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Neverwinter Nights 2 Review

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the like-facing-down-a-lich-loved-templated-dire-vampiric-badger dept.

Role Playing (Games) 282

Neverwinter Nights was like an arrow of Zonk-slaying aimed directly at my gamer heart. I've been a table-top player since grade school, and a CRPG version of Dungeons and Dragons with the (at the time) new 3.0 rule set was tremendously exciting. Some four years later, and the sequel had me equally excited. Neverwinter Nights 2 was developed by Obsidian (of Planescape: Torment fame), using a fairly faithful version of the newer 3.5 rules. The result is a game that oozes D&D from every pore. You've got tons of spells, prestige classes, quirky-weird races (tieflings? anybody?), and a polished, functional story that gets you from point A to point B with a minimum of pain. A recipe for a nerdgasm if there ever was one. The game itself, regrettably, suffers from a fairly big problem: they rolled a 1 on their Craft(Videogame) roll. Read on to find out why they should have taken 10 in my impressions of Neverwinter Nights 2.

  • Title: Neverwinter Nights 2
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
  • System: PC
The original Neverwinter Nights was far from a perfect fit right out of the box, of course. While the game's basis was solid (after a patch or two), the campaign was pretty much a throw-away. That never really bothered me; the tools were so great that the fans stepped in and made the game their own. Modules like "the Witch's Wake" more than made up for that initial lackluster experience, and the campaigns they offered in the game's eventual expansions were far more considered and interesting. Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN 2) is something of the reverse, more's the pity. The actual campaign is fairly enjoyable, but the game's foundation is more than a little bit shaky. It's hard to say now what that will ultimately mean for the title's longevity, but my instinct is that Obsidian is going to need to get this fixed fast in order to keep their fans interested.

NWN 2's story sees you beginning life as a 'Harborman', a person adopted by a local luminary in a small village along the Sword Coast. This is the same region of the Forgotten Realms that played host to every other D&D CRPGs you've played, so you're likely to see some familiar names in both locations and characters. There's a big evil, of course, and within the first hour of play it has interrupted your village's quaint little carnival in order to kill and maim. Once the battle's done, you're tasked by your adoptive parent to head north to the city of Neverwinter, to figure out exactly what's wrong and set things right. Along the way, you meet a cast of crazy characters who aide you on your journey. Though they mostly play into the usual D&D stereotypes (grumpy dwarf, annoying druid), there's some originality here as well. I particularly liked the aforementioned tiefling (a union between a human and a demon). She's a rogue (and thus very handy to have around), and punctuates her annoyances by exclaiming "Hells, Hells, Hells". It isn't Shakespeare, but it isn't grade-school D&D either. The story itself develops from these humble beginnings with the usual dramatic scaling that table-top gaming requires. Before long, you're fighting horrific monsters and doing a bit of world saving on the side. What could have been a hackneyed snore was actually fairly enjoyable thanks to the sheer amount of polish the designers gave the story. It's obvious they have a passion for this material, and it comes out in every witty NPC or unexpected plot-twist.

Who *you* are within this story is, of course, completely up to you. NWN 2 offers the same overly-flexible character creation system as the original. Since 3.0, D&D has gotten a lot more complicated, and this is reflected by the sometimes-overwhelming array of options you'll have when choosing your class, feats, skills, and magic spells. Every one of these, though, can be circumvented by using the 'recommend' option the game offers. While I tweaked my characters the way I wanted them, I checked in on the recommend option each time and can honestly say it would not steer you wrong. If you have no interest in choosing a 6th level feat for your dwarven Fighter, you can click right through the level-up process and not feel as though you've been cheated. At higher levels you can choose from prestige classes which offer unique gameplay styles. Some are holdovers from the original NWN, but there have been some new additions as well. It's hard to argue with the degree of customization you can achieve with the character creation system. They even have a fairly robust avatar-maker. Here, at least, there is little to complain about.

Let's go back to talking about that cute tiefling, though. She leaves something to be desired in the brains department, unfortunately. There's an option to manually tell your cohorts what to do, and in dungeons it is a requirement that you turn it on. While traveling, giving your NPCs a little free reign is fine; they'll engage the enemy and there is an option to ensure they cast the appropriate spells. In dungeons their enthusiasm will send them dashing right through traps, past big evils, and into the waiting jaws of death. What I'd really like to have seen was the option for the game to auto-pause after every 'round' of combat. Given that the game's AI is not up to the task of dungeon crawling, I would have preferred to use good-old turn-based combat to ensure maximum party survivability.

Another (much discussed) frustration is the in-game camera. To say that it is curiously designed would be to give a great deal of credit to the game's developers. I'm usually fairly sympathetic to UI problems; making something that everyone will agree is useable is very challenging. A camera, though ... this is 2006 folks. 2+1/2D games have had a useable camera for almost half a decade now. Why Obsidian felt the need to re-invent the wheel is beyond me. Thankfully, you can select yourself and your teammates via use of the F1-F4 keys; a requirement since it's quite challenging to pin them down with the mouse. If we, as gamers, can't complete the 'looking at fun stuff' part of gaming, where does that leave us? This was an inexcusable oversight, and makes you wonder how much QA Obsidian had the chance to do before the game shipped.

Graphically, Neverwinter Nights 2 is visibly better-looking than its predecessor ... if you're playing on an extremely high-end system. On my own system, I found that the game was playably smooth with almost every option turned down and a screen resolution I would have found useable in 1997. With the graphical elements turned up higher than that, my (not terrible) system began to grind and sputter. Slowdowns weren't even solely during combat. Somehow, moving from place to place also caused molasses-like framerates as well. I will say, in the games defense, that the high end XPS laptop I'm currently reviewing from Dell played the game with absolutely no hiccups. This is a laptop I could never afford to purchase for myself, but it played NWN 2 at a very high resolution with no problems whatsoever. Somehow, that's not much of a consolation.

Aurally, the game is fairly forgettable. I always looking forward to a D&D CRPG's musical accompaniment; if it's any good it's likely that it would go well with a table-top session too. The generic fight music is the highlight of the game, more's the pity. This, too, felt like a game element they just didn't have time to give full attention to. Thankfully, the voice actors that bring the NPCs to life are fairly animated. Aside from the tiefling and the dwarf, you'll find a host of unique fantasy-types awaiting your canned questions and plot-related annoyances. The voice acting is one of the strongest parts of the game, and it's a shame that the rest of the title couldn't rise to that quality level.

In fact, it's telling that the components of the campaign (the story, the voice acting, the characters) are the most polished elements here. Neverwinter Nights 2, it was hoped, would offer RPG fans another solid platform on which to make their creations come to life. In quality, the mods created with the original NWN toolset easily match he FPS offerings created in the Quake or Unreal engines. Instead, Obsidian here seems to have produced a more singular game experience. They've focused on offering a single tale ... perhaps ultimately to the detriment of all future tales that could be told with the toolset. There's already been a patch for the game, and it has improved things somewhat. Only 20/20 hindsight will be able to tell us if NWN 2 is up to the task of being the next platform for RPG modding. For now, as a singular game, Neverwinter's technical problems outweigh the story and quality of character acting that might have made this a favorite of 2006. Table-top RPG fans will still find a lot to like here, but the game is going to make you work for your fun. That's nothing new for Dungeons and Dragons players, but those with a lower tolerance for this sort of thing should probably wait for the first expansion. One would hope that by that point these issues will have been corrected, and everyone can enjoy another trip to the not-so-Forgotten Realms.

cancel ×

282 comments

Bioware (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198126)

Why is it Obsidian developing this, and not Bioware?

MORE LIKE A +5 COCK OF FAGGOTRY AIMED AT ZONKS ASS (-1, Flamebait)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198214)

n/t

Re:MORE LIKE A +5 COCK OF FAGGOTRY AIMED AT ZONKS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198410)

lol zonk is so graet i luv grown up men who play games all day instead of working i relly would luv 2 suck his greasy shrivel-cock.

Re:MORE LIKE A +5 COCK OF FAGGOTRY AIMED AT ZONKS (0, Offtopic)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199674)

Shrivel-cock may be the greatest word combine ever...

Re:Bioware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198218)

I'm not sure, but I will say that Planescape: Torment (also made by Obsidian) is one of the finest computer games ever made, D&D based or otherwise.

Re:Bioware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198318)

Well PS:T was made by several members who are working for Obsidian now (originally, it was made by Black Isle studios - a division of Interplay - same folks that brought the original Fallout RPGs)

-- rev layle

Re:Bioware (4, Informative)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198378)

IIRC, Bioware has relinquished development of most titles that aren't their own IP these days. Hence, why the only new Bioware games anyone has seen developed (or to be developed) directly by them are: Jade Empire and the soon to be Dragon Age and Mass Effect.

New Coke (4, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198146)

Maybe I am off-base here but does anyone else think that Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 were a pale comparison to the Baulder's Gate and Icewindale series?

I loved the big parties (which was axed in NWN1 and brought back to a whopping 4 in NWN2). I also loved the plethora of side quests, I am just in the beginnings of NWN2 and it seems a bit linear so far, just got into the Blacklake district. With BGII you could spend days playing and never see the main quest. This is one place I think Oblivion got it right. Is there a reason they pulled away from that gameplay?

Of course I could be biased as BG was one of my first D&D experiences, and as most of my friends are FPS type people so my exposure is limited.

But clean up the graphics to BGII, apply the new ruleset, give me a new storyline and I am happy. Zelda has been using the same playing style since the first game.

Re:New Coke (2, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198310)

I preferred NWN to BG or IW, but then it was my first game of this type. Like you mentioned, I think everyone is going to be in love (or at least have fond memories of) with their first. I haven't played NWN 2 yet. But I look forward to it.

NWN cannot be compared to Baldur's Gate (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198340)

Mmm, well, okay, you can compare them, if you talk strictly about the single-player built-in campaigns, in which case NWN is a mediocre wanna-be at best.

The thing that makes NWN head-and-shoulders superior to Baldur's Gate is the toolset and, more importantly, the Dungeon Master Client.

NWN is special because it gives you the ability to re-live the table top experience as best as possible by having an actual human being in control of the game world. NPCs can be directly role-played by the DM, just like they would be if you were sitting around a card table instead of spread out across the Net. If the players want to exhibit some burst of ingenuity, they can and the DM can make things proceed in a reasonable fashion.

Baldur's Gate is great, and so are many other computer RPGS, but they are all fundamentally limited by what the programmers allowed you to do. NWN is different -- with a DM, you can do things the makers of the game or module never imagined you doing, and the DM can tell you what the result is. Although this was also limited by the tools, which was the most obvious place for the game to be improved.

Which is why this review is basically useless to me. All it tells me is that played as a single-player CRPG like Oblivion, it's a neat implementation of 3.5 D&D rules, but basically "meh" both in content and in presentation. Okay, but so what? NWN 1 was a pretty bad single-player RPG, the original campaign was terrible, but it was on the basis of the tools and the DM client that the game became an awesome, unique experience in gaming. Since the toolset is barely touched upon and the DM client mentioned not at all, this review doesn't cover the things I actually care about in determining whether or not this is a good game.

Oh well. I don't think it runs on Linux either, so no skin off my back regardless.

Re:NWN cannot be compared to Baldur's Gate (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198702)

I didnt have enough D&D friends to make me want to use the toolset. However is there a technical limitation that would keep them from creating the toolset for a BG style game? I didnt get to play any of the expansions for NWN, I just disliked the control of the game, one companion, and limited abilities. NWN2 seems to have a lot more promise though. I think I would enjoy it much more if I could have the free reign that BGII does. Rather than feeling like I am playing a D&D version of Final Fantasy. Get away from the linear feel, give me complete control (within confines of D&D) of my character and let her rip.

Re:NWN cannot be compared to Baldur's Gate (2, Interesting)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199074)

I just disliked the control of the game, one companion, and limited abilities.

That's why I play as a druid. Animal companion + summon + ally + me (as a bear) + perhaps a charmed animal = more fun.

Re:NWN cannot be compared to Baldur's Gate (3, Insightful)

Froboz23 (690392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199392)

What we really need is a game that joins the strengths of NWN with the strengths of Oblivion.

I only played NWN for a total of about 8 hours before giving up on it. It felt way too claustrophobic with the top-down viewing camera. It just wasn't immersive. One of the best immersive games I've ever played was Ultima 9. There is something to be said for a game that lets you pan your vision 360 degrees, especially when you're outside, looking at the night sky. I get the same feeling when playing Morrowind. That feeling is completely absent in NWN. It's the difference between just playing a game, and actually being in the game.

If the wonderful graphical elements of Oblivion, and it's immersive game play, could be married with the table-top Dungeon Master concepts of NWN, that would be the perfect RPG for me.

In fact, I see that as the final solution to all the weaknesses of MMORPGs. The biggest weakness of MMORPGS is repetition. If you had players controlling some of the monsters, and the most competent players controlling quests and plot twists, then you'd have a truly enjoyable online experience without any of the soul-crushing repetition. This is part of what NWN tried to achieve, though on a smaller scale than a full MMORPG. Unfortunately, the UI drove me away before I bothered to try playing a campaign online.

As for the graphics speed issues, I have my own solution for that, which the gaming industry surely hates. I tend to buy games about 2 years after they come out. I bought Morrowind last May, for $18. That included all the patch bug fixes, plus the two expansion packs. And even my old TI4200 video card is powerful enough to play that game at 1600 resolution with all settings maxed, making for a wonderful gaming experience. It's tough to wait on Oblivion, but I'll probably pick that up next year, when I upgrade my video card to something powerful enough to play Oblivion maxed. That would be the time I'd consider buying NWN2, but it sounds like it suffers from the same claustrophobia as the original. I'll have to try a demo before I'd consider picking it up.

Re:NWN cannot be compared to Baldur's Gate (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199660)

I only played NWN for a total of about 8 hours before giving up on it. It felt way too claustrophobic with the top-down viewing camera.

There was a command you could enter in the game's console to free up the camera so you weren't restricted to a minimum 45 degree angle. It didn't take too long (but longer than you would think, given how obvious it is) that they made this the default behavior with a patch. It's funny because the game actually has a pretty long view distance that allows for some nice scenic views, you just couldn't tell with the stupid original camera behavior.

The expansion packs, which were released after the patch that fixed the camera, made pretty good use of this fact as well. It was designed assuming you could look, you know, straight ahead to see dangers coming up.

If NWN2 lost this behavior, I just have to say they are morons.

Re:New Coke (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198454)

Y'know, every single RPG since BG2 has made me wish somebody would remake the entire BG series in one of these gorgeous new engines with the 3.x rule set. NWN pissed me off so much with its tiny party I never bothered to play it much. KotOR made me long heavily for at least a 6-character party, and more more MORE side quests! The Icewind Dale series, while fun, didn't have the character development of BG2. Ah, well. I don't think anyone will ever top BG2. Now somebody needs to make sure I'm wrong.

Re:New Coke (3, Insightful)

Kentamanos (320208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198704)

FWIW, the number is actually 5 for a large portion of the game (about halfway thru Act 2). The older ones were 6 maximum, correct? In any event, it beats the number NWN1 imposed in the single player campaign ;).

I think there are actually quite a few side quests in NWN2, but none of them feel trivial (they're more like arcs than simple quests). I know a lot of the quests I did seemed completely unrelated to the main quest. A lot of the quests you get from talking to your party members are optional (Neeksha vs. her old thieving partner, Khelgar and the monk quest, Elaine's (sp? druid) quests etc.).

The thing I really liked about the BG and IWD series was the party formations. You put your party in a certain order, and that order dictated the formation everyone was arranged in (you could put tanks at the front, casters in the back). In NWN1/2, it's actually fairly random how your party will arrive at a destination. The formations were nice for performing actions like "move to this doorway".

The party AI in NWN2 sucks though. Most people just put them in "puppet mode" where they don't do anything you don't instruct. Otherwise you'll find yourself asking things like: wizard, why did you just cast Bull's Strength on yourself???.

I haven't finished NWN2 yet (I'm in what I believe is the final act, so guessing I'm at about 80%), but I've really enjoyed it so far. The keep maintenance stuff was cool and the crafting (as limited as it might be) is nice.

Re:New Coke (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199320)

FWIW, the number is actually 5 for a large portion of the game (about halfway thru Act 2). The older ones were 6 maximum, correct? In any event, it beats the number NWN1 imposed in the single player campaign ;).

That's a great relief.

I loved the BG series, in no small part thanks to the detail of the party-joining NPCs and their custom side-quests on my first couple of runs, and the flexibility in building my own power-gaming party on another occasion. I had been looking forward to NWN with great anticipation, yet never got beyond the first few hours of gameplay. An adventurer and random side-kick do not a party make. I've heard good things about the expansion packs, player-written campaigns and DM stuff, but never experienced any of them; I lost interest. If NWN2 offers some party-based game-play with the same kind of visual appeal and detailed character development that underpinned NWN1, it may yet be worth playing...

Re:New Coke (1)

Rapter09 (866502) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198844)

I completely agree with you (well, except on the Oblivion thing, but that's a whole other can of worms)

Baldur's Gate was one of my second D&D experiences. My first was, of course, the tabletop game, played with some friends every lunch hour for awhile in high school. Sadly, we got precious little done but it was fun in its own right when we had nothing else to do. But, regardless, Baldur's Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate II, and Throne of Bhall were a roleplaying celebration. Everything that was right and good with the genre was brought out with the Bhaalspawn saga. It was most assuredly the best RPG I have ever played hands down. Hundereds of hours of gameplay so many things to do and see, so many people to interact with. Bioware just kept raising the bar every single time they released a Baldur's Gate sequel. Everything was just done right. It's a pity that the storyline has ended.

So naturally after somebody completes the true epic that is Baldur's Gate and Bioware announced Neverwinter Nights I was like "holy crap! New engine... new story... bring it on!" But... gosh the game sucked. It was terrible. I don't really give a wooden nickle about the toolsets. They were awesome, assuredly, but when you buy a game you buy it for the campaign and the game itself not for the toolset. At least I do, anyways. The nerfed party system was disappointing. The plot and combat was terrible. I took the plunge with Neverwinter Nights 2 - $60 gone down the drain. I can't play the game. It's just too terrible to even consider looking at.

Whatever happened to the epics? The true RPG experiences that defined a game like Baldur's Gate? I took so many good memories away from playing Baldur's Gate. The game really grabbed you by the collar when it came the story. You really really hated Sarevok, and you really really hated Irenicus and then when Sarevok comes back and he's in your party you were like "holy crap this is awesome!"

I suppose we won't see another D&D RPG with that much soul for awhile.

Re:New Coke (1)

RxScram (948658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199418)

Personally, I think they should remake the "Champions of Krynn" series, from the early 1990's. Although it's been many many years since I've played it, I personally found the story for this series of 3 games to be better than anything that has been made in this century. I would love to see this game either remade, or maybe different games in the DragonLance campaign setting.

Re:New Coke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199682)

It's the toolset, stupid.

Yeah, horrible. (5, Interesting)

RocketScientist (15198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198212)

The camera problems are inexcusable.

The frame rates are atrocious.

The pathing is horrible. The workaround to the horrible pathing is micromanaging every character. I spend so much time in the other characters I spend next to no time trying to get a feel for my own class.

If you're in combat and for whatever stupid pathing reason can't reach your target, you get neither an error message nor any automatic movement.

If your character isn't a healer, you'll have a way harder time advancing since you pick up two damage dealing characters first. Prepare to go through every potion you pick up.

All in all, it's marginally above Bejeweled while I'm waiting for my WoW server to restart.

Re:Yeah, horrible. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198572)

The pathing is rediculous. I agree with you completely there (Why would a character take the long route taking damage through a burning object instead of walking straight ahead?), but...

The only people I ever hear complain about the camera are WoW players. There is nothing wrong with the camera at all. Hold down the middle mouse button and set it how you want. What's the big deal? Indoors it is a little iffy, but not terrible. You're playing multiple characters. not one, so you can't have a chase camera (nor do I see why you'd want one, since that wouldn't give a D&D feel at all).

If you like WoW better, than by all means go play WoW.

Re:Yeah, horrible. (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198594)

I was about to say every one of your comments, minus the one about being a healer because I couldn't stand to play the game long enough to figure that much out. I'd like to add that I was exceptionally annoyed to hear the same old battle cries and sound effects and music as NWN1. I sold NWN2 almost immediately after buying it, and the camera was my primary reason for doing so.

Re:Yeah, horrible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198720)

Well if you can get the game to play, then you might enjoy it. I am still having issues with seeing only a black screen when playing, even with all the settings turned down.

Re:Yeah, horrible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199142)

I had the black-screen issue, too. Upgrade your video drivers- that fixed it for me.

Free healing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199616)

If your character isn't a healer, you'll have a way harder time advancing since you pick up two damage dealing characters first. Prepare to go through every potion you pick up.

Or... you could just (r)est

Personally, I have no trouble getting two fighters first. I've always subscribed to the view that it's better to win faster than lose slower.

Runs like molassas. Looks like ass. (3, Insightful)

Saucepan (12098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199620)

Agreed: horrible. I loved NWN but I couldn't even stand playing NWN2 long enough to get my party to Neverwinter. I've certainly learned my lesson about preordering games based on their reputation.

I have a high-end dual-core PC with GF7900. With all the graphical effects turned up to the max the game looks barely passable for 2006 (except maybe for the terrible textures and icons), but runs like a slideshow, and the cursor lags so it's impossible to click on anything.

With all effects turned off the frame rate is tolerable, but the game looks even worse than the original NWN did -- maybe about as good as Baldur's Gate 2.

And the inventory icons -- how the hell did they manage to screw that up? They are all identically colored and shaped 16-by-16 pixel blobs on a huge ugly grid. I'm just a programmer but even I know that humans recognize icons by their shape and color. How is it possible that their art director wasn't aware of this? (See World of Warcraft for icon-based inventory done right, or just give up and use a list-based system like Oblivion's, which was perfectly acceptable.)

Re:Yeah, horrible. (0, Flamebait)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199646)

Yes, because level grinding in WoW is the paragon of a good story-oriented RPG experience!

Re:Yeah, horrible. (2, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199894)

In terms of the AI, what I really found hard was coming to NWN2 after playing Final Fantasy 12. The general standard of NWN2's AI is shocking. While there are some AI customisation options, most of them don't seem to do much and I found it virtually impossible to set mages to any kind of sensible casting regime. NWN2 desperately needs some kind of equivalent to FF12's Gambit system.

Zork slayed Zonk... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198258)

... an arrow of Zonk-slaying aimed directly at my gamer heart.

I'm sure that's supposed to be "Zork-slaying" for the old timers in the audience.

Re:Zork slayed Zonk... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198344)

Maybe if the submitter was named Zork. However, he is not and you are a idiot.

Re:Zork slayed Zonk... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198462)

Nah... I read the line as "at the gamer heart". I'm not an idiot, I just need glasses. That's what happens when you're an old timer. When I worked in the video game industry for six years, I used to amazed the kids by telling them that I played Pong when it fist came out years before they were born and have them to talk to another old timer who tested games when they were still paper and pen. Those were the days! :P

Re:Zork slayed Zonk... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198658)

The fact that you took the time to post but not the time to check what you read would imply that you are in fact an idiot after all.

Re:Zork slayed Zonk... (1)

Quill (238781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198412)

Posted by Zonk on Monday December 11, @02:14PM

Re:Zork slayed Zonk... (3, Funny)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198652)

Hey, I'm okay with Zonk slaying.

NWN2 fails (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198284)

Many people can't even complete the OC due to crashes and corrupted save files, there are many feats and spells which aren't working or bugged, the need for a downloadable PWC file without in-game support is killing the PW community, and worst.. No linux dedicated server, with hefty requirements for the windows server.

The required memory to host a PW-sized module is in the 4GB range, and modules over 2GB cause the server to crash.

Obsidian claimed they'd have PW support as a priority, but it seems to be just lip service.

Atari released this game before it was ready, and it has nowhere near the polish NWN1 had when it was released.

Sad, sad sad. I pre-ordered it based on years of enjoyment building a PW with NWN1. I'm having to tell my players NWN2 is going to be impossible to work with.

Let's hope Bioware's new project, Dragon Age, is better.

Should be... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198612)

NWN2 was Atari and Obsidian's doing. Atari made some debatable business decisions over something that should have been a TECHNICAL decision and the rest is history. DA looks to be a good game, even if they choose to not do a Linux or MacOS version. I just won't be buying it if there isn't a Linux client, even if unofficial.

Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198358)

Did the author even play Hordes of the Underdark? There were tiefling in that expansion... Honestly, the reviewer comes off sounding like a n00b to NWN. Recommended for everything? Nerdgasm? Give me a break.

Re:Uhh... (1)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200226)

Although no one was still calling it chainmail, I started playing DnD back when they came in colored boxes and you needed to fill in the numbers on your cheap plastic dice with the included crayon. And I accept that since that age there has been a literal deluge of additional books and materials, which make it nigh-impossible for all but the most rabid and die-hard fans to keep track of it all. Even still, Placetouched characters have been around since Advanced D&D, and featured notably in the many Placescape books. The Tiefling [d20srd.org] is also part of the current core rules system, under their Open Game Content license.

Oh God the Camera (4, Interesting)

Iriestx (1033648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198360)

I played the game through the practice quests and found I couldn't take it, simply because of the camera.

The bulk of my play time was spent struggling to get my character from point A to B, or getting the camera to pan, turn or tilt to make quests do-able or npcs viewable.

After the walk through quests I promptly uninstalled the beast from my system and tossed the discs away. All the beautiful scenery, engrossing quests, and amazingly customizable characters in the world won't save a game in which the basic camera and movement control is hosed. Shame on developers to allow the game to ship in this state.

Re:Oh God the Camera (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198606)

There are alternate camera modes, did you give them a try? I found the "close follow" camera works the best, although it's not nearly as close or following as the description says. In general though it was just barely good enough that I don't have to constantly fix the camera like you do with the default mode.

Re:Oh God the Camera (1)

Caged (24585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198678)

Even after the patches and addition of the Chase Cam I too found the camera to be aggravating in the extreme. I ended up uninstalling NWN2 and deleting its' folders within the same day of purchase. Money down the drain. I owned the first NWN and actually quite enjoyed the original (the expansions were 'meh').

My system is certainly no slouch (X2-4600+, 1Gb RAM, 7900GT) yet I find the game sluggish and unresponsive to input.

Give me the original NWN any day.

Re:Oh God the Camera (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199798)

For more single player mileage out of NWN, download the Penultima, Demon, & Shadowlords series of modules. The Endless Nights series is also fairly nice. The Darkness over Daggerford module was supposed to be released as a premium module but instead was released for free. Incredibly polished, it has a true Baldur's Gate / Icewind Dale feel to it. It even has an overland map of the region & random encounters while traveling.

Re:Oh God the Camera (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199582)

OK, I'm confused about all these comments about the camera. I just got the game last weekend, but as far as I can tell, the camera is exactly the same as NWN1, except with a little more control.

Whereas in NWN1 to turn the camera or tilt it up and down, I had to move the mouse to the edge of the screen, or use the PageUp/PageDown buttons, now I just hold the middle button down to move it around. But, the default view, from high up and behind the main character, is exactly the same default view in NWN, isn't it?

Re:Oh God the Camera (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199850)

I've been using the middle button in the manner you've described in NWN for 2 1/2 years now. Windows & Linux.

I found it more enjoyable than this review (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198366)

There are certainly elements in the above review that are valid. A high-end system is required to get good framerates with all the graphics turned on at high resolutions. It's a very modern graphics engine that's designed to last for years to come.

I found that after patch 3 (which just came out last week), many of the technical issues have been taken care of. In terms of the story, the first act is a bit slow, but things pick up considerably in the second act. Obsidian's support post-release has been quite good and there is dedicated staff to support the game after launch, much like Bioware's Live team.

Also don't forget that when you talk about Neverwinter Nights, you're talking about the official campaign. There were literally thousands of modules created for the first campaign and I suspect the second will enjoy a similar popularity. Already I'm finishing up work on the first module of the Dark Waters [adamandjamie.com] campaign, a piratey high-seas adventure. I know of many people planning persistent worlds, mini-games, and more. Give us builders a couple more months to get organized with the new tools and expect some fun stuff to appear.

Re:I found it more enjoyable than this review (4, Informative)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198664)

Yay, patch 3. Pity I probably won't be able to use it, at least not without more work than I care to put into patching a game. For those who haven't played NW2: the publisher has made the bizarre decision to have the ONLY way to patch be with the official patcher. This would be an inconvenient (at times) bit of trivia if the damn thing worked; but as many, many posts on the official forums will attest, it will often error out with little (even if you turn on debug mode in the registry) indication of what went wrong. How, then, did I end up having to patch the game to its current, still-quite-buggy state with patch 2? Well, first I spent a couple hours of attempted workarounds, registry hacks, and various other jury-rigging; then I checked the official forums, and spent another hour trying a number of user-suggested fixes listed there. In the end, I actually had to download a fan made patch program which, combined with direct links to the hidden files the official patcher targets, allowed me to slowly and with much difficulty shoehorn on these updates.

Just exactly WHY they chose to go with this system is a matter of much debate. The optimist in me hopes that they didn't forsee the problems and hoped it would be a convenient solution. However, the realist in me, noticing that there is no official manual patcher or workaround despite many users with unpatchable games, believes it's the other option: their patcher is designed to only patch official versions of the game, and just occasionally misidentifies legitimate copies and quietly refuses to work. That's right, folks: the goddamn PATCH SYSTEM is crippled by anti-piracy measures.

It's a good thing the game sucks balls, or this whole mess would be a real shame.

So far, better than the original! (3, Interesting)

Quill (238781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198400)

I've surely just scratched the surface of the campaign, but I've reached level 9 and have been having a great time of it. My system is far from top-end (AMD 2100, Radeon x300) but I haven't noticed any performance issues and I haven't tweaked any settings.

I can echo the complaint about the camera - it can be a pain to juggle. In NWN, we complained that it was too restricted - in NWN2 it is no longer restricted, but requires a fair bit of shifting to catch everything. Perhaps a more static camera but a game that's designed around it is better?

I made the decision early on to leave the AI characters to themselves as much as possible, and I've been pretty happy overall. As noted in the summary above, they sometimes need babysitting when near traps in dungeons - but I tend to avoid this problem by having that wonderful tielfing rogue scout ahead while stealthed.

As an aside to the discussion of mechanics: I immediately loved the dwarven fighter when we met - he made me literally LOL. And yet, he pales before how fantastic the tiefling rogue is. She is by far the best character in the Baldur's Gate/NWN series. The druid - as in BG - is annoying and was promptly dumped for the aggressive sorceress. She's a bit annoying too, but I can't argue with her effectiveness.

Re:So far, better than the original! (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198500)

Unfortunately, the Elanee (the druid) is your only source of healing until you get the Gith Cleric much later in the game. And I don't think you'd like Qara (the trigger happy sorceress) if you played on D&D hardcore rules (where that damn fireball she over-casts tends to do more damage to your party than to the enemies).

Re:So far, better than the original! (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198660)

Female tiefling rogue? How does she compare to the one in Planescape: Torment?

And oh gee, a dwarven fighter/comedian, an agressive sorceress. Those character archetypes are so hackneyed that they name their voice sets after them. There are dwarven priests, aren't there? Is "gnome" still a playable race? Does the game have a bard that's useful for nothing really more than comic relief? Are the game designers the kind of people who wouldn't ever pick a clearly male portrait for a female character or what?

The main campaign of NWN had some interesting characters--I'll give it that much. I couldn't get past the brutal repetition of the combat, though, and it doesn't sound like this incarnation is any more promising.

Boycott (0, Flamebait)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198404)

There is also a boycott going on since they have effectively eliminated Linux and Mac support for the game and have publicly stated that there will be no version for these platforms. This comes AFTER Linux and Mac gamers kept this game alive and on the shelves LONG after most games have gone the way of the dinosaur. The company that manufactured NWN2 CAN support these platforms with MONO + TAO but refuses to (or doesn't realize it can).
Regardless, I won't be purchased anything from Infogrames, ATARI or any of the other involved companies in this nightmare.

Re:Boycott (4, Informative)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198528)

There is also a boycott going on since they have effectively eliminated Linux and Mac support for the game and have publicly stated that there will be no version for these platforms. This comes AFTER Linux and Mac gamers kept this game alive and on the shelves LONG after most games have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Eliminated ? The engine was rewritten from scratch, with some game logic kept from the original. They didn't eliminate the support because it wasn't there in the first place. As for the fact that Mac+Linux gamer kept it alive, any sources ? I'd argue that there was still more people playing it on Windows near the end of the lifecycle than there was on OSX/Linux.

The company that manufactured NWN2 CAN support these platforms with MONO + TAO but refuses to (or doesn't realize it can).

Where does Mono come in ? People are confused by the fact that the installer bundles .NET 2.0, but this is strictly for the toolset. The game is written in vanilla C++ with DirectX. While OpenGL support would have been an option when they started development, porting now is not viable from a monetary standpoint. Maybe it is from a 'good will' standpoint, but that's another discussion.

Re:Boycott (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199618)

I agree that its too late now and that its not really feasible to port to linux or mac (or at least its not likely). After playing NWN2 for a few hours recently, I don't mind so much. The storyline, as far as I got, bored me. The serious lack of any kind of practical PW makes it a pretty useless game as far as I'm concerned.

As far as linux on NWN: my own personal experience was that I was one of the only people running linux that I ever met on NWN and I played on the same server for about three years. However, a large number of permanent world servers were running the linux version of the server software. I know the one I played on was, and I believe that a fair number of the other ones that are still around were running it too.

Re:Boycott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198540)

nwn2 is written in C/C++. Mono runs .NET bytecode.

Slight difference.

Re:Boycott (1, Informative)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198738)

NWN2 has some .NET dependencies that make it so it can't be ported.

Re:Boycott (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199184)

Why would having .NET dependencies make it so it can't be ported? Heard of Mono? (Open Source .NET Framework that runs on Linux)

Re:Boycott (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200068)

Are you reading the same thread? That was my original point.

Re:Boycott (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200122)

Yeah.... if DirectX counts as a dependency.

The toolset editor is in C#... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200144)

There's little further to say on the subject...

Re:Boycott (2, Funny)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198592)

Heh heh. I guess Linux and Mac owners actually have no choice but to boycott it.

Re:Boycott (4, Funny)

UncleRage (515550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198994)

Actually... boycotting the unobtainable is pretty much an exercise in futility, if you think about it.

Guy: Hey there gorgeous, let's get it on!
Girl: Uhm. I don't think so.
Guy: Well if that's your attitude, I won't have sex with you!
Girl: Exactly.

Re:Boycott (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198996)

Untrue. Alot of Linux users also have Windows machines or dual boot. And now Mac users can dual boot as well.

Just my opinion. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199326)

I'm willing to bet this boycott is about as effective as taking two aspirin for a gunshot wound.

Re:Just my opinion. (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199532)

Considering the fact that the vast majority of NWN players in existence are Linux and Mac users, they just eliminated rollover of the old fan base. I don't know of any company that likes to piss off the old fan base; this would be a first.

Re:Boycott (2, Funny)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198626)

I'm not sure why this is is modded flamebait. This is something that is on a lot of our minds right now. I can't say I'm very pleased that this game didn't receive the port that most of us wanted.

I hope you like stomping bugs (4, Informative)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198448)

There are a number of hideous bugs with this game that, quite frankly, distract almost too much from the overall game. The multiplayer version isn't even playable - as soon as you leave West Harbor to go to the first Tavern, the game immediately crashes. I expect a few bugs to be shipped, but did they even play the game before they shipped?

Another thing they haven't gotten down yet is the spell scaling. I need to manually grab control of my casters every round and tell them what to do (Qara: You have other spells besides Fireball. Elanee: I gave you Natural Spell and Combat Casting for a reason). There's also the issue with modes: If you don't remember activate Combat Casting right away, it will wait until after you've cast your next three spells before arbitrarily deciding to activate it (assuming you're even alive by then).

It's still a fun game, but I'll be even more impressed in a couple of years when Atari and Obsideon finally get the bugs worked out.

decent game (2, Insightful)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198460)

Its just not the type of game that an action craver would get into... Thats why Diablo series was so popular... even though you are just rolling the dice like any other genre like this, you still get the feeling that you are getting in a lot of action as well.

but i'm a solid FPS'er, so don't take my word for it! ;)

AI patch (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198490)

There is an unofficial AI patch for NWN2 that makes your companions considerably less retarded. It's a must install for anybody who wants to use spellcasting classes (like Qara) on the harder modes because otherwise they'll spend most of the fight tossing spells into the middle of your party. It also fixes Neeshka's retarded behavior mostly.

Here's the lowdown on it [bioware.com]

Unfortunatly, there's not much review for the online creation stuff because online play is still quite buggy (even with the enormous patch that came out a few days ago). If they work the bugs out though, it should be quite a good game.

Re:AI patch (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199630)

Oh, thank "Bob". I gave up on the campaign halfway through the 2nd chapter for two reasons... the first was realizing that you wouldn't have a choice about using a longsword as your weapon to finish the game, and the second was the craptastic AI.

Severely disappointed (2, Informative)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198558)

The design of the UI seems better than the original, but the implementation is terrible. Playing felt gave me much the same frustration I used to get from using a mouse with a dirty roller... but there's no way to clean this one.

Also, the frame rates and overall speed were terrible. It's rendering much less than Oblivion and doing it much slower. This is on an Athlon X2 4600 with a 7600GT.

A real bummer, because I had a blast playing NWN coop with a buddy. We were looking forward to this, but as it stands I can't recommend it. Anybody got suggestions for good coop-able RPGs? I am not asking about MMOs, I can't afford that much time, and anyway I can't compete with 12 year olds at games anymore.

Zonk slayer (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198596)

Neverwinter Nights was like an arrow of Zonk-slaying aimed directly at my gamer heart.

And there was much rejoicing and celebration in the hamlet of slashdot, as their foe was finally vanquished.

Re:Zonk slayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199422)

I just wanna know how he became immune to normal arrows... I really don't see why a special arrow is required to kill the uber-nerd that is the slashdot editor.

Not touchin it (1, Insightful)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198628)

I did quite a bit of work with NWN 1 and ran a server for awhile. The module a friend of mine and I created is available for download at http://www.thain.org./ [www.thain.org] That said, I've heard little good about NWN II, with complaints running the gamut from performance issues to camera issues to menu issues (no more right-click->bash for objects), and really dislike the fact that Linux support has been dropped. After hearing all I've heard about NWNII from associates I trust in the area, my work with games is done.

Okay, well, anything Atari has a hand in anyways.

Re:Not touchin it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17198782)

Not sure where you got the no right click bashing thing. It's definitely in there (definitely used it on chests etc., granted you have a chance of breaking items in it).

This might or might not be a coincidence... (4, Funny)

ElMiguel (117685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198654)

But the fortune quote I got at the bottom of the page is: "What a strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Re:This might or might not be a coincidence... (1)

nra1871 (836627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198824)

It's WOPR, not WOP

AI, or lack of thereof, is a game-stopper (1)

sinij (911942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198662)

I played, and tried to enjoy NWN2, but it suffers from unpolished release.

What bugged me most is inability to effectively control your party - you ether micro-manage each character in a pause-every-second while in 'AI-off' mode or enjoy tanks chasing after low-priority targets, clerics trying to melee and casters AoE your entire party. There are no formation movement from BG2 and combat is real-time, where AI, if turned on, will override your orders.

Another problem with NWN2 - camera. It is painfully inadequate and *requires* you to modify .ini files to get it to a state where game can be played.

Last but not least - NWN2 suffers from performance issues. It was choppy in some instances on my top-of-the-line system - a lot of people with slower system reported single-digit FPS and 2+ min level loading times.

Overall - I enjoyed NWN2 but kept wishing they didn't push it out unfinished with included campaign only 2/3 done.

My NWN gripes (1)

codemonkey2841 (873598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198752)

I remember trying out the first NWN and being very excited by the hype I'd heard about it. However, I couldn't handle playing it for more than about 20 minutes before my annoyance at how the camera worked overwhelmed the enjoyment I was deriving from the game. I shelfed the game, playing it only occasionally (since the story and graphics were quite compelling, and I am a total D&D geek). When I tried NWN2 I was disappointed with the same thing. I liked the ability in Baldur's Gate of being able to click on the map and move to the specified location.

no camera trouble ... need better characters (1)

Dillenger69 (84599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198766)

Am I the only one that had no trouble with the camera?
There is one mode that lets it run very similar to NWN1. I just popped it into that and had no trouble at all.

My beef is with the linearity of the game.
There seem to be two paths, Good or Evil.
There also aren't more than a smattering of side quests.
Bauldur's Gate and Planescape Torment are my two favorite in the D&D rules genre. fallout tops the list if you take out the D&D restriction.

My top characters are, Minsk and Boo, Mort, and the Tiefling from PT. Shandra from NWN2 comes close to making the list, but doesn't due to spoilers which won't be mentioned here.

My own thoughts (5, Informative)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198840)

I have such mixed feelings on this game. However, I think I'm now tending over towards the positive end of the spectrum.

If I was reviewing this today, I'd probably rate it at an 8.5/10, or even a 9/10. Had I reviewed it a week or so ago, before the 1.03 patch, I'd have rated it a 6/10 at best. I cannot emphasise enough how much the latest patch has improved the game. The camera is usable now, the worst of the plot-breaking bugs have been fixed and the addition of anti-aliasing has improved the graphics significantly. I'm not saying that all of the issues have been addressed - not by a long stretch - but this now resembles a playable game (a late-beta, maybe) as opposed to the hideous pre-alpha mess that it is out of box.

The system requirements for this game are *harsh*. I've actually had 2 systems to run this on, as I upgraded my PC shortly after buying the game. Before going any further, I should emphasise that I believe "acceptable performance" for an RPG such as this to mean "40 fps or higher". This is, by many standards, a rather forgiving measure.

The first system I ran NWN2 on was a P4 3.4, with 1 gig of RAM and a Radeon x800 Pro. Not exactly a cutting edge system, but certainly a solid enough machine. Performance in 1024x768 full-detail was appalling. Below 10 fps, even in small areas. Only by reducing the detail and view-distance to well below the mid-point could I get acceptable performance.

My new PC is a Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66 ghz, with 2 gigs of RAM and a Gefore 7950 GX2. This manages acceptable performance in 1280x968 full detail the vast majority of the time, but does dip below 40 fps in some of the larger areas when there's a lot going on. In other words, this game is actually *heavier* on the system than Company of Heroes.

However, what you have to bear in mind is that Company of Heroes looks truly spectacular, while NWN2 looks... well... not all that much better than NWN1. If you look closely, you can see where the slowdown is coming from. Some of the models have a ridiculous number of polys. Unfortunately, little has been done from the actual visual design perspective to make them look particularly good, with the effect that they still look angular and stilted, with little realism in their movements.

In terms of environments, things vary dramatically. Some of the outdoor areas do look pretty good, particularly in the game's final chapter. However, all areas, particularly indoor areas, suffer from the same problem as areas in NWN1; as they're all crafted using generic tilesets from the toolset, they're all essentially just the same few graphics repeated over and over. This isn't always obvious outdoors, but it's a bit disappointing when the game's final few dungeons are exactly the same as the first dungeon, just with different lighting. Many of the tilesets aren't even especially pretty. Spell effects are ok and have moved on a bit from NWN1, but they're nothing to write home about. After seeing the explosion effects in Company of Heroes and... well... pretty much anything in Gears of War, this is all a bit flat.

Fortunately, the sound is much better. While the sound effects are largely recycled from NWN1, they are more or less adequate. They're supported by a really great sound-track and voice-acting that ranges from the inoffensive to the truly stellar.

Now, the gameplay...

This is where things start getting a bit more positive. The initial release was crippled by numerous UI frustrations and a near-unusable camera. However, the 1.03 patch massively improves things here, allowing the player to focus on the actual game.

Character generation is excellent, with a huge range of customisation options. More classes and races are available than in any previous installment and your choices at this point will have major consequences later. It would have been nice to have more control over how your other party members develop as they level up, for example in giving them prestige classes, but this is a fairly minor gripe.

The return to full control over a party is welcome. The core party is initially just 4 characters, including the main character, but numerous guest characters outside of this count are present for much of the game, while the limit is expanded to 5 characters in the third and final chapter. After the crippled henchman system of NWN1, this is a welcome return to the spirit of the old Baldur's Gate games.

Sadly, party control is frustrated somewhat by the game's truly dismal AI for friendly characters. Even basic path-finding is a major challenge for the moronic AI. In battle, characters will, if left to their own devices, stand around picking their nose, chase after an illogical target, waste all of their spells at the start of a battle and fail to use healing spells in an even vaguely effective way. Fortunately, there is a puppet-mode option which switches off all combat AI and leaves everything to the player. Most players will find themselves using this for every character bar straight melee jobs.

Difficulty levels are pretty well pitched. The normal difficulty setting proved challenging but not frustrating for this rather rusty RPG gamer. The more advanced skill settings provide a decent challenge for those who take these things more seriously. In this age of checkpoint systems, it is a blessed relief to have a game that allows fully unrestricted saving and quicksaving.

The game world is huge and players relatively quickly get a lot of freedom to explore it. The main quest is extremely long and there is a huge number of subquests, not all of which will be open to all characters, adding serious replay value. While most "choice" in the game is an illusion, with the broad plot moving along the same lines whatever the player's actions, there are sections with significant plot branches for good and evil. However, I do get the impression that this would not be an easy or particularly fun game to play as an evil character. As usual, in these games, it seems to be set up to give good-aligned characters far more options and fun stuff to play with.

And there is a *lot* of fun stuff to play with. Earlier BG and NWN games have had some strange situations, where your high-levelled saviour-of-the-world character is still treated like dirt by town guards and forced to sell rat tails to afford equipment. Not so in NWN2. As you get further into the game, you get command over a keep and rise through the ranks of the nobility, gaining the ability to give orders to other characters and even play a mini economic-management game as you rebuild your keep. The reactions you receive from those around you change accordingly.

Finally, characters are a real high-point of this game. NWN1 lacked any memorable characters at all and this was only partially corrected in the expansions. After the legendary Baldur's Gate characters (Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!), this was a major disappointment. Fortunately, NWN2's characters are far, far more entertaining. Few of them represent the usual hackneyed fantasy stereotypes and some of them are more closely linked with the Planescape setting than with the Forgotten Realms (indeed, the events of Planescape: Torment are referenced repeatedly in NWN2). With the addition of a couple of utterly mad characters, there's lots of fun to be had here.

In short, as I think the article itself made out, this is a truly excellent game, which is somewhat crippled by a poor engine and interface and some nasty bugs.

Good News and Bad News for Mac Users (1)

Spencerian (465343) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198908)

The good news, of course, is that Intel-equipped Mac users may not be totally left out with the use of Boot Camp to install Windows XP as a dual-boot configuration for your Mac. If you have an Intel Mac with a robust video configuration (that's MacBook Pro and Mac Pro, and perhaps Intel iMacs), then you can play the game.

Don't bother trying with MacBooks or other systems with Intel GMA video. The game will install, sure enough, but will die when you launch it and attempt to initiate DirectX support that doesn't exist in these systems. I tried. Gods know I tried. (sniff)

This game has a ridiculous graphic overhead as well as a piss-poor design in comparison to NWN1 in terms of portability. It's really as if no one cared. It's still pretty to look at, although one can say the same about someone like Pam Anderson--the smart ones won't touch her, however.

I look forward to playing it, still, once I build a new PC (that is, accost someone in an alley, loot them and sell their XBox, Zune, PS3 and Hello Kitty backpack).

What an ending SPOILER (1)

creaney (1038596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198912)

I recently completed the campaign and I found chapters one and two to be amazing (plot wise anyway) however the last chapter drops the ball. It could be described accurately as two hours of buildup and two minutes of anti-climax, battles which were alluded to from halfway through chapter two ended in five minutes and were exceptionally easy to complete. Nothing new was added in the third chapter, opponents you were fighting from level 1 were just thrown at you in ever increasing numbers and it was all strung together with couple of slideshows to explain what was going on and why. To be fair Neverwinter Nights 2 has some large clichés but did they have to turn the king into an endurance test? Repeatedly killing it then smashing up the room is an ending I have seen a thousand times before which I thought could not make it any worse until I watched the ending slideshow.

The biggest problem: the pacing (1)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198952)

As a late-twenties nerd with fond memories of many a college weekend spent with the tabletop D&D variants, my biggest problem with NW2 (after about 3-4 hours of play, which was all I could stomach) is the pacing. Not in terms of script or anything like that; I mean more in terms of the overall flow of combat. With things happening in realtime - and yes, I know I can pause - and with throwaway wilderness or dungeon battles around every turn, no matter how closely the rules mirror the tabletop version, it's not going to FEEL like pizza-and-coke-and-DM-mat fridays. In a five hour session with the original, we'd only see maybe 3 or 4 smaller battles, each one difficult, unique, and requiring clever solutions and some lucky rolls to survive. There was no such thing as multiple random packs of three wolves in a field because that'd be boring as hell to handle, and the DM just wouldn't bother. I guess I'm lamenting a carefully crafted turn-based structure designed for intricate set-piece scuffles being shoehorned onto a basic top-down hack-and-slash, really. Toss around electronic dice rolls and carefully crafted rulesets mirroring the original all you want; if I'm spending most of my time letting the ai just swing at random mob #372, it's not going to feel like D&D.

By the same token, the "rest anytime out of combat" idea is incredibly detrimental to the whole affair. In the tabletop version, we'd maybe get 1 or 2 rest stops in a nightly session, and as a wizard, trying to predict what spells you'd be using the next day was a major undertaking. Here, once the last enemy in a group falls, click a button and wait 5 seconds; all your spells come rushing back. I suppose it's a necessity with the aforementioned combat-heavy exploration, but it plays havok with class balance (a warrior is no match for a wizard when the wizard gets to enter every combat with a full complement of spells) and even further serves to alienate the CRPG from its pen-and-paper predescessor.

I'm not sure I could really describe a computer game that could accurately depict a real D&D session; but if it DID exist, it would look little like this attempt. NW2 (and NW1, for that matter) attempt to be both an electronic version of a pen-and-paper RPG and a serviceable, fast-paced action game in a fantasy setting. Ultimately, it falls flat on its face in both arenas. Baldur's Gate, by sticking closer to the action side of things and tweaking the rules away from the original wherever it seemed necessary, managed to produce the latter of these two extremes with much more success. I've never seen any computer game come close to succeeding in an accurate portrayal of the tabletop game, though I don't want to discourage companies from continuing to try; if someone actually DID manage to balance it right, with all turn-based action and little or no battles that weren't just throwaway scuffles, it could be something truly fantastic.

Re:The biggest problem: the pacing (0)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199738)

I'm sure you're also very upset with the home version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" because it includes neither Regis Philbin nor $1,000,000.

You can't expect the video game to exactly mimic your pen and paper experiences.

Obsidian 0 for 2 (4, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198968)

I have a bad feeling about Obsidian's future. This is the second game they've released with severe playability issues for many people (and a seeming lack of strong QA KOTOR2 also had tons of bugs. I couldn't even finish the PC version because of a CTD, even on a clean Windows and driver install.). Whether this has been because of publishers rushing them (which was the big rumor over KOTOR2), Obsidian still runs the risk of struggling as a company if they continue to down this path (whether its their fault or not, sadly.)

I've spent multiple hundreds upgrading my PC this year and can run Quake 4, FEAR, Company of Heroes, etc wonderfully. But I've uninstalled NWN2 because it ran for crap and more recently I was running into an inability to patch to current (FFS release a standalone .exe!). The help I received on the forums (From Obsidian people) was "Try reinstalling."

Try releasing useable software.

So Sad (2, Interesting)

Penguin's Advocate (126803) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199008)

I'm really sad about NWN2. I was really excited about it. I pre-ordered the collectors edition, and went to get it on launch...and there was already an 87MB patch out for it... I expected the actual game to be pretty average (in terms of story), which it is; but I also expected the engine and toolset to be really spectacular (which they are not). The 1.02 patch entirely broke the game for me, such that it would not even load, the 1.03 patch has made it playable again, but the engine has not gotten much better. My system is well beyond decent, it's almost brand new, high end, designed specifically for gaming...I spent a good deal of time and money putting it together...and NWN2 is sluggish, at best. I tend to run games with maxed settings at 1600x1200, and have never had a problem before. My system doesn't struggle with any other games. I can run HL2, Civ 4, and WoW with all settings maxed at the same time and swap between them...I stop every unnecessary process on my machine when I'm playing NWN2...and I still have to turn the settings down...and it's still sluggish. Oblivion doesn't have these problems. Sure it doesn't run too well on the 360 (and excusing their god-awful character animation), but on my machine it runs just fine with everything maxed, I never drop below 60FPS....With NWN2 I tend to get around 16. Something is very wrong with the engine. It's like they didn't profile it at all. Building for machines that don't exist yet is one thing...this is far worse. The toolset is pretty bad too. I had to go online and find a bunch of plugins just to get it to be as functional as the NWN toolset. With the NWN toolset, I just sat down and started making things, it was pretty intuitive and it made sense. There is NOTHING intuitive about the NWN2 toolset. I had so much hope for this game, but unless they really make some changes in future patches I don't see it getting much better. I'm still hoping though. And I did actually play through the entire game despite my irritation. Please Obsidian, fix this thing.

Re:So Sad (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200252)

Wierd. For reference, I have a Pentium D 3.0, 2gigs of ram, SB Audigy2, Geforce 7600GT and have none of the problems you describe. I run in 1280x1024 most options turned on and get more than 14fps. None of the patches have broken the game for me. I run it on Win2k, but my housemate runs essentially the same machine with onboard sound under Xp and has had no issues either.

Both of these machines were purchased 6 months ago for around $1200AU, they didn't exactly break the bank and are by no means "high end"...

NWN1 was a bit sluggish on common machines when it was released, too. I must admit i haven't messed with the toolset yet, so on that I can't comment.

Something wrong with your box, perhaps? Driver peculiarity somewhere?

Just like NWN... (2, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199076)

... it's going to suck until they release two expansions & "borrow" a lot of custom content from players. Oh yeah, good luck running an immersive Persistent Online World with it. I was thinking about converting the PW I run to NWN 2 but realized that the average area size was around 15MB which would in turn put the NWN2 version of the my module up around 5GB in file size. Sorry, but I don't feel like buying $3000 in hardware to run a game server.

Oh yeah, the DM client also crashes the server upon entry. Way to go.

Good review, but bad history lesson (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199080)

"This is the same region of the Forgotten Realms that played host to every other D&D CRPGs you've played"

Pools of Radiance was in Phlan and Hillsfar was in... well... Hillsfar. Neither of these are along the Sword Coast. They're east of Cormyr even. I'm pretty sure that Secret of the Silver Blades as more inland as well.

Re:Good review, but bad history lesson (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200156)

They're (Dragonlance games) both in Krynn, a completely different game world. Temple of Elemental Evil was also in another world (Greyhawk) and the Dark Sun games are set in well... teh Dark Sun world :D

NWN2 points... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199140)

The camera is the absolute worst implementation that I've ever had the misfortune of having to use in a game. The only other game that I've heard of with similar camera complaints would be the mess that is Mage Knight Apocalypse. (I still can't get over the fact that some people paid $50 for that POS!) The camera is so bad to me, that I almost stopped playing because of it.

Graphics: If you have your camera zoomed out to the max, like I do most of the time, the graphics look identical to NWN1 for the most part. It is only when you zoom in for closeups of characters, buildings, etc. that the improved graphics become apparent. Toss into this that Obsidian re-used ALOT of old Bioware assets, especially the background scenery stuff like market stalls, etc. All options maxxed. Still suffer from occasional slowdowns here as well, on a not too shabby system.

Sound: OK. Most of the new sounds are for the new campaign. Almost everything else is, again, re-used ancient(some from BG1) sounds, effects, and voices.

Cutscenes: OMFG! Could they have packed any more gratuitously useless cutscenes into this game?! WAY too many cut scenes, which really offer nothing to the story, and only serve to slow the already slow pace of the game.

Dialog choices: From testing a few times, it would appear that most dialog choices all end up with the same last 2 or 3 "screens" of text. At most you'll gain/lose influence with various party members.

Act I has the worst pacing of the campaign so far for me. (Part way through Act II.) Levelling is a little too quick IMO as well, as I ended up Act I at c. level 11 or 12...

It's a good thing that this game has a construction set, and online play potential, but I'd stay away from it unless you are RPG starved(G3 would be a better buy short term) or REALLY love AD&D.

Clarification note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199246)

Good to see a review for a PC game here.

Also, Obsidian doesn't have much to do with Torment, they simply have Torment's lead designer on staff.

I was excited about NWN2... (1)

SimDarth (975287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199252)

but then I read the comments and reviews which all pointed in the same direction as this thread. I'm glad I bought M2:TW this weekend instead. Hopefully, we will see some good patches for NWN2 that will restore the franchise's honor.

NWN2: another perspective... (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200140)

I've been playing this game pretty hard in the past couple of weeks - and I too, was initially slightly disappointed, for about the first 4 hours.

However, the first couple of patches have made some worthwhile fixes, and the more you play, the "less bad" it becomes. I'm actually enjoying it, and have put more time into this game than anything else other than Falcon4: Allied force, and the original NWN in the past 12 months.

The biggest disappointments in my opinion are 1) the manual and 2) the ditching of the radial menus and changing how the quickbar works. However, give it a few hours to get used to, and figure out a few of the quirks that you may miss from a skim of the manual (such as the requirement to HOLD DOWN right-mouse to get the menu up, rather than just click) and the quirks become less of an issue. They're more of a "but NWN1 did it differently" issue than anything else.

The graphics are much improved over NWN - the second patch contains a few speed-ups that make a noticable difference to frame-rate. The campaign is a million times better than the original (think: baldurs gate in NWN+ engine). The toolset is still there. The game definately feels slightly rushed (perhaps to get it out before christmas) but its good to see that at least the patches are regular and beneficial - and I haven't had it crash yet, at least.

What I'm saying is that if you're a D&D fan, give it a shot, and keep in mind that it may take a couple of hours of fumbling around lost (if you played NWN) to get "into" it.

Junk it! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199374)

NWNII reeks of big corporate popular name cash cow milking, the 14 hour game play turnaround for maximum repeat $60 a pop MBA, sucker wallet fishing. It's the same marketing hype, tastes great, less filling, mile wide and inch deep, fool you out of your money grift game so prevalent these days. In my opinion, NWNII lives fast and will leave a beautiful corpse after its owners run laughing to the bank at your expense.
I recommend waiting a year for the modders to fix it and the price to drop to $19.99.

Re:Junk it! (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199870)

How the hell did you complete this game in 14 hours? At the 14 hour point, I was only coming to the end of chapter 1 (of 3) and I'm fairly sure I missed a good amount of optional stuff. This is a huge game and my first-playthrough completion time was about 52 hours. That's more or less exactly the same as the time I put into Final Fantasy 12 and that had a lot more grinding for xp, as opposed to actually doing fun and interesting quests.

There are many grounds you can criticise NWN2 on, but I don't see how length can possibly be one fo them. $60 for a 50+ hour game (with serious replay value) doesn't strike me as bad value.

How about a link??? (2, Informative)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199564)

Holy crap! That has to be the longest article I've ever seen on Slashdot that didn't contain a single link [atari.com] .

From the exploding-head-department-department (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199864)

lich-loved-templated-dire-vampiric-badger?

If Zonk is a DM, I feel sorry for his players. Actually, I feel sorry for any player whose DM decides that particular undead aberration is worth a try.

Baldurs Gate 3 Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17199922)

Don't get me wrong, so far Neverwinter Nights 2 is one of the most enjoyable games I've played in months. But it certainly does have problems. Bad AI, Bugs, and the occasional terrible dungeon that feels like a bad Diablo 2 area don't help it.If a company could take the Baldurs Gate formula and just make it 3d I'd buy it right away.
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