Review by Underhill04
Neverwinter 2: Average at Best
When the Original Neverwinter Nights came out in 2002, I bought it the first day it came out and was hooked instantly. It game a new-comer to DND games an eye-opening experience. Despite some flaws in NWN, it was one of the great games I have ever played. The expansion packs in June 2003 and November 2003, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark (respectively) added to the fun, even if it strayed away from the original campaign idea of "One main quest with many side quests". The Neverwinter Nights and the two expansion gave DND fans a year and a half of fun roleplaying action. Then rumors started to come out of an official sequel to Neverwinter Nights. Using a different developer (Obsidian instead of Bioware), updated graphics and a new set of DND rules (3.5, as seen in Knights of the Old Republic), Neverwinter Nights 2 was making a strong push to be one of my most cherished games before it was released. However, on November 2nd, when I picked up my copy, I was sadly disappointed.
Story (7/10): Very minor spoilers here. The outline of the story seems interesting. As a member of a village to the south of Neverwinter, you come across a powerful item that is wanted by forces of evil to bring shadow and peril to all the world. Sound familiar? It's the same concept as the first NWN expansion pack "Shadows of Undrentide", just in a different location. In Neverwinter, you are constantly sent on various errands across the Sword Coast while giving you no answer as to how you and your party get to locations far away in so little time. As the game kept progressing, I kept waiting for some sort of stability. NWN1 had the City Core, Port Llast and Brorunna's Well. KOTOR had Dantooine. I was expecting the same from NWN2, and alas, nothing. It's sort of like you're never in one place too lone until mid-way through Act 2. In NWN1, you dealt with quests that were relevent to your location for the chapter. Not the case in the sequel. You could be in Neverwinter, and yet be sent on a quest to the eastern mountains to deal with orcs. It just seems like Obsidian got unorganized in planning the game.
Story Part 2- Subquests: Also lacking from the game are minor sub-plots. The thing that makes an RPG worthwhile is an open game play, and sub-plots help that. In an RPG, you expect some minor quests. These are strangely absent from NWN2. In an effort to remedy this, Obsidian offers the player a unique (and one of the finer concepts) mode where you improve your fortress (Crossroad Keep). While the player must be very vigilant in how the Keep is run, it is a very fun part of the game to see how powerful your Keep can become. You control everything: soldier patrols, training, taxing and even recruiting entertainment for the local tavern. It's a good concept that they should add to in expansions.
Characters (9/10): The party system has been overhauled. It's no longer a 1 companion (2 in "Hordes") henchman system. Taking a page out of KOTOR 2 and Hordes of the Underdark, the companions now have some personality to them. Also, influence (from KOTOR2) is back and offers a moral dilema for your character. For example, early on you will discover two of your companions have very different beliefs as far as stealing goes. How you react to them is up to you, but they will not forget any of your words. Lower influence may result in plots not advancing, people deserting your party or betraying you.
Graphics (8/10): An upgrade over NWN, but nothing amazing compared to some other games out there. The swamps look pretty good, as does one of the towns called Highcliff, which gives you a view that is only beaten by the overlook on the Rakatan planet in KOTOR. As I said, it pails in comparision to Oblivion and the characters still look a little "cartoon-ish", but not bad. Slopes now look like slopes, compared to the awful NWN1 "ramps".
Gameplay (8/10): I'll break this down into several categories as there are several issues.
Traveling: Traveling is done through a World Map (Think Galaxy Map from KOTOR) that gets updated as the game goes on. You can only go to selected places, meaning that it is not open world or even close to it. In fact, it may have even taken a step back as far as places to go.
Combat: Combat, like every DND game, is point and click. Simple, and doesn't require much hand eye coordination. There's a good array of weaponry and new spell graphics to make this game fun to watch.
Inventory: Another adjustment from NWN1 is inventory. Instead of the odd contraption from NWN1 with an item taking up an amount of "boxes", each item now takes up 1 box a piece, no matter what it's size, meaning you will never have those pesky situations where you drop a plot item because you didn't organize your backpack.
Buy or Sell?: I'd buy this game if you're a DND fan and liked the original game. It's not terrible, but compared to the original or even KOTOR, it's not as good. Still, it will keep you entertained.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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