Neverwinter Nights 2 Review

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Atari
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2006-10-31
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Introduction

BioWare Corp. released Neverwinter Nights in 2002. It was their first role-playing game not to use the Infinity Engine (which had powered titles like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment), and it received mostly rave reviews from the critics. I wasn't a huge fan of Neverwinter Nights. I thought it was a better toolkit than a game, and, despite sporting fancy 3D graphics, I thought it was a significant downgrade visually from the 2D Baldur's Gate II.

Now Obsidian Entertainment has released Neverwinter Nights 2. Obsidian Entertainment is probably best known as the developer behind Knights of the Old Republic 2, but some might recognize them as the re-grouping of bankrupt Black Isle Studios. Either way, Obsidian has a long history with role-playing games (not to mention a long history of working closely with BioWare), and so I don't think I was alone in anticipating good things from Neverwinter Nights 2. But did Obsidian deliver? Keep reading to find out.


The Engine

Neverwinter Nights 2 is the same sort of game as Neverwinter Nights. It's another party-oriented role-playing game based on the Dungeon and Dragons 3.5 edition rules, and once again it's just as much a toolkit as it is a game. So what's the improvement? Well, Neverwinter Nights 2 contains everything that was in Neverwinter Nights, and it adds more. For example, Neverwinter Nights combined with its two expansion packs allowed players to choose between seven races, 11 regular classes, and 11 prestige classes. Neverwinter Nights 2 contains 16 races (including fun sub-races like drow and tiefling), 12 regular classes (including the warlock class, which doesn't have to rest to cast spells), and 15 prestige classes (including the frenzied berserker, which does about what the name implies). There are also more feats, skills and spells -- to the point that I'm not sure where Obsidian can go with the expansion packs that are sure to follow. But as a result, there are a ton of ways to develop characters now, and that's a great thing.

Better yet, Neverwinter Nights 2 looks much better than Neverwinter Nights. Of course, you'd expect a game released in 2006 to have better visuals than a game released in 2002, but the improvements go deeper than that. If you played Neverwinter Nights, then you might remember that the game was overly tile-centric, making the terrain look more like stair steps than anything you'd encounter in the real world, and that the tiles were so large that all of the locations started to look alike. Well, Obsidian completely dumped the tiles in Neverwinter Nights 2, and as a result the locations are much more realistic and distinct. There are now rolling hills and winding paths, and not everything happens in 90-degree angles.

The graphical improvements extend to the characters as well. Characters now have moving eyes and mouths, and Obsidian did a nice job of lip-synching the dialogue and of giving the characters expressions to match their moods. Sometimes the animations don't always fit together perfectly (I'm thinking of Ambassador Torio here; her eyelids always seemed wrong), but overall the characters in Neverwinter Nights 2 look far superior to the characters in Neverwinter Nights, who didn't get any animations at all. In fact, characters look good enough now that most of the time when you enter into a conversation, the game will switch to a zoomed-in cinematic view so that you can watch the animations in detail. You can even place the camera in an over-the-shoulder view and move your character around using the WASD keys, and the game looks good from this angle as well.

There are some other changes as well -- for example, the radial menus are gone, replaced by more typical tops-down menus, and the cursor is now more context sensitive, meaning that you won't have to use any menus to disable traps or unlock doors -- but these changes are relatively minor. I don't think Obsidian wanted to try and (fix) something that wasn't really broken, and they wanted people who played Neverwinter Nights to feel at home playing Neverwinter Nights 2. As a result, the things that worked remain about the same, and the things that didn't work got a lot of improvement, and so the engine is much nicer than it was before.
New World - January Alpha Update
New World - January Alpha Update

This month’s alpha update for Amazon Game Studios’ upcoming MMORPG New World


Cyberpunk 2077 - RPG Codex Review
Cyberpunk 2077 - RPG Codex Review

Following almost a decade of hype and anticipation, CD Projekt released Cyberpunk


ATOM RPG: Trudograd Early Access Preview
ATOM RPG: Trudograd Early Access Preview

ATOM RPG’s standalone Trudograd expansion should be leaving early access later this


Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen - January 2021 Producer’s Letter
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen - January 2021 Producer’s Letter

This year’s first producer’s letter for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen lets


Fallout: New Vegas 2 Rumored to Be in the Works
Fallout: New Vegas 2 Rumored to Be in the Works

Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas is the closest 3D Fallouts ever got to


King’s Bounty II Preview and New Screenshots
King’s Bounty II Preview and New Screenshots

If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be getting our hands on


Ni-Oh 2 - Fumihiko Yasuda Interviews
Ni-Oh 2 - Fumihiko Yasuda Interviews

With the Complete Edition of Team Ninja’s Dark Souls-inspired action-RPG Ni-Oh 2


Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Coming to Nintendo Switch
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Coming to Nintendo Switch

Last fall, THQ Nordic released Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning for PC, PlayStation


Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga - Champions Chapter 2 “Power” Now Live
Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga - Champions Chapter 2 “Power” Now Live

Guild Wars 2’s episodic Icebrood Saga is almost but not quite ready


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Development Update - A Gameplay Teaser and a New Hero
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Development Update - A Gameplay Teaser and a New Hero

A couple weeks back, we got a chance to check out a


Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Retrospective
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Retrospective

With Star Wars once again enjoying some time in the spotlight, PC


Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms Lore Update - The Dragons of Black and Gold
Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms Lore Update - The Dragons of Black and Gold

Gamera Interactive brings us a new lore update for their upcoming story-driven


New World Feature Overview
New World Feature Overview

Last summer, Amazon Game Studios delayed their upcoming age of exploration MMORPG


Gamedec Lore Highlight - Pain and Senses
Gamedec Lore Highlight - Pain and Senses

Virtual worlds are an integral part of Anshar Studios’ cyberpunk detective RPG


Monster Hunter: Rise Previews
Monster Hunter: Rise Previews

Earlier this month, Capcom launched a limited-time demo for Monster Hunter: Rise,