Worth playing? YOU BETCHA!
I care nothing for "constructing" games or for multi-playing, so this review concentrates on the Single Player game only .. with all patches applies.
I knew that NWN was a long game before starting. So I waited to play it when I could give it my full attention. And, believe me, it takes that .. I have been engrossed for weeks now.
I hadn't played an AD&D game lately (my most recent was the original Icewind Dale
, which I liked very much) and Neverwinter Nights has gotten some really good commercial reviews, so I figured this was a natural choice. The reviews here on Moby
thus far are varied, but lean towards the "bad" side. Well, although I agree with some of the other reviewers, my opinion leans heavily toward "good".
Hands down, the story is the best part about NWN
. Even though the game is a "medieval fantasy", the plot is believable, intriguing and interesting. The script writers must be geniuses! Conversations with each character are unique, and there's very little repetitive dialog.
Second to the story, I think, is the way the game is divided. Each of the Chapters feels like an entirely new game .. new places, new people and new quests. And yet, those parts are flawlessly meshed to bring all of them together towards the finale.
Next .. the "quests" are wonderfully diverse and challenging. There are plenty of dungeons, caves and caverns, plus buildings and landscapes to explore. You don't need to complete all of the quests to finish the game (but it helps build experience!).
The "henchman" idea is terrific! You play your character alone, or with a "side-kick" if you wish. In this game, you don't control their equipment at all so they're not just "pack rats". You give them commands (such as "attack nearest", "follow me", "guard me" or "stand your ground") and can talk to them (something lacking in other games). Your partner should compliment your abilities, so if you're a spellcaster, choose a fighter. The experience points they gain are yours also, so it doesn't seem to matter who kills what. Their level is always one behind yours, which is different too. (I understand the expansion packs add more features for the henchmen, including managing their inventory.)
Although at a glance the graphics don't look different than many other games, some things are better. Special effects are cool especially during spellcasting. You're able to "zoom" in and out for close-ups of everything. In that view even blades of grass become more realistic. Being able to rotate the angle of view also helps pinpoint a particular spot, even when everybody is crowded together (like the "remains" of a chest you just opened).
Playing around with the arrangement of inventory has always been fun, and it's good in NWN, but not perfect. Finding "bags" to group like items together is a plus and they've included different ones here to reduce weight of the items in those bags .. 20% all the way up to 100%. Since the henchmen can't carry any of your gear, this means even a weak cleric can tote loads of stuff around.
This is the first time I've played as a Druid and, as most people know, a druid must keep their alignment neutral. It's interesting to note that conversation choices and actions you take DO have an effect on alignment. Many times I've had to restore an earlier game because something I said or did swayed me towards "evil".
NWN includes other things that I've grown accustomed to .. full maps; being able to add notes to those maps; auto-save; a well-organized journal.
The music is nice, but not nearly as beautiful as in other games I've played.
I agree with another reviewer who commented on the maps. Several of the areas dump fully to your screen when you first arrive, complete with annotated locations. So much for discovery! But, that's a little thing.
I wished that when a "like" item was picked up, it would automatically combine with others already stored in one of my inventory bags instead of separately. I also wished that more than 10 potions could be stacked in one slot. (Bolts, arrows & bullets do .. why not potions?)
When levelling up you are allowed to pick new "feats" and (as a druid at least) your new animal companion side-kick. That's okay, but you're not able to increase your core attributes (strength, wisdom, intelligence etc.) except in 5 special levels. If you've made a mistake during those selections, you may never attain high enough qualities to beat the end-game boss. (This is especially important for spellcasters, druids and clerics who need those high level spells.) I didn't like that part. I wished the properties would have automatically upgraded as I advanced.
The Bottom Line
There are several words that I think describe the single-player Neverwinter Nights game .. good, solid, big, engrossing, challenging, interesting .. fun!
I have not been bored or disappointed .. not for a minute.
Sure, as a role-player I'm not as experienced as many of the other reviewers of this game. But, hey, I know what I like .. and I like Neverwinter Nights. I like it so well that I may go for the expansion packs (something I've never done).
Worth playing? YOU BETCHA!