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Page 2 of 3The Campaign
Neverwinter Nights 2 takes place a few years after the events of Neverwinter Nights, but the campaigns of the two games are completely unrelated. Every so often somebody might mention (that business between Neverwinter and Luskan,) and there are a few references to people and equipment from the earlier campaign (and at least one notable character who spans the campaigns), but otherwise no knowledge of the Neverwinter Nights campaign is required, and you can play and enjoy Neverwinter Nights 2 without having any idea of what happened in the previous game.
As the Neverwinter Nights 2 campaign opens up, you find yourself in the marsh town of West Harbor. One night a group of gray dwarves attacks your village, but the attack is odd, as if the dwarves are looking for something rather than trying to plunder the town's relatively meager riches. Soon you discover the reason for the attack -- a mysterious silver shard that was hidden in a nearby crypt. You agree to take the shard far away from your village in order to draw the attackers away, but the shard seems to have some sort of connection to you, and so you decide to investigate what it is and why so many people (not just the dwarves) seem to want it. Along the way you explore dark caves and haunted tombs, complete quests both minor and major, and eventually arrive in the fabled districts of Neverwinter, which barely look anything like they did before.
The campaign is technically well made. You're given lots of options for role-playing. You can be rude or polite, violent or diplomatic, lawful or chaotic. Many quests give you multiple options for how to solve them, and there is even one fairly significant branch in the campaign where you're forced to choose sides between the Neverwinter city guards and a bandit gang. The dialogue is well-written, and it is mostly well-acted (although none of the actors can agree on how to pronounce words like (Faer?n) and (hosttower)), and there is a nice balance between conversations, scripted events, and combat.
Unlike in Neverwinter Nights, your companions in Neverwinter Nights 2 form an integral part of the campaign. You can have up to four companions with you at any one time, and you can control them as much as you'd like (including turning on (puppet mode) and controlling them completely). The companions in the game are like the companions from the Baldur's Gate or Knights of the Old Republic games. You don't just find them all waiting for you in a tavern. Instead, you meet them during your travels, but they often have their own agendas, and so you're never sure if they're just helping you out or using you or maybe even spying on you. But their quests and goals are related to the plot, and so having them with you adds more depth to your adventures.
Also, like in Knights of the Old Republic 2, you need to gain influence with your companions so that you can complete their side quests and open up new dialogue options with them. Mostly, you gain influence when you say something supportive to a companion, or do something that they would agree with, but you have to be careful, too, because what makes one companion happy might not be agreeable to another one. For example, two of the first companions you meet are a lawful dwarf fighter and a chaotic tiefling rogue, and they have wildly different views on things like whether it's okay to enter locked houses or whether you should perform noble deeds without the promise of a reward, and so it can be difficult to keep them both happy. But Neverwinter Nights 2 comes with about a dozen possible companions, and so you should be able to find a few who agree with the personality of your character.