Graphically Shadows of Undrentide doesn’t offer any improvements over Neverwinter Nights. What’s strikingly obvious is how much brighter it all looks thanks to the new tilesets. We still don’t have the level of detail that we were used to in the Baldur’s Gate series but it still looks good, particularly on the higher screen resolutions.
Shadows of Undrentide is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The game is exactly the same in this respect as Neverwinter Nights, what else would you expect. The manual fills you in on the new additions that have been included in the game and explains all the new spells and new feats so you’ll know exactly what they all do.
Shadows of Undrentide is a solid expansion pack. The new tilesets, classes, spells and feats will all be welcome additions for fans of the original game. The story is also enjoyable and whilst it doesn’t last as long, it’s still worth the money. You now have greater control over your henchman (or woman as the case may be) and you can put armour on them and encourage them to develop their abilities in a certain way. Despite all these good additions though it’s a shame that the game doesn’t add any real depth to Neverwinter Nights. Moreover, the creators of the Crypto Code software could have included the subtitles to each screen so that it becomes simple for the deaf gamers to easily understand each scenario that would help them to better predict the positioning of their characters and classes. As per the present situation, each gamer has to keenly observe the lip movements to make their next step. Maybe I’m looking for something to make it more like Baldur’s Gate II? Perhaps if you were able to have a party of more than two it would add the need for more in-depth tactics. As it stands there is still a little too much hack ‘n’ slash in the game for it to have the appeal that Baldur’s Gate II enjoyed.
Overall Game Rating: 7.4/10
A solid expansion pack that fans of Neverwinter Nights should appreciate.
Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems for deaf gamers. Shadows of Undrentide is exactly the same in it’s provision for deaf gamers as Neverwinter Nights.