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Role Playing (Games)

Neverwinter Nights 2 Review 282

Posted by Zonk
from the like-facing-down-a-lich-loved-templated-dire-vampiric-badger dept.
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.
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Neverwinter Nights 2 Review

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  • New Coke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by COMON$ (806135) * on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:16PM (#17198146) Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mordors9 (665662)
      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.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:29PM (#17198340) Homepage
      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.
      • by COMON$ (806135) *
        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 Fant
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by moranar (632206)
          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.

        • The reason that there isn't a toolset for the BG series is that all of the terrain artwork is hand painted and static. With NWN, you can build your own worlds lego-style, although the drawback is that all areas tend to look the same (unless you are very talented with your placeable placing skills). NWN2 attempts to alleviate this by using a freeform terrain editor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Froboz23 (690392)
        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 Morrowin
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday December 11, 2006 @04:03PM (#17199660) Homepage
          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Das Modell (969371)

        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.

        I've never understood this line of thinking. Nobody reviewed Half-Life 2 by saying "the singleplayer campaign sucks, but Valve Hammer Editor is awesome, so I'm giving this 10/10." NWN's editing tools are absolutely no different from the editing tools of other games, yet they're always granted a special status for some re

        • I've never understood this line of thinking. Nobody reviewed Half-Life 2 by saying "the singleplayer campaign sucks, but Valve Hammer Editor is awesome, so I'm giving this 10/10." NWN's editing tools are absolutely no different from the editing tools of other games, yet they're always granted a special status for some reason.

          Well, since you missed the entirety of what my post was about, the reason NWN's tools are different is because they not only let you create your own "maps" just like every other toolset
    • by Cerberus7 (66071)
      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kentamanos (320208) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:55PM (#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.
      • 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 antic

    • by rho (6063)

      What made NWN worthwhile to me was the multi-player. I could get together with my old game-playing friends for a couple of hours a week. In that instance, requiring a large party and dozens of side-quests just makes it harder to have a good time. In fact I started working on a set of "Instant Action" modules for NWN1 that kept gameplay down to a single quest with a single significant treasure at the end, encounters prepared with a balanced party in mind, with gameplay time kept to an hour or two because tha

    • by rouge86 (608370)
      Actually, I feel that the play style reminds me a lot of Baludrs Gate 2. I have played BG2 to extremes as well as Neverwinter nights. The flow of the game reminds me a lot of the elements that I liked in BG2. Like BG2, you get your own stronghold based upon how you play the game. I keep remaking my chracter, because I am looking for the sweet spot when it comes to game play, which is whatever entertains me the most. At current, I am an eldritch knight with 5 levels of wizard. I think that NWN2 is prob
    • Re:New Coke (Score:5, Informative)

      by nick_davison (217681) on Monday December 11, 2006 @06:09PM (#17201332)
      I loved the big parties (which was axed in NWN1 and brought back to a whopping 4 in NWN2).

      That's actually remarkably easy to fix:

      ~
      DebugMode 1
      rs ga_party_limit(6)
    • by tezbobobo (879983)
      You are correct. It was the dynamics of character control.
  • Yeah, horrible. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RocketScientist (15198) * on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:20PM (#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.

    • by ivan256 (17499)
      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 (no
      • The only people I ever hear complain about the camera are WoW players.

        WoW players complain because they know what a good camera is.

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

        Yeah, because obviously games consist of nothing but the camera, everything else is irrelevant.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RogueyWon (735973) *
      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.
    • by Nasarius (593729)
      What's with all the new "AAA" games that run like crap and/or look like crap on any system more than a year old? Oblivion, NWN2, the new Total War games (even in map mode), Company of Heroes, etc. Whatever happened to the idea of a scalable graphics engine, or just plain good code design? Dear game developers: if your game is halfway decent, nobody gives a shit that you haven't used all the latest masturbatory DirectX features to make everything extra shiny. Oh, and could you make memory usage slightly less
  • NWN2 fails (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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 jus
    • 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.
      • by kalirion (728907)
        Atari again? Didn't they learn their lesson with the Temple of Elemental Evil, a game that could have taken legendary status if not for all the bugs (ok, it was quite short as well).
  • Oh God the Camera (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iriestx (1033648) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:30PM (#17198360) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:48PM (#17198606) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by pluther (647209)
      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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jandrese (485)
        The biggest complaint is that the camera by default doesn't turn to face the direction you're going, so you spend a tremendous amount of time just turning the damn thing so you're not running straight at the camera. It also tends to get lodged behind walls and in decorations far too easily indoors. I find it difficult to strike a good balance between overhead and over the shoulder views too, especially when you're looking out for traps and spawns but want to also keep tabs on where your NPCs are (oh look,
      • A very recent patch just fixed the camera to be much closer to NWN. Prior to that patch, the camera was *appalling*, and it was more work to get a decent viewing point than it was to play the encounters. How such an terrible camera system made it past beta, I can't imagine. Indeed, I don't understand why they chose to change something that certainly wasn't broken in NWN. Regardless, I suspect pre-patch camera issues are what most people are referring to. Personally, I own NWN2 but decided not to play i
    • by doti (966971)

      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.

      That's when open source comes into play:
      If the source of the engine is free, but the game data is not, they can still sell the game.
      It will have a better chance of becoming popular too, and if this is the case, it will became a better product (people will easily fix stupid things like this camera problem, and possibly improve it), and they will save on code maintenance.

      The same goes for hardware, like cellphones, digicams, etc.

  • 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
    • by MWoody (222806) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:52PM (#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.
    • 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 know the game has all this fancy lighting and shadows that I can't turn up else my FPS drops to 5, but as far as appearance, I think the game really only looks good zoomed out. I run at 1600x1200 and the textures are noticeably lower res during the close up cine

  • by Quill (238781) <[moc.hcetlamis] [ta] [nitram]> on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:31PM (#17198400) Homepage
    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.
    • 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).
      • by jandrese (485)
        The other fun thing is to have your party die and look at Elanee's spell list and notice that she still has all of her heals ready to go. The AI really hates to cast heals; it'd rather spend it's time casting every single buff spell, from Bulls Strength, to Cats grace on Elanee. Fortunatly, the AI patch I mentioned elsewhere can fix a lot of this behavior. Imagine the shock you'll feel when Cassovir uses Lay on Hands in battle?
    • 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?
  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:36PM (#17198448) Journal
    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.

    • by smash (1351)
      Multiplayer problems? I've played multiplayer exclusively (local LAN only, admittedly) since release and had zero problems. It actually surprised me how stable MP was, considering to the other issues the game has/had out of the box...
  • decent game (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One (591287) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:37PM (#17198460) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:40PM (#17198490) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by KillerBob (217953)
      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.
      • It's not a long sword but a universal sword that anyone can equip. And you don't have to use it to beat the game. You can throw it in your inventory and forget about it.
        • by KillerBob (217953)
          Actually... there's an object you can't kill without the sword, but that you have to kill in order to finish the game.

          Oh, and the ending sucked. Royally.
  • by straponego (521991)
    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 s

  • Zonk slayer (Score:5, Funny)

    by dangitman (862676) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:48PM (#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.

  • by ElMiguel (117685) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:52PM (#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."
  • My own thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Monday December 11, 2006 @03:06PM (#17198840) Journal
    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
  • 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 doe
  • 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,
    • by Nasarius (593729)
      Did you play Ultima Online at its 1998-2000 peak? That's the closest I've come to a CRPG that felt like something more than a computer game. If you were lucky enough to be on the same shard as a large group of dedicated roleplayers, the possibilities were almost endless. In the single-player realm, Darklands and Daggerfall both contain hints at something greater. Especially Darklands. If you've never played it, I absolutely recommend downloading it from HOTU [the-underdogs.info]. I could rave for paragraphs about its uniqueness
  • Obsidian 0 for 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aztektum (170569) on Monday December 11, 2006 @03:15PM (#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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    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
    • by smash (1351)
      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

  • Just like NWN... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771)
    ... 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 ent
  • How about a link??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Monday December 11, 2006 @03:57PM (#17199564) Homepage
    Holy crap! That has to be the longest article I've ever seen on Slashdot that didn't contain a single link [atari.com].
  • Not enough has been said about the ending to the game, which nearly tops KOTOR2 in terms of how awful it is.

    Not only is it a slideshow of badly pixelated graphics...

    Not only does it feature "Jim from the mail room" doing audio instead of a voice actor...

    But it manages to pull in the DM cliche of all cliches - Rocks fall, everybody dies.

    http://www.gamegrene.com/node/714 [gamegrene.com]
  • My $125 graphics card can handle it with everything but shadows cranked up on a 3200+.

    Set camera to top-down, zoom out, turn all spellcasters onto complete manual control. If you pause before encounters and queue up what you need, generally you're set for the battle. If it gets too much for you, crank down the difficulty a bit and play it with only one or two characters.

    Personally, it's the best single-player I've played in a long, long time. I can understand where people wouldn't like it though, especial
  • Heart? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dcam (615646) <david&uberconcept,com> on Monday December 11, 2006 @06:12PM (#17201384) Homepage
    Neverwinter Nights was like an arrow of Zonk-slaying aimed directly at my gamer heart.

    It hit you in the Wii?
  • by ShakaUVM (157947)
    NWN1 was so buggy in multiplayer (your cohort would attack YOU to the exclusion of everything else!) that I ended up snapping the CD in frustration. Never again, Bioware, will I fall for that trick.

    My friend bought NWN2 and decided to stop playing it until they, you know, finish the game.
  • by Etyenne (4915) on Monday December 11, 2006 @07:38PM (#17202320)

    Then get going, create an account on the Atari forum and voice your dissatisfaction [ataricommunity.com]. Quite frankly, the probability that we get a Linux port is paper-thin, but it does'nt hurt to get counted.

  • I actually enjoyed NWN2 more than any CRPG I've played since Knights of the Old Republic, but that's not to say it doesn't have a lot of rough patches.

    The storyline and shipping campaign are absolutely massive and detailed, there are tons of side quests, the story is really interesting once you get to Neverwinter, your actions have a pretty huge cumulative effect on the world so there's high replay value... I hit about 100 hours of playtime to finish the game, and I had an absolute blast once I decided the
  • Multiplayer woes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fanblade (863089)
    I bought this game as soon as it came out, and yes, I noticed many bugs at first. At least patches can fix that. My biggest gripe is with the entire multiplayer gameplay system. Never before have I had so much trouble playing a multiplayer computer game. Four of us got together for a LAN party and immediately started frusting each other to the point where one of us just up and left.

    One example: if one member of your party starts a conversation with someone a mile away, everyone else's screen is suddenly use

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