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Neverwinter Nights 2

Once more into the RPG breach, dear beards, once more

The ascent of the cult of Neverwinter Nights was dazzling - straddling the domain of the hardened role-player and that of the RPG-curious with a spectacular display of undead-slashing and user-friendliness. Even 'real people' were converted into pitiful dice-rolling warriors and wizards - making it somewhat of a gateway drug for World Of Warcraft. And so bid welcome to Neverwinter Nights 2 (unfortunately not called Neverwinter Noons, Neverwinter Dusks or any other interesting time of day).

As usual in such sequel affairs, it does indeed look better than ever. Being developed by Obsidian (who also developed KOTOR2, BioWare's other unwanted baby) and using an entirely rebuilt graphics engine, the game not only looks fantastic, but sticks faithfully to the type of gameplay that made the original as popular as it was. NWN2 takes some obvious cues from KOTOR2, such as the inclusion of a third-person camera (making this far more appealing to newcomers), the way you influence your companions and even simple things like how the camera will show the NPC you're talking to, along with the familiar-looking list of dialogue options underneath. You'll also be able to take control of your companions directly, and, depending on your interactions with them, new quests and story arcs can open up.

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Another major addition is the ability to build your own strongholds, and, as you gain renown, employ (more than one!) henchman to toil away in your self-constructed den, researching spells and the like for you. As with the original, creating additional content will be encouraged through the massive range of tools provided, and with the sequel being fully backwards-compatible with fan-made content for the first game, there's already a wealth of custom-content out there in Internet land. Obsidian has already proven itself worthy of filling BioWare's shoes with KOTOR2 - iffy ending aside - no doubt it can do the same with 'Nights.

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