Get out your monster guides, DM handbooks, and twenty sided dice, and then throw them out the window. [i]Dungeons and Dragons[/i] once again makes its way to your computer with the release of [i]Neverwinter Nights 2[/i]. The first [i]Neverwinter Nights[/i] delivered an excellent single player campaign, but moreover, it offered a toolset that let the community create its own role-playing or hack-and-slash worlds to be shared with their friends. Obsidian takes over development from mega award winning uber developer Bioware. Could Obsidian take the franchise and run, or would they fall flat on their face? Depends on whom you ask.
[heading]Two types of people to please.[/heading]
There are two types of people whom [i]Neverwinter Nights[/i] appealed to. You had people who wanted a [i]Dungeons and Dragons[/i] experience to play by themselves, with a rich storyline full of dungeon crawling, riddles, and a little bit of hack-and-slash (err a whole lot). Then you had those people who wanted to birth their own realm, invite their friends to play, and then take the game to a whole new direction.
Let’s not beat around the bush; [i]NWN 2[/i] offers a cinematic experience much like [i]Knights of the Old Republic[/i]. Your main conversations happen in cut scenes, you experience the drama of well-done storytelling, and your character interacts with the world and your companions brilliantly.
On the other hand, bringing a friend along to enjoy the campaign co-operatively is a mess. Because of the nature of the storytelling and cut scenes, whoever instigates a conversation will interrupt whatever the other co-op players are doing. If one player enters a house, all enter the house; it’s annoying and downright unplayable. Don’t have friends that want to play with you is really the bottom line. If you’re going solo, you should enjoy your experience; it’s worthwhile.
[heading]More the same, which isn’t a bad thing.[/heading]
[i]NWN 2[/i] has had a graphical overhaul, but much of the original is reused. The same sound effects, voices, and music are all repeated and very noticeable. New to the game are the subraces and stat adjustments right from character creation. Like in all [i]DnD[/i] games, you build your player, select a class, and then adjust your stats. In this rendition of NWN, you have more flexibility in what your character looks like and his subclass (for instance Drow get bonuses but level very slowly) among many other benefits from rulebook 3.5. It’s a deeper experience than its previous installment.
The gameplay is not changed much- you take quests and get henchmen, whom you can control and level grind. Gone is the clicking system from [i]NWN 1[/i]; the circular right click is gone in exchange for a more drop-down method. While you get used to it, the old system is very intuitive and easy; I wish they would have kept it.
All and all the game is familiar territory. Find dungeon, battle out the baddies, get your new gear, and level up. A fun formula in its simplicity, but thanks to the stat masters that are DnD, leveling up and customizing your character is a unique experience; you have total control of how you build and role-play and affect your companions.
[heading]Satisfactory, but under delivered – Obsidian M.O.[/heading]
Obsidian has under delivered on the multiplayer aspect of the game. The DM client is in beta and pretty much rendered useless at the time this review is written. One of the main aspects that made [i]NWN 1[/i] so ground breaking was the ability to run a plot for your friends. You could really take advantage of the community that made their own modules, and have a Dungeon Master create interaction between players.
While I was most anticipating this aspect of the game, I will have to wait longer. Once again I only question why the release was done when this game is half complete. Make no mistake about it-[i]Neverwinter Nights[/i] is about both the single player campaign and the ability to play with friends.
Obsidian is getting a bad rap, which is unfortunate because they are very talented. Either way the single player experience alone is worth the cost; it’s a well made game, but do not expect to throw out [i]NWN 1[/i] just yet. It’s the only way to get your role-play online for the time being. Personally I don’t expect many development dollars to be spent to see the DM Client finished to the satisfaction of the community. That is a sad state of affairs indeed.