The original Neverwinter Nights was a big success when it came out in 2002. It was created by BioWare, the makers of such RPG gems as Baldur’s Gate and Knights of the Old Republic. Now the sequel is here, and was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the company behind other BioWare sequels like Knights of the Old Republic II. Generally speaking, these sequels never quite matched up to the originals - but while NWN 2 does have its fair share of flaws, for the most part it’s an engaging RPG that should keep you entertained for hours and hours.
I’ll say this right now: Neverwinter Nights 2 is not for those who prefer ‘lite’ RPGs. It utilizes the latest Dungeons & Dragons rule set which, as D&D aficionados will know, is extremely deep and complex. You’ll get a glimpse of the huge range of options available to you as soon as you create a new character – when you take all the races, sub races, classes, feats, and skills into account, it could be some time before you see the start of the game. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – if you like plenty of customization options, you’re in for a treat.
It’s a similar story for the rest of the game – you’ll be presented with a seemingly overwhelming number of options while you play. Luckily, you can get away with ignoring many elements of the game for some time, and all the things you really need to know are presented in a handy tutorial.
Of course, one of the biggest focal points for RPGs is the story – and Neverwinter Nights 2 has quite a good one. It starts off pretty slowly, and somewhat generically – you’re an orphan whose village gets attacked early in the game, and you are tasked by your foster father to transport a mysterious silver shard to the city of Neverwinter. Once you reach the city, though, things will pick up – not just in terms of the storyline, but also because you will have had enough time to get your head around the game’s interface, which can take some getting used to if you’ve never played a similar sort of game before.
Throughout your travels, you’ll have many conversations (and fights) with all sorts of interesting characters – and some of the people you meet will even join your cause. You can have up to three other party members, and they’re not just faceless goons who follow you blindly. Instead, you’ll run into followers who have their own agendas, alignments, and prejudices – and inevitably, they’ll end up clashing, either with you, or with someone else in the party. Trying to keep everyone happy throughout your adventure is mostly enjoyable, although occasionally you’ll find yourself wishing that everyone would just shut up and do what you asked them to do.
All of this, combined with the fact that the plot gets more and more interesting as you progress, really helps draw you in to the game, and certainly keeps you wanting to play more. It’s a shame, then, that several bugs keep dampening – or outright ruining – the experience. In spite of a number of patches (which I absolutely recommend you get), there are still a number of annoying things about the game. The biggest complaint is the system requirements – they’re far too steep for the graphical payoff that you receive. If you don’t have a top-end system, be prepared for quite a lot of slow down, even if you turn the graphics settings down.
The other major annoying aspect of NWN 2 is the camera – while you have quite a lot of control over it, and can switch between four different modes, each setting has its own problems. You’ll find yourself constantly readjusting the camera as you move into different locations, which can become quite a chore.
But in spite of this, the game is certainly still worth diving in to if you are at all into deep, immersive role playing games. It’s definitely the kind of game that requires an investment on your part, but the reward is well worth it – you’ll be treated to an adventure that is rich, complex, and satisfying. If you think you can get over the issues mentioned above, Neverwinter Nights 2 is well worth checking out.