Two more major gaming sites have taken a look at the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion Storm of Zehir. GameSpot doesn't like it, considering it ill-conceived and giving it a 6.0/10.
Instead of tackling the usual earth-shattering events of a Dungeons & Dragons game, here you take on the duties of a mop-up crew coming in after the party's over. The King of Shadows has already wreaked his havoc, and you're just some poor schlub out to try to make a buck by ensuring that merchants can once more ply their trade. The quests reflect this mundane storyline. You run a lot of lame errands to kill specific monsters and recover lost or stolen merchandise, and you clean out a bunch of formulaic dungeons, caves, graveyards, and the like. Most locales are fairly small, so they seem more like minor obstacles that can be raced through in a few minutes than the huge strongholds and lairs typical of RPGs. Trading feels more like a minor irritant than a worthwhile feature. Generally, you acquire the game's three goods--ore, lumber, and skins--in one place and then sell them at a profit somewhere else. Transactions are handled on simple menu screens when you enter a town, so you don't do anything more than hit a few buttons to add money to your coffers. And the concluding reveal and battle come up so suddenly and are so anticlimactic that you won't believe they're the ending of the game until you've exited to the desktop.
IGN is more impressed, giving it an 8.3/10.
Yet the party is just the tip of the iceberg of what's new in Storm of Zehir. This is a pretty large expansion as Obsidian continues to grow and evolve the capabilities of the engine. For instance, there's a new, 3D world map lets you travel nonlinearly throughout the world, discovering towns and dungeons and more than a dozen secret locales and places. While the world graphics aren't as good as the rest of the game, it's still a welcome addition since you have a feeling of exploration that wasn't there before. While travelling on the world map you might be ambushed by roving foes; this actually makes some neglected skills useful again. For instance, the ranger's survival ability dictates the speed of overland travel and with a higher survival skill, the faster you can go. You might even outrun some foes. On the other hand, combat occurs a bit too much on the world map; sometimes it feels like you travel from one town to another without engaging in at least four or five battle.