To further my quest into the dark pool of geekdom, I now own a copy of Neverwinter Nights 2. The original was very good, and I’m looking forward to playing this one.
This entry will be a work in progress as the journey unfolds. As background for my comments, I’ve played NWN v1, most of the other real time or turn based DND type games, and played DND since the early 1980s. I dread to think how many hours of /played I have in RPG.
Step 1: Installation
Installation was as you’d expect, just let the machine chug away while you watch TV or surf the web. Interesting that the .Net platform is required, and I’d love to know if that is a core requirement for the game, or just the toolset. Kudos to the developers for using .Net.
During the installation phase you are given the opportunity to register online, but the servers must have been either clogged or down when I tried. Not a good start.
Otherwise the install seemed to be OK…
Step 2: Patching
Patching is done using a little updater application much like WoW or other games, and while I normally like a smoother looking interface, I can handle a little less information being given to me, as long as it keeps me up to date on what its doing.
Patching takes a bloody long time. Get a meal, watch a film, or take your significant other out on a date; you’re not playing this game any time soon.
Twice during the download and patch process I had to also kick this off manually again as it told me my internet was unavailable. Clearly this is a little odd.
Also the .Net2 update took forever to install, and I was left wondering it it has crashed. It has not crashed, but the game does like to ponder the universe while updating your system.
As of today the game version is: 1.02.809.
Step 3: Initial game play – How does it drive?
My first impression was excellent, and then it was all downhill.
The cut scenes use your character model, which adds immersion into the story. Many times during the solo story the NPCs will give you the back story, and you can see your self in the picture. This is a great feature, and something that impresses the hell out of me.
The drawn art is good, as is the overall arty feel of the GUI. I like a bit of flavour in an interface, especially as the default interface. The art dept should really get a pat on the back for making a skin that suits the DnD feel.
The character creation is a tad two dimensional, but no different from most games; and certainly better than WoW. Character generation is something that I place a high degree of importance on, so it is only fair to say that my dreams were never really going to be met in full. The only game with slightly better character model generation is EVE, but I’ve heard that City of Heroes is also excellent.
There are more classes and races to pick from than most other games, and certainly more in the default set than most games offer. Another huge win here for the Pen and Paper geeks out there. They have done an excellent job of making the character models look like the Classes, and also hinted at popular references in the style without totally ripping off a concept. When you play look at the Ranger’s default outfit; its all LOTR.
However the game requires the CD to run. I hate this. C’Mon you great developers, come up with a copy protection system better that that! The coders at my last company built a nice registration system using generated keys and online authentication; so there is no reason for this.
The camera is terrible. They must make the camera pan gracefully, and please somebody explain why the arrow keys move the camera in the opposite direction. Press Left get a right pan is just wrong! But I suspect I can fix this in the interface, and as long as I can save my config for later games, I’m OK with this.
I found the game also ran slowly. During the fights I was hitting pause a lot to get my character to fight properly, and not just stand around. The NPCs in my group however fight at the drop of a hat, and will crush, kill, destroy most foes.
To be continued…
I’m going to reserve judgment for now, as I expect the game to get better with patches (just like NWN1, WoW, etc…), and I think the regular gamers out there will also drive the game forward.