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Page 3 of 3On the down side, for the majority of the campaign, the combat is very easy, and it doesn't require any sort of thought or planning. You can just rush the bad guys, even if a boss is involved, and be fine. Later, as you start to resolve some of the plot threads, you encounter one tough boss fight after another, and these fights are pretty brutal. Some of these, like a fight against a dragon, I must have loaded my game a couple dozen times before I figured out how to get through them, and I think it would have been nice if Obsidian had balanced out the combat a little, making it more difficult in the early goings and less difficult at the end. (Well, either that or figuring out a way to reduce the loading times for the game. The tough boss fights got more than a little frustrating as I spent more time watching the loading screen than I did participating in the fight itself.)
Also a little disturbing about the campaign is that it barely has any puzzles, or secret doors, or really anything to break up the conversations and combat. This was a surprise to me, because the trend in the Neverwinter Nights expansion packs and premium modules was to add more and more of these sorts of activities, but Neverwinter Nights 2 only has about half a dozen puzzles, and some of them I'm not even sure should count, like when you have to prove your loyalty to Neverwinter. I think the only thing I proved in that quest was that I didn't know a lot about the city, but yet I was able to complete it without loading my game. A couple of the puzzles are clever, like one where you have to guide some ghosts to a tree, and there is even an interesting sequence where you have to run a keep, including handing out quests to newbie adventuring parties, but mostly the campaign seemed dumbed down to me, as if Obsidian had spent too much time playing action role-playing games rather than tactical role-playing games.
If you're not sure what to take away from my review of Neverwinter Nights 2, then take away this: the engine is fantastic. I've heard people complain about bugs and performance issues (you should definitely check your computer against the minimum system requirements and the supported video cards), but the game ran perfectly on my six-month-old computer, and I didn't have any problems with it. Plus, Neverwinter Nights 2 looks great, and with all of the options for character development, I could see re-playing the campaign multiple times just to try out a few. And if the toolkit is as easy to use as it was before, then no doubt we'll see a ton of user created modules eventually, and so Neverwinter Nights 2 should have an extremely long shelf life.
That being said, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the included campaign. For me it felt a little basic, and I didn't care much about who lived or died, or if I'd be able to defeat the bad guy at the end. I think there are supposed to be some potential romances with your companions, but I didn't detect any in my game, and while the dialogue was well-written, I think the writers only excelled at humor and barbs, and had trouble adding in themes with any sort of emotional weight. This is subjective, but for me, if I'm going to spend 60 hours playing a campaign, I need characters and situations I can care about, rather than just a couple of people I can laugh with.
But overall, I'd easily recommend the game -- for what will come if not for what's there now. Neverwinter Nights received all sorts of support, both from BioWare and its community of fans, and I'd only expect the same for Neverwinter Nights 2. Obsidian has already released one patch for the game, and I'd be surprised if they're not able to stamp out most of the problems people have reported so far. So if you're a fan of classic, party-based role-playing games, then Neverwinter Nights 2 is definitely a game to buy.
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