Neverwinter Nights 2

aka: NWN 2, Wu Dong zhi Ye 2

[ All ] [ Macintosh ] [ Windows ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 81% (based on 49 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 51 ratings with 5 reviews)

Obsidian Entertainment does it again...

The Good
The Electron engine which is a modified version of Bioware's Aurora Engine (used in the game's predecessor, Neverwinter Nights) achieves in displaying a graphically detailed world. Although by no means as sensational as the graphics in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (which was released before it) - they are somewhat different styles of RPG and for Neverwinter Nights 2's purpose, the graphics are good.

The music for the game is extremely well done, fitting in the mood of the game. Voice acting is also very well done which helps you immerse that bit more into the game.

The best part of the game is what Obsidian Entertainment does best - they make you feel like you're in the world by giving you choices, and heaps of them. The decisions you make along the way will change the way your party and other characters react to you, determine what quests you will do and ultimately alter the ending of the game. OE once again brings their Influence system from Knights of the Old Republic 2 which (as the name implies) determines how much influence you have over your party members. Influence can be gained or lost by you performing actions that are either in-line with their alignment or not. The more influence you have with a party member, the more likely you'll unlock side plots. This brings me to another good point of NWN2 and that's its re-playability. With so many ways to end the game, different alignments to choose and different race/class combos, you'll find every experience of the game a different one.

The Bad
Once again, Obsidian Entertainment, while strong with the story and re-playability of the game, somehow released the game with a myriad of bugs. Apparently a lot of material was cut from the final release, just as it was with Knights of the Old Republic 2, however this time at least most of the game appears to tie in much better than it did with their first attempt.

The system requirements for this game may be a problem for some gamers as well since you require more graphics processing power than what you traditionally did with existing RPG titles of this sort (I tried running with 2xGeForce 6800s in SLI and it ran very slow, even on lowest settings - although on a single 7800GS it worked fine).

The Bottom Line
Neverwinter Nights 2 is a contemporary role-playing game that is strong on story and just like a good book will keep you wanting to come back for more, urging you to continue turning each page, just to find out what happens next. The game does have its flaws, namely several bugs plus debatable performance on seemingly sufficient systems, however when compared to what's good about the game, these issues often pale into insignificance.

If you're a fan of Bioware's more story-focused RPGs (e.g. Baldur's Gate) or of Knights of the Old Republic, this game is definitely worth a look.

Windows · by Rambutaan (2767) · 2007

Continuing the best tradition

The Good
Neverwinter Nights 2 is less a sequel to the first game than a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate series and Knights of the Old Republic. The first Neverwinter Nights concentrated more on a single-character experience, with party members being nothing more but "henchmen" for hire. The second one returns to the classic formula that was picked up by Obsidian in the Knights of The Old Republic sequel: party-based role-playing is the driving force of the game.

The core gameplay of Neverwinter Nights 2 follows the familiar template we have seen and loved in Baldur's Gate games. It utilizes the same fantastic combat system - and this time it is fully justified by the return to proper party management. Real-time combat quickly deteriorates into a test for reflexes, leaving little room to tactical thinking; turn-based combat can get too slow. What we have here is a fast-paced system that gives us the best of both, As in other games of the same kind, the combat system works flawlessly (if you disregard technical issues such as poor pathfinding). Positioning your characters, choosing melee or ranged weapons, protecting your spellcasters - everything has an effect. Some of the enemies are surprisingly clever, going for weak and wounded characters, chasing them all over the place, buffing themselves up with spells, etc. The game uses the newest edition of AD&D rules, and there are tons of ways to customize your characters, a nearly unlimited amount of spells, skills, and abilities to choose from. You can spend hours just sitting in front of the "level up" screen, gazing at all those possibilities. It is quite overwhelming.

The many cool spells make druids and mages more interesting to control than ever. Just as it should be in RPGs, preparation and strategy influence the outcome of the battle much more than brute force. Having a balanced party with characters of different classes is a key to success. There are plenty of powerful spells to exploit, many ways to outsmart your enemies and to make battles easier. Since there are so many companions of different races, classes, having different spells and abilities, you won't be able to see everything the game has to offer during your first play. There is a good replay value and so many things to do that the game can eat up a big chunk of your time. Even if you choose the quickest way to the goal, the game remains large and long.

Neverwinter Nights 2 was clearly custom-made for party-driven gameplay. Your companions aren't just picked up and invited to your party; each one of them is connected to the part of the story you are currently experiencing, presented in a dramatic fashion, and logically integrated into the events. Companions have different reasons for joining your party, and those reasons are properly explained, often with a detailed psychological background to the character's actions. After they have joined you, they continue to make comments on your actions and remain present. It is clearly visible how much effort and care was put into designing those characters' actions during the game. Many of the cutscenes will be different each time you play the game with different party members, because they will speak in cutscenes just as they do during gameplay or while performing side quests.

The focus on characters in Neverwinter Nights 2 pretty much drives another big nail into the coffin of Japanese RPGs. Each character is a colorful, clearly outlined representation of a type, sometimes carried to the extreme, but always done with conviction and great charm. You'll want to play this game just to spend some time with your companions. Even the most deliberately generic characters come with personal backgrounds that make them more than just an obligatory cliché. The moral decisions you make in the game might affect the story in a certain way (like a large split in the story arc that occurs when you decide whether to side with law enforcement or criminals in Neverwinter), but they become even more interesting and exciting once you realize that they also influence your party members. Nearly everything you do in the game is noted by your companions, and they sometimes react even to a small dialogue choice. I remember how my companions initiated a conversation with me after I have saved two children in a side quest, talking about education and parental responsibility. I chose answers that made me sound like a mature person with an understanding for a child's mind, and the female druid elf said I would make an excellent father, and (very cautiously) asked me whether I'd already thought of getting married and having children. That's what role-playing is about.

Naturally, most of the choices are just plain old good and evil decisions. Good characters will favor compassion and kindness, evil ones will prefer doing things for the sake of destruction and violence. But it's not always as simple as that. Sometimes you'll have to know a character on a more personal level to make a decision that will influence him or her. A conflict rising when you have to make a decision that involves being careful or just throwing yourself into battle is not necessarily a choice between good and evil, but rather between too equally understandable approaches.

The writing in Neverwinter Nights 2 is, overall, excellent. While I expected this from a game that continued a tradition of high-quality dialogues, I was still impressed by the amount of care put into them. Nearly every dialogue line, no matter how unimportant and casual the conversation is, is written so cleverly that it becomes a pleasure to simply read the game. No matter how generic the subject is, the choice of words makes the conversation interesting. Often such quality is achieved by excessive implementation of humor, but the game avoids this trap and doesn't turn itself into a comedy. On the contrary, it is a serious game with a serious story. It has plenty of humor, but it is not a parody; the humor is there to soften things and shed new, unexpected light on familiar topics. Without turning the game into a caricature of itself, the warm, intelligent humor of Neverwinter Nights 2 works like a magical spell. Suddenly, the medieval fantasy setting of the game becomes a part of our reality. Characters don't talk like generic noble heroes, villains, or commoners. Their language is rich and updated to modern sensibilities, touching upon issues that were probably not discussed in a real medieval society.

Even though the game begins in a (probably deliberately) generic way - you are an orphan, your village is attacked, the attackers are after a magical artifact split into several pieces, and so on - the story soon turns into a complex net of situations that grows the more you play the game, unveiling the main story arc layer by layer. The architecture of the story line is very impressive, and the word "epic" comes to mind when you see how all those quests are bound together, morphing into larger quests, which eventually take you to your ultimate goal. The main story line develops slowly, but that's a requirement for a true epic. The quality of this story is manifested in the quest design, where nearly every quest is a mini-story of its own, dealing with different people, locations, moral issues, etc. A bit like in Final Fantasy VI, what matters here most is not necessarily the main plot, but those little stories that make each location and encounter personal, creating an image of a living, believable world. Even so, the main plot has quite some twists up its sleeve, and becomes progressively interesting until it reaches its climax in the end of the game, where you'll also have to face the consequences of your decisions and the way you have treated your companions.

The Bad
I guess the only substantial complaint that can be made about Neverwinter Nights 2 is its unabashedly traditional personality. And I'm not talking just about the classic medieval setting, the AD&D gameplay, the familiar conversation style, the classic combat system, etc. This is a 3D game created with the same rules that applied to classic isometric RPGs. As a result, very few of the things made possible by 3D graphics are actually implemented here. Sure, you can rotate the camera and get any view you want, but that's about the only feature that reminds us of the fact this game is indeed three-dimensional. There is no physical involvement in the game world of Neverwinter Nights 2. You cannot perform any physical actions, cannot climb or jump. You can only walk on pre-determined paths, and even though the game is large and has plenty of locations, they are artificially separated from each other, and every location has mysterious borders that prevent you from exploring it properly. Sometimes your path will be blocked by a ridiculously small obstacle, but you still won't be able to walk over it. In some cases, you can barely get off a road to explore a nearby meadow, because the game simply doesn't let you approach this meadow. You might say that I demand too much, but I find it deplorable that until now there hasn't been a single RPG that was equally satisfying in both party-driven role-playing and physical immersion in the game world.

Other than that, there are some minor issues, like the long loading times and slow-downs or the party AI. You can forget about general strategies and just go with the old Baldur's Gate-style micro-management. If you let your allies loose, they will do things that can almost be compared to what Fallout NPCs did to you in terms of sheer stupidity and suicidal tendencies. Hurting a badly injured ally with an area spell or running off to unlock a faraway chest at the most critical moment of a battle are just examples of what this AI can accomplish if you have the misfortune of turning the puppet mode off. Also, the pathfinding is quite bad. My companions often got stuck in the middle of a totally empty space on their way to the enemy, and I had to manually re-direct them. I remember one time when I cleared an entire dungeon area before realizing that one of my characters was stuck in a door just near the exit during the whole time, making idiotic movements with his weapon, but still unable to walk through an open door.

The Bottom Line
Neverwinter Nights 2 won't win any awards for originality, but it doesn't matter. For anyone who cares for the wonderful style of RPGs that was manifested in Baldur's Gate (and actually has its roots in Ultima), this is a great choice. Ignore the voice whispering "been there, done that" to you, and bask in the nostalgic glory of complex role-playing rules and romances with cute half-elves.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180491) · 2015

The very best in "hands-off" role-playing

The Good
"Hands-off" type role-playing games are, of course, those belonging to the tried-and-true Black Isle and Bioware tradition, and the Wizardry tradition before that. They are based on an overtly restrictive mode of gameplay: dice-rolled, relatively passive tactical combat, no jumping, no crouching, no freedom of movement and no free map to explore. Environmental gadgets, objects on tables, cupboards etc. are not operable, they're just static parts of the scenery, as if behind a glass case. Rather poor and non-immersive approach really, especially since the advent of the Gothic series which should have changed everything in the genre. I for one much prefer the more realistic, deeper and open-ended Piranha Bytes / Bethesda / Reality Pump school of "hands-on" RPG's, but as far as the Bioware tradition is concerned, I regard NWN2 to be the pinnacle, even as late as 2011.

My beef with the newer Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises is that they take this restrictive approach to their logical, yawny extremes. There is never a feeling of freedom, maybe a poor illusory semblance of it, but never the feeling of even previous Black Isle / Bioware titles, or Obsidian's NWN2. This game embodies that final moment before the Bioware school submitted to this new trend of even more restrictive, handholding, console-y gameplay. (Obsidian's next RPG, Alpha Protocol, was already horribly hands-off.)
NWN2 actually feels more advanced and evolved in gameplay terms than the much-hyped Bioware blockbusters that came in its footsteps. Let's see:

  • The conversations are alive, organic, inspired and often humorous. Just as importantly, they can branch off to all kinds of directions that are far from plot-relevant, but crucial in terms of building atmosphere. (Granted, this was the one strong point of Dragon Age: Origins). Take the trial scene in Castle Never: it's basically one epic, intriguing, tense, fully interactive conversation between 4-6 characters.

  • The above brings us to the fact that the characters, even minor ones, are fleshed out and have some depth to them (as far as mainstream, PG-13 role-playing games go). For instance, whatever Neeshka says or remarks is never boring or trite, thanks to her well-rounded character.

  • Some parts and tidbits are so creative, they are almost literary art. The Wendersnaven, Grobnar's invisible instrument, Guyven of the Road, Daerred's adventure troupe: you've gotta love them. The inclusion of these make NWN1 seem like a tired and phoned-in effort.

  • The build-your-stronghold "subgame" is a breath of fresh air, and quite unexpected too. It lends a light strategic touch to the role-playing experience.

  • Finally, optional side quests are not force-fed to us, but presented in a casual manner. Take for instance the Neverwinter crypt side quest. The little group that triggers it is standing almost out of sight, casually near the entrance. The game hopes that you show some interest in them, as it's a fairly substantial sidequest, but it's not forced on us.

    The Bad
    Here's a rich, evolved, delicate world -- called Toril and/or Forgotten Realms -- in development since the 1960's, way before D&D was even born, a world that always had the potential to be the be-all and end-all of computer RPG settings, and one that begs to be given the unrestricted, open-ended, free-roaming treatment.
    But like Bioware's NWN1, Obsidian wouldn't get off their butts to treat it as deserved. They are doing a better job than Bioware, but they still take a relatively cheap way out, offering us little more than isolated, episodic glimpses into this vibrant world. They give us what amounts to self-enclosed "levels" that are still made up of cramped, conspicuously square-shaped and very 2D maps that remind me of those simplistic 1980's RPG's no one plays anymore.
    The very engine is incapable of giving us more than glimpses into this universe, yet Obsidian seems content with their methods and their engine. Even Gothic 1 (released before NWN1) runs circles around this dated and lazy game design scheme.

    The Bottom Line
    Neverwinter Nights 2 is a mixed bag, like a surprisingly tasty diet chicken soup. It goes to great lengths to try and keep us entertained for 50-odd hours in its restrictive, self-limiting micro-universe. Its dialogs and characters in particular are some of the best in computer role-playing ever.
    But once you've tasted what the dynamic, open worlds of the Elder Scrolls, Two Worlds, Mount & Blade, and Gothic series have to offer, chances are that Obsidian's fancy diet soup won't impress your palate anymore.

Windows · by AndrĂĄs Gregorik (59) · 2011

Neverwinter Nights 2

The Good
- Companions. They are well-written, different and not always get along. Being everyone's friend isn't an option. - While the setting is somewhat generic, the actual plot is pretty engaging. Good side quests.

The Bad
- Third act is incredibly bland. - Gameplay. It's very easy to screw up the character creation and if you do, you're in for a bad time. The game should be called "Trying to hit everyone and missing 99% of the time" Nights 2", i hate this kind of combat system in games. - Obsidian have a really obnoxious way of designing indoor locations, which are all look the same, plays the same and resemble a usual tabletop dungeon which looks like it's been randomly generated.

The Bottom Line
It's probably not that bad, i just suck at these kind of RPG's. But i still think it's very outdated at this point in time.

Windows · by SanfordMorgan · 2023

I was expecting Neverwinter Nights 2 NOT Neverwinter Knights of the Old Republic!

The Good
I'll refrain from using the "blasphemy" word yet, but be sure I'll use it and I'll show you why.

Well I know this is where you say the good part, but I'd prefer saying my mind about my first thoughts on the game.

Now I've played games for a very...very long time. So usually it only takes a couple of minutes (one hour at most) to notice whether a game is worth playing or not. And I've never been wrong at least for me.

So what's the first thing I notice? The intro-cut scene. Most people don't notice the intro movie cut scene, but I do. To me, the cut scene identifies the soul of the game. Like advertising and story-telling. The foreplay before lovemaking. It sets the mood. And what do I get? A sword wielding wizard fighting one of the most uncreative excuse of a monster/villain I've ever seen. Makes you wonder sometimes if a tentacle monster would look better here. Now if you start thinking that, you know that the game is on a really bad start.

But cut scenes aren't everything (but they do give you a hint). The next thing I notice is when I entered the game, the graphics where shabby...or let's say "stuttering". Now there's one thing I really, really hate about 3D games is when I'm faced with unstable graphics. But that should no longer be a problem now, it's like 2006 already? 3D graphics being unstable are no longer a problem.

Wrong. I first played with version 1.00 then patched the darn thing (no much difference, but at least playable now). Had to tweak the video game options like a dozen times. More just to get the sky color right (which apparently shouldn't have any color at all).

Is it my video card you say? Dude, I played Oblivion and Company of Heroes that practically require better video acceleration than this game (and better graphics) and this was a couple years back. If Oblivion worked, than hell sure this darn game better work.

So I had to turn off almost everything, shadows-none, anti-aliasing-none. Ironically, after the change, there wasn't much difference.

And if you didn't notice already, I haven't even begun saying about the bad stuff about the game.

The Bad
The Bad.
Neverwinter Nights 2, prepare to be burned for being one of the worst RPGs of 2006.

I'm a fan huge fan of Neverwinter Nights 1 (except of the overly long dialogs). So what does any fan expect from a sequel? Everything already in the original game. But I'll save that for later.

Let's get back to the main issue first:

The graphics are lame. This is late 2006, with all the hype of 3D graphics and all that crock, I was expected to be blown-away with the game of this magnitude and marketing. But what do I get? Clumsy graphics with mediocre artwork at best. Am I being to harsh. If the game was release 3-4 years ago. Maybe. But again, I must repeat myself this is 2006. Such standards of graphics are appalling. My memories of Icewind Dale were better graphically. There isn't one single area in the game where I can remotely call as "beautiful". In fact, the graphics in the game aren't memorable at all, since most of the time your focusing on where your moving to.

Camera Disaster
Give me Neverwinter Nights 1, give me Knights of the Old Republic. Hell give me a god-damn freakin’ stable camera to play with. Sure the game has numerous camera views (which were greatly upgraded with patches). Do not try v1.00. Nightmare doesn't even describe the camera in version v1.00. The patches didn't fare better, trying to balance the slow-moving graphics and a view-point where you can move and fight from a nice angle is quite a feat. I'm surprised kids today with the average IQ of a doorknob could actually play the game, since you need to tweak the camera for several eons to get it right. Not that I ever found the right camera-view. But it was a whole lot better than the default one.

Speaking of default, shouldn't the system detect your computer settings or something? Well it does, and it detected maximum graphics everything. Not correct since I had to disable every freakin’ graphics settings.

What a game in this virtual age with lame graphics? Yep. Slow moving, rugged graphics. It's a wonder why I played this game thus far. The skies in the game never seem to have any graphics, there's this graphical blur that looks like something from a bad TV set. Don't know what's going on here, but the hype is over-rated.

Movement/Combat/Gameplay Mechanics
One of the worst I've experienced. Movement is sluggish. You never seem to click where you want to. For instance, clicking on a moving character is almost impossible. You keep walking to an area beside the target. Now this is really irritating when your in combat. Since you have to pause the game half-of-the-time. Since some stupid tree, NPC or another monster is blocking your view.

Then there's that irritating Dungeon Master list-thingy, that states all those little statistics. Not that its a problem, what is a problem is when I'm in a dialog and I just wanted to know if my influence, bluff, diplomacy or whatever succeeded. Hey, in Knights of the Republic AND Vampire: The Masquerade they had the courtesy of having that info in the dialog. But here I had to scroll that stupid box for god-knows how long just to find in small fonts "Success" or "Failure".

O.K. that does it. How in the name of all the gods was stupid enough to create the dialogs AND the story in this pathetic little game?

Beautiful and interesting dialogs? Where? The only memorable scene was in the inn where the sorcerer was insulting everyone, well that and the wizard. They seem to be the only 2 with intelligent conversation levels. More than half of the characters lack dialogs.

In Knights of the Old Republic, you intentionally pair-up different characters since YOU KNOW they will say something to each other. That option does not exist in this game. Neesha only says little about the dwarf and the druid Elaine. The paladin doesn't say much, neither does the bard. Hell, they all don't say much. Storytelling for crying out loud, where's the god-damn story telling. I WANT VOICE-OVERS I want to hear the emotions of the actors, their stories. I DO NOT want to click on my dwarf only to find out that after several hours of gameplay he still has the same stupid thing to say: I got beat up by monks in a bar. Even after he became a monk, he has even less words to say. Where is the god-damn ambition in the game here?

Game Engine
O.K. this is where I draw the line. I was expecting Neverwinter Nights 2. Do you know what made Neverwinter Knights 1? The game engine. It had this wonderful god-send game engine which could create and sustain the most fantasy-like creatures your heart could imagine. A friend of mine once created a scene where you could have 100 monsters fighting each other with you in on top of a tower watching the chaos. Now honestly, can you imagine a similar scene in Neverwinter Nights 2? No. Why? Where to put them? The game will be more sluggish, the camera settings won't fit may think. Voila.

When I was waiting for Neverwinter Nights 2, I was waiting for one thing and one thing only. Does anyone remember the license? DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. I've played Dungeons and Dragons since I was a wee little RPG playing wizard. The game engine of Neverwinter Nights 1 created a game engine that could simulate real-size fire breathing dragons. Now that alone was enough to worship Neverwinter Nights 1. I want Dragons, hell, I need Dragons. Someone give me a god-damn dragon!

The Bottom Line

Windows · by Indra was here (20633) · 2007

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, chirinea, 666gonzo666, Jeanne, Kabushi, Tim Janssen, Unicorn Lynx, Cantillon, RhYnoECfnW, Zerobrain, Xoleras, Sciere, Mark Langdahl, jaXen, Stratege, tarmo888, Zeppin, lights out party, Patrick Bregger, Scaryfun, Indra was here, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Alsy.