[Game review] Neverwinter Nights 2One glance at Neverwinter Nights 2 reveals just how far computerized roleplaying has come. The first 3D Bioware RPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe of Forgotten Realms (home of such past treats as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale), Neverwinter Nights 2 combines everything that made Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic RPGs so enjoyable with the best parts of the original king of the pen and paper RPG.
This is quite simply the most faithful graphical, computerized translation of the Dungeons & Dragons experience ever made ― including the recent Dungeons & Dragons Online. Every single one of the classic character classes is represented, even bards and monks, with an additional class ― the warlock ― and scores of the original elite classes to choose from when your character gains in power and prestige, including the assassin, the archmage, the arcane trickster and a couple of new, campaign-specific classes. That means there will be one or two obvious choices for advancement no matter which base class you choose. Spellbooks, skills and feat lists are similarly exhaustive, with each skill playing an admirably large part in the main story line, or campaign ― diplomacy, for instance, is a lifesaver.
Character creation is extremely detailed, with background feats a new addition, though more freedom in changing your character’s physical appearance would have been nice.
The included campaign is a lot of fun. You play a country hick who got a magical sword stuck inside you when you were a baby and must now fight the evil King of Shadows. A fun addition is that as you progress upward in the noble ranks, you earn land and the right to rule a portion of the kingdom, raise an army, tax your peasants and recruit villagers, farmers, artisans, sergeants and merchants. Yet the storyline is derivitive. Surely a system as advanced as this is capable of relating a narrative with some sort of fundamental meaning other than the cliche “hero fated for greatness achieves greatness?”
But that’s a problem you can rectify with the included mod-building toolset and DM client, which give every owner of the game the chance to create and run their own computerized, 3-D Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It can be complicated and a basic knowledge of XML is almost required for a mod of any depth, but a helpful online community from the first game is already on hand to solve problems.
Speaking of which, the game shipped with many bugs, and so your first step should be to download the latest patch. A few issues remain, but a cliched overarching plot doesn’t keep this from being the most involving and addictive one-player RPG of the year.
Neverwinter Nights 2
Rating: ★★★★:Solid entertainment, especially for fans of the genre.
By Ben Applegate Contributing Writer [email@example.com]