Neverwinter Nights 2 is a role-playing game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Atari. It is the sequel to BioWare's Neverwinter Nights, a successful game based on the Dungeons & Dragons system. While Neverwinter Nights was based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rules, Neverwinter Nights 2 is based on Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition rules (also known as the Revised 3rd Edition), changed to adapt to real-time gameplay.
The main plot of Neverwinter Nights 2 centers around a powerful force of evil named the King of Shadows and an artifact that can ultimately defeat the arch-foe. Your character starts in West Harbor - 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) It's a pretty peaceful place until the King of Shadows messes it up. Your character is caught up in the attack and has to survive through the assault. The events in West Harbor bring the village, and your character, to the attention of Lord Nasher in Neverwinter. He is concerned by the King's attack, and soon the player will be swept up in a storm of political intrigue and moral struggles through the Forgotten Realms.
The singleplayer campaign is divided into three large Acts. The Acts are huge, comprised of several modules each. I completely forgot the game is split into acts when after quite a way through, I was suddenly on Act II, and here was me thinking I was coming to the end! :-) The other thing is that the campaign is linear - both in terms of the story progression and the area layout. The plot itself offers very little in the way of freedom or variation, and even some of the maps are blatant handholds that only offer one way to proceed through hordes of unavoidable enemies. Some dialogues and situations you could use to avoid combat and glean information are present and the majority is well done. It's a shame that in a game that is supposed to be a role-playing game, such options are so rare, and that most everything is solved by straight-up combat. Of course, there are a few puzzles that suggest non-linearity, but for the overwhelming majority of the time all you need to do is talk to a few people and move to different areas and you will get through the main quest in 60 hours. There is also a world map, and you can revisit old areas, but Neverwinter Nights 2 never approaches the open-ended epic feel of a Baldurs Gate type game.
Playing Neverwinter Nights 2 is very similar to the original in terms of character creation, advancement and progression through the story. You create a character based on all of the usual D&D characteristics - gender, race /Human, Planetouched (Aasimar / Tiefling), Elf (Dark Elf, Moon Elf, Sun Elf, Wood Elf), Dwarf: (Shield Dwarf, Gold Dwarf, Gray Dwarf), Gnome: (Deep Gnome, Rock Gnome), Halfling (Lightfoot Halfling, Strongheart Halfling), Half-Elf, Half-Orc/, class, skills & feats, and so on. Once you are ready to explore, the game begins. You start off as a simple villager in training with one of several local residents, depending on which class you selected during character creation, and proceed through a Harvest Fair section that also serves as a tutorial. From there the action immediately picks up and you need to put your new skills into practice. As I mentioned above, one significant difference from the original game is the use of the updated AD&D 3.5 rule set. If you know that from paper and pencil D&D, then you'll feel right at home. There are a few differences, mostly in the skills, but nothing major. The changes here are not on the scale of those made between the version 2.0 and 3.0 rule sets. Changes to the rule system this time are largely about balancing the characters.
The party system has changed considerably from the original game. Instead of giving you full control of your main character and relegating the rest to the AI, you now have complete say as to what they do in every round of combat. Yeah, these companions can be directly controlled in combat and have their inventories manipulated by the player. Unfortunately, the game lacks any kind of global inventory management system, so every time you go to switch a character out of an active party, you need to spend a significant amount of time swapping around items to make sure everyone's ideally equipped. Probrably the biggest issue with your party members is that they are not particularly bright. From frustrating pathfinding issues to their liberal use of spells and potions, unless you take complete control you're going to get annoyed - pretty fast. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing your party members suck down valuable potions while fighting a bunch of ragtag orcs :
Multiplayer is a huge part of the game and it succeeds in a big way, especially if you have a regular group that you can play with over as LAN. Playing the campaign in co-op mode is just damn fun. The game also comes with a toolset and a dedicated community that continually pumps out content. When you eventually tire of the main campaign, you will find plenty of new adventures waiting for you.
Overall, I would say Neverwinter Nights 2 is definitely worth its cost. It looks to make advances in all of the same areas as the original - strong single player content, solid multiplayer experience, excellent toolkit and support for all aspects of the user community. There are a lot of frustrating bugs and issues still in the game (do save very often if you play the game, the quick save is there for a reason), but the latest patch has significantly improved performance and fixed many bugs. I would definitely recommend this game for fans of this genre.
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, buy Neverwinter Nights 2 DVD-ROM
Recommended: Processor: 3.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent, 1GB
System RAM, ATI Radeon X800 series, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series or higher video
Minimum: Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor,
512MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9800 or NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or higher, DirectX
9.0c-compatible sound card,
6.5 GB free hard disk space, DVD-ROM Drive: 6X speed or faster; Broadband
connection for multiplayer online play