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My flame-less verdict

Discussion in 'Neverwinter Nights 2' started by catbert, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. catbert

    catbert Midnight Snack Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I actually forced myself to play the game, after a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, after gritting my teeth about graphic inadequacy and programming faults, and after spending a small fortune on tuning my hardware for usable performance (yes, I'm picky). Now, a dozen hours into the gameplay, I finally realized just what exactly this game looks like.

    It's not Neverwinter Nights 2. It could have been Baldur's Gate 3 or Icewind Dale 3, but it isn't a sequel to NWN in spirit. Yes, it has a story, and yes, it has dialogs and NPCs that are engaging. The writers of the campaign did a good job, and out of all the developers they probably deserve the paycheck the most. The story, while rather typical, is seeded with little details and some (by far not all) dialogs feel like they have been written by a real person as they invoke occasional sympathy, and made me chuckle quite a few times. That's something that the Baldur's Gate and IWD series did, and NWN had none of, and it's a good thing. But just the original campaign doesn't make this game Neverwinter Nights.

    My Baldur's Gate flashbacks came in all shapes and sizes. Starting from animations that seem to mirror the two-dimensional graphics from 1998, to the look of the inventory screen. All of those are obsolete. I remember quite a long time ago, I played in a persistent world for NWN, and during an argument with another player, I saw his character stand quietly for a second, put a hand over his shoulder, and pull out a greatsword. Then I knew - oops, I'm ****ed - and I backed away with a hasty apology. Those were just measly, low-polygon player models of the original NWN, but they felt like people because they moved like people. This will never happen in this game. Even the weapon change animation is conspicuously absent. The weapon just appears in your hand as you equip it, and disappears as you unequip it. Just as it was in Baldur's Gate, eight years ago.

    It has a world map. Just like BG, IWD, KOTOR - games that were suited almost exclusively for single player. There isn't even a pretense for multiplayer fluidity of NWN in the new game's campaign. Just entering a dialog freezes your friends in their tracks, leaving them unable to act as you choose your response options. There are no transitive areas, and you simply do not feel as if you travel - you simply jump from one plot point to another. It's been four years since I've last been prevented from splitting off from my party members and exploring other areas while they go about their business - all those the reasons why multiplayer of BG and IWD was such an awkward experience. The campaign of NWN2 follows suit - it's entirely misconceived as a multiplayer experience.

    As I play, I catch more and more things that I want to do instinctively, but cannot. Quickly hit F1 to go into stealth, use Q and E keys to flank my target and get my sneak attacks (you simply walk away from the target in NWN2, not move around it), use the highlight key to see the statistics for the enemies and pick my next target effectively, give voice commands to my companions in three keystrokes as opposed to three right-clicks. I miss a clear and uncluttered character sheet and a logical inventory screen (in which I cannot carry a hundred greatswords on my person, no matter how strong I am). I find myself spending my battles in pause mode just so I could prevent the idiotic AI from acting suicidal. Once I took complete control of my party, I'm paused all the more, especially because it's so hard to click on moving objects in this game. I simply don't feel the dynamic that was ubiquitous in NWN. I do however feel the BG vibe where I'd pause every round to issue commands to my party and click all the right things. Unfortunately this is not how multiplayer works, and the name Neverwinter Nights is supposed to be about multiplayer.

    It's raw, unfinished, and rushed, but there are faults in it that will be fixed, potentially making the game a worthy successor to the Infinity engine line. The clipping will be fixed, the pathfinding might be too, the performance will get tweaked. NWN2 will still feel generic due to tileset graphics and Poser-like animations and characters, but I can see where the people who like it are coming from. I can even see why I'll finish it despite the multitude of disappointing aspects it has.

    In the end, I feel like a kid who waited all year to get a bike for christmas, but got a Red Ryder BB gun. While a BB gun is cool, I still wanted a bike! While NWN2 has an interesting storyline, I still feel like I've gotten a six year old game with somewhat modern graphics and inordinately high system requirements, and it still makes me sad that there never will be a real sequel to Neverwinter Nights.
     
  2. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Thanks for the detailed review, Catbert. As I will never play multiplayer, hopefully some of the faults you describe will not impact me. Plus I don't think I have ever used the Q and E keys in any game so I don't know what they do.
     
  3. Boy at a busstop Gems: 5/31
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    I fully agree with you.

    In ways I'm glad, cause I liked the infinity games a lot more than NWN. But Obsidian is having a hard time trying to combine the two.

    I don't understand why they had to change the graphic system. Alright, now we have an extra axis and everything looks a bit slicker. But they didn't have to redo all the skins and animations right?
    I'm not a programmer, so I could be wrong, but wouldn't it be easier to modify the old engine?

    Everything you mentioned can be fixed and will probably be fixed. Except for the graphics, which is a shame.
     
  4. catbert

    catbert Midnight Snack Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    The engine is a modified engine licensed from Bioware. Obsidian seems to address a lot of concerns about the lack of features and engine deficiency with phrases like: "It's not our engine. To implement all that you ask for, we'd have had to create the engine from the ground up, and we didn't, so you're stuck with what we've licensed". Since they didn't build the core of the game, I assume they will just as well abstain from re-building it in the long run.

    Having said that, singleplayer delivers. However, it was multiplayer which made NWN1 the great game that it is, and the gigabytes of community-created content from the creators of MP modules and persistent worlds second that notion. The new game seems to be rather unreceptive to easy modification and, to be honest, the actual custom module creation.

    For example, the new terrain (hills and creases) comes at a price of a walkmesh downloaded with every module - something that will make fanmade maps much larger, and much more memory-intensive, possibly to prohibitive degrees.

    For some people, who never even played NWN single player (we all agree it wasn't all that fun), those are big things that are not supposed to plague a multiplayer game with the legacy of Neverwinter Nights.
     
  5. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Why am I getting the feeling they sort of screwed a good engine, by the way? NWN engine worked just fine and it was very stylish. I like it even now, while NWN2's interface reminds me of budget games older than NWN1 itself. And the grass is fluffy and erect even with 300 lbs of manflesh and steel on top. Says much about the oh so great graphics that get you 16 fps on a high-end computer.
     
  6. omnigodly Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside


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    Never liked NWN multi :p . I'm the opposite, I just played through the single player campaign to prepare myself for NWN2.

    I think Obsidian is the major issue here. They really did just flat out half-ass everything about the game. Blaming their lack of work on a liscenced engine with "limited capabilities" is just proof that they didn't put the effort required to create a stable environment to run the game on, which in itself explains the poor performance of the game. I have no hopes for Obsidian doing anything to improve what they clearly decided to ignore in the first place. The gameplay will have to make up for the poor progamming (ie: NWN2 resets all my grahpics to default everytime I restart my computer... It seems not to want to save my settings after all temp files are lost when my computer turns off.)
     
  7. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    It is? I have never even contemplated ever playing multiplayer. It just sounds painful. But I have enjoyed NWN SoU and HotU.
     
  8. Equester Gems: 18/31
    Latest gem: Horn Coral


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    i think it depends on perspective, i simply hated the nwn1 henchmen system. does guys seemed to be equiped with AS (artificial stupidity) and was more suicidel then the lemmings.

    as for the mltiplayer. hopefully that is not an issue in player made mods and persistent worlds. allthough a world map, combined with several areas combined might not be bad.

    for might part, 90% of my nwn experience was done throuh player made single player mods, and that is mianly what i want from nwn2, so its not a problem. however i did play a fair few mods with friends and hope that you can walk around freely in does.
     
  9. catbert

    catbert Midnight Snack Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    chevy, hmm, I don't think it's the NWN engine. From a tactile point of view, the game feels much more like KotOR, and that's where the core comes from, I believe.

    Along with a bunch of other things... linearity of the storyline for one. :p
     
  10. Daie d'Malkin

    Daie d'Malkin Shoulda gone to Specsavers

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    Mostly reminds me of Jade EMpire, to be honest. I've just started, but I'll see how I get on...
     
  11. Sir Fink Gems: 13/31
    Latest gem: Ziose


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    I've been griping about the game in my other posts here, but ultimately I am having fun. The core of the any D&D game is there: exploring swamps, forests and ancient crypts; killing monsters and looting treasure chests. Having a million different ways to level up your character. Engaging in well-written dialogs and actually getting the chance to role-play your chaotic neutral bard or lawful good paladin appropriately.

    With enough patches from Obsidian and mods from the player community, it could become a very fun game with a long shelf life.
     
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