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Neverwinter Nights Review

publisher: Atari
developer: Bioware
genre: RPG

PII 450, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 1.3GB HD
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jun 16, 02
» All About Neverwinter Nights on ActionTrip

The Beginning

The tale of Neverwinter Nights really got under my skin in the past few weeks. From what I saw on my adventures through the labyrinths, dungeons, forests, caves, villages, and cities, I can safely say it was one hell of an enthralling RPG voyage. I'm sure that most gamers are aware of Bioware's reputation when it comes to making thorough role-playing games. Even though the game's only just been released, the community of Neverwinter Nights is already thriving like crazy. What makes Neverwinter Nights stand out from other RPGs, is its unique Aurora Toolset, which gives players the opportunity to create their own scenarios and worlds to venture in. The rest of you can just sit back and enjoy a single-player experience that includes four huge chapters along with a couple of sub-chapters. In any case, we finally have a true fully 3D 3rd Edition AD&D title on our hands. In short, playing an AD&D game with 3rd edition rules expands the RPG genre and it allows you to create your ideal fantasy character.

"This is no mere ranger..."

I decided to create a humble character. A simple rogue, who steers clear of city matters and just wants to seek out his own fortune. As I arrived to the city of Neverwinter and started my training as a rookie-rogue, I began to wonder could I be the chosen one, who can help the suffering people of Neverwinter and stop the deadly plague. After seeing what the terrible disease had done to the city and its people, I took it upon myself to find the cause off it all. I saw what corruption and betrayal were capable of and I decided to hunt down those responsible. A new fire awoke within me, and I began to detest all who would stand in my way. While creeping through the shadows, I soon became undetectable and my skills as a ranger and rogue began to improve. Encountering more than just disgusting orcs and goblins, I also managed to increase my fighting abilities.

Well, that's just one of the possible characters you can create for yourself. I was completely swept away by the excellent single-player plotline, and the endless possibilities in terms of character enhancements. One of the coolest things about Neverwinter Nights is that you can make your hero adept in wielding almost any weapon he has physical aptitudes for. For instance, my ranger gradually became very skillful in brandish axes, longswords, and knives. But in the end his main talents were archery and lock-picking (even a ranger's gotta make a living). It would actually take an eternity to name all of the possible skills and capabilities. Suffice it to say, no matter which class or profession you choose, you're in for one heck of an adventure.

To the Neverwinter Gameplay

Neverwinter Nights has couple of practical solutions when it comes to combat. Your character has a set of default abilities that correspond with his class. Apart from that, he also has a range of special abilities, which come in very handy during combat. Such abilities may encompass target knockdown, sneak attack, disarm attempt, and various other fighting abilities as well as effective defense modes.

The fluentness of gameplay is largely due to the practical interface and inventory system. Your character can carry quite a lot of junk on his back. However, if you overburden him/her, your movement speed will momentarily decrease. As for the GUI, it has a whole bunch of effective and straightforward options, which make the gameplay fun and trouble-free. All AD&D fans will be thrilled to know that there's a useful and pragmatic console at the bottom of the screen, where all of the advanced RPG stuff is footnoted - attack and defense points, skill improvements, various penalties, etc. To consult the console occasionally may be a good learning step for less experienced players. Oh yes, many other issues have been incorporated into the gameplay in order to agree with AD&D principles. This denotes stuff like making sure your character didn't receive any penalties for wearing the wrong armor or using the wrong weapon (example: my rogue couldn't perform any of his special skills while he was wearing heavy armor).

At the bottom of the screen you'll also find ten boxes where you can place attack modes, weapons, and items you'll be using on a regular basis. There are some neat solutions such as placing two weapons in one box, which makes switching easier and quicker; for example, if you're suddenly attacked behind the back whilst using a heavy crossbow, clicking on this box will immediately equip your character with both weapons you had in there (say a sword and a knife).

Fighting a battle in Neverwinter Nights is quite simple. What makes it simple? Well, first of all the fact that everything in the game is customizable; from basic rules and character capabilities, to the control system. The camera angle, character movement, attack, and defense moves can all be set to your preference. What's most commendable is that you can use your mouse to attack and pan the camera, while using the W, A, S, D keys to run, walk, and strafe (really helpful I must admit).

During combat, there are only two things you have to worry about: defense and attack. It's like I said before, thanks to the straightforward controls and intuitive GUI, this won't be a problem. Every skill, item, and weapon is easily accessible. Simply enough, your task is to apply all of the abilities of your character by using the best possible combination of special abilities, armory, and weapons.

They're coming and they are smart

To make a long story short, the AI is excellent. Every opponent in the single-player game will provide you with more than a challenge. Depending on their constitution and magic abilities, they will utilize various tactics in order to defeat you; sometimes flanking you if they are in greater numbers, other times just luring you into a trap if they are outnumbered. Of course, if things get too hairy for you, the difficulty level can be decreased somewhat (but, where's the fun in that?).

The game also offers you the possibility of hiring henchmen (with different classes of course - wizard, rogue, ranger, warrior, etc.). In this case, the team AI routine also works very well. Your companion will provide you with more than enough help in completing your appointed task.

What You'll See and Hear

Neverwinter Nights has many pleasing visual effects. Outdoor environments look great and they feature day&night cycles, various weather conditions (like rain and fog), and nice effects like grass stirring in the wind. Another thing that impressed me was the way the developers have presented the in-game models and the damage inflicted upon them. Once your character fires an arrow or throws a dart it will pierce the body of an unfortunate target and cling to it. And if you miss the target, your arrow may get stuck in a tree or a wall. Different weapons can cause different special effects: glow and smoke come out of ice-based weapons and flames can arise from fire-based ones. Undeniably, the most remarkable visual feature of the game are the incredibly realistic shadows, which are projected by almost any object on the screen. Each and every light source in the game can create an outline of a character or item. If you're passing through an area lighted by numerous torches and candles, your character will cast multiple shadows that all change shape according the to ground formation. Also, if you're wearing any bright items (such as rings, amulets, and weapons that increase the light radius), then you will be an additional light source, and all the shapes around you will cast more shadows. Various spells can also create some nifty shadows, as well as brilliant and colorful effects.

The sound aspect has got to be on of the essential components of the fabulous atmosphere in the game. The music has epic-sounding-symphonic-orchestra type of tracks which increase the tension during battle sequences. Other musical numbers offer sweet and relaxing tunes while you're strolling through peaceful and picturesque surroundings. Many of the characters have unique voiceovers, and on top of that, various foes will be (quite imaginatively) crying out in anguish once you've sliced them with an axe or struck them with an arrow.

The Summary

The crew at Bioware have done all they can to make the multiplayer gaming experience a true RPG pleasure. The so-called Aurora toolset brings a lot of possibilities into picture - its exhaustive settings allow DMs to create their NWN heaven. Once you've constructed a module you may then choose single-player, multiplayer co-op/one-party, or multiplayer with multiple parties/PVP. Cool! Now let me just go and hire my own group of RPG henchmen and we're all set. It might interest you to know that Bioware recently released a Module Tutorial which will help you to get better acquainted with the whole concept of making your NWN world.

Nothing much to say about the whole thing in the end, except that I highly recommend Neverwinter Nights to all gamers, even to those who do not prefer AD&D (the game's tolerable to both inexperienced players as well as hardcore AD&D fans). The game is addictive and considerably lengthy; a RPG fan's dream. If there's any flaw worth mentioning, it might be several bugs I've encountered while playing. They were infrequent, but very irritating. Some of these errors have also caused the game to crash a few times (honesty, three times).

Anyways, because of its hugeness and highly addictive gameplay, this is simply one of those games you should have in you RPG collection.


9.3   Excellent

Highly addictive single-player. Extremely comprehensive multiplayer. Absolutely everything is customizable. A complete D&D satisfaction. Great graphics and sounds;

Buggish at times.


1 post(s)
Reader Comments
uk_john Aug 22 2010, 04:46 am EDT
Damn good,. fair review, from a day where whoever had published this game, it would have got the same review. Now it's all different and it is killing gaming.

Anyone really think ANY future Valve, Bethesda, Blizzard or Bioware game going to get less than 90%? That's what I mean....


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