150 of 172 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2001
Having followed the development of Neverwinter Nights for almost two years now, I think I have a feel for what this game will mean to Computer Role-Playing Games.
Neverwinter Nights (NWN) is not a Massively Multiplayer Game, it wasn't designed to be such. It is not a single-player Game although it will ship with a single-player campaign. NWN was designed for a small group of players (up to 64 currently) to play through 4-5 hour modules (adventures) very similar to the way Pen and Paper Role-Playing campaigns are structured.
One person controls one character either totally independently or under the supervision of a live DM that can control the playing environment (for instance scaling back an encounter that is too tough for the players).
To PnP roleplayers this game will be a dream come true, a chance to move into the computer game world and create modules without having to learn complicated graphic arts and computer programming techniques. It will also be attractive to the MMORPG player who is tired of the endless pointless series of combats who craves a Roleplaying experience. It will challenge Mod Designers who have up-to-now had their own private playgrounds due to the steep learning curve cost of entering the world of Module Design.
Will this lead to a plethora of modules being produced (most of them bad)? I personally hope so, because as with PnP roleplaying it was typically never the bought modules that yielded the memorable experiences.
Neverwinter Nights will not be Baldur's Gate and it will not be EverQuest. It will be something different, its own game.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2002
Not that that's a bad thing. First of all though, in case you didn't know, Neverwinter Nights has been in development for a VERY (over 4 years) long time. Baldurs Gate fans (like me) have been waiting for this game so anxiously, you wouldn't believe. Most of of us would probably expect a game similiar to Baldurs Gate, but regardless of what you heard... it's not nearly as good.
You see, Neverwinter has a different purpose (which I don't like)... and that's multiplayer, and creating your own "worlds" with the tool set. Don't get me wrong, the game is still fun... but it plays like a souped up version of Dungeon Siege. Unlike Baldurs Gate, Neverwinter lets you control only one character, instead of a whole 6-man/woman party. True, this is dissapointing in a way, but the game is meant for playing with other people, and that's where the parties form... so not really anything to worry about.
The game looks and plays almost identical to Dungeon Siege (which I hated)... the only difference is that Neverwinter uses the 3rd-Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules. And no, I'm not going to explain it. But just expect lots and lots of hack n' slash.
So, basically, this game really isn't anything special. It really isn't. Behind all the flashy D&D rules, lies good ol' hack n' slash. The only thing is that it's fun when your doing it with other people. I don't understand why many are saying that Baldurs fans will love this game, because I'm a huge Baldurs Gate fan, and I don't love it. However, I do LIKE it... it's a good, fun multi-player experience. No, it's not the end-all RPG... not even the best RPG this year (Morrowind is 20 times better). But if your looking for some fun multi-player gaming, then buy Neverwinter Nights. Just don't expect another masterpiece like Baldurs Gate II. And if you don't own Morrowind, get that instead of this...
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2002
NWN is actually 3 things in one: it ships with a single player campaign so you can play it on your own, much as you would other CRPGs such as Arcanum, Fallout or the Baldur's Gate series. It can be played (and indeed was primarily intended to be played) multiplayer, in which you typically team up with other players to complete a module. Finally, it ships with an editor so you can produce your own modules. Note that this means you can download hundreds (eventually undoubtedly thousands) of player created modules to continue enjoying the game. NWN is based on the 3rd edition Dungeon and Dragons rules.
Having said all that I want to comment specifically about the SP game: opinions are deeply divided on this issue, but IMO if you liked Bioware's previous CRPG offerings, the classics Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2, you are probably going to be disappointed with the NWN single player campaign. In a nutshell, you don't get a full party but instead can hire a single henchman, who has about as much character as a cold bowl of oatmeal. The story line is very linear, some would also say predictable. Loot is randomly generated, so you spend a LOT of time smashing open chests and barrels because you never know when you'll find something good in the most unlikely of places. All the screen art is composed using a limited set of standard tilesets, so it gets repetitive fast. The side quests, such as they are, tend strongly toward the "purolator" variety in which you simply retrieve an item and return it to the person who gave you the quest for a reward. Depending on which class you choose to play you may also find combat generally unchallenging. I could go on, but you get the idea. For many of us who thoroughly enjoyed the BG and BG 2 experience NWN was a major letdown. Don't take my word for it though, visit the official NWN website at nwn.bioware.com, where the pros and cons of NWN were hotly debated by the game's supporters and critics for weeks after the release.
I have not touched on the multiplayer game or the editor. Suffice it to say that multiplayer game can be a lot of fun if you are playing with people you know. You can join games with strangers, but that experience is often -to say the least- uneven. To take full advantage of the editor you need to be comfortable using a scripting language. You can design basic modules using only "stock" scripts, but the results will be bland. It goes without saying that although there is a large and ever growing number of modules in the public domain, only a minority of them are even medicore.
One final note: if you are looking for quality fantasy CRPG, with well-developed NPCs, an engaging storyline and a well rendered world, and you have not played Baldur's Gate or Baldur's Gate 2, don't deny yourself any longer, you're in for a treat!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps the best that can be said about Neverwinter Nights is that it comes very close to fulfilling all the hype that lead up to its release. It isn't, however, going to put Wizards of the Coast out of business. Here is why.
The Aurora toolset is powerful- very powerful. Probably too powerful, as it is difficult to learn and slow to use. I'm a computer programmer that has also acted as a pen and paper Dungeon Master, yet I still haven't quite worked up the urge to delve into all those tutorials and menus. The main problem with building your own modules is that you have to pick and place everything, which takes literally forever. Also, the editor has some odd quirks and limitations, and if you use hacks or scripts can screw up the game very easily. You are well advised to backup everything before you do anything.
The single play campaign is very long and quite challenging. The plot is good, and the characters have more than one dimension. Unfortunately, it shares some of the elements of the only other 3rd edition D&D CRPG- Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. That is to say, there are way too many dumb 'Fed Ex quests,' and the graphics seem squarish and get very repetitive. It is still a good deal better than that game, however, as combat is actually fun and the NPCs do more than just tell you to go somewhere and find something.
As for stability issues, if you don't hack there probably won't be too many. However, once in a while you might encounter inexplicable and often serious bugs. For example, sometimes items vanish or stop working for no apparent reason. I've also seen savegames get corrupted, which is bad but not impossibly so, since you can export and restart a chapter. It's advisable you keep several saves and update them at intervals in case something breaks.
Aside from its flaws, NWN has a great look and 3rd Edition feel. The rules aren't nearly as faked as they are in Pool of Radiance, though some spells and feats are modified to be workable with the real-time system. That said, not all of the rules are implemented, but quite a few are. I have to admit I was astonished at how thorough a job BioWare did... although my opinion might be skewed due to having played through the entire Pool of Radiance game (still can't believe I did that). As is to be expected, the spells look fantastic, and combat is generally exciting and fun. You'll encounter scores of different monsters, and they each look unique and well done.
The interface is easy to learn, especially for veterans of Baldur's Gate or similar games. As with its 2-D predecessor, you can pause the game to issue commands. You do not control a party any longer, however, and can have at most three followers (a henchman, familiar/animal companion, and summoned creature). The followers' artificial intelligence is passing, but not too great. Perhaps the community or BioWare will improve on it with future patches. If there's one thing at all that hasn't changed in the makeover from Infinity engine to Aurora, it has to be the path-finding. It's still horrible, and despite the fact that I like NWN in general, I can't think of an excuse for this. It's as if BioWare has been deaf to player's comments for the last few years... I hope they remedy it somehow.
Despite its pitfalls, Neverwinter Nights goes a long way to addressing the need for a customizable computer D&D experience. It is definitely a revolutionary step up from Baldur's Gate in terms of this aspect, and it has a great deal of potential. I am looking forward to seeing what BioWare is going to do with this proprietary engine in the future. For now, all those who enjoyed the Infinity engine games or wish to try out a D&D CRPG are heartily encouraged to get a copy of Neverwinter Nights.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2004
Neverwinter Nights is a great single-player game. Neverwinter Nights is a great multiplayer game. Neverwinter Nights is a great all-around game. 1,2,3, the cat ran up the tree.
Really, though, it is a great game. I have a sort of souped-up computer now (3 Ghz processor, 1 GB RAM, ATI Radeon 128 MB graphics card) so the graphics run smoothly no matter how high the settings are. On my older computer, though (1.8 Ghz processor, 256 MB RAM, cheap Intel graphics card) it didn't work as well, so if your computer isn't great it might not runn so well. Overall, the gameplay is great; it isn't too hack-and-slash, the single-player campaign is superb, and I think it does a pretty good job of porting the D&D 3rd Edition rules (though I, being too young to have played the original pencil-and-paper D&D, wouldn't really know). Still, there are a couple minor flaws you should know about when deciding whether or not to buy the game:
1. Henchman (i.e. any companion you may have). There a few issues here. The first, and most glaring, is that you can only have one (excluding any people you are leading somewhere as part of a quest and familiars [animals or whatever that you summon via magic]). Still, when you play the game, you might be glad of this, because the pathfinding for henchmen is really inexcusably abysmal. Lots of times rounding a corner is enough to make your henchman freeze in his/her tracks and stay where he/she is until you come back and "bait" him/her out by inching along. Also, you can't control your henchman's inventory (although you can in the expansion). This, I suppose, is only a pain if you are a shady player who likes to take all he can from his henchman and sell it. But it can be troublesome if they have a good weapon that they aren't using and that you want.
2. Pathing in general. Pretty self-explanatory. The camera is rather awkward, which makes it even harder. Combine this with henchman pathing and you have a real pain.
3. The instruction manual. This is the biggest, baddest problem. Like I said, I have no clue how the original D&D was played; when it was in vogue, I was an embryo. I don't know what character class is. The term "skill modifier" is a mystery to me. And what is a "saving throw?" Here's a real gem, straight from the manual: "Only rogues may disarm traps with a DC over 35 or greater. With 5 or more ranks in Set Traps a character gains a +2 synergy bonus on Disable Trap checks." and there's more: "Standing still provides a +5 bonus to a Listen Check. A character with the Alertness feat gains a +2 synergy bonus on listen checks." And also, it was only after much ponderings that I realized that the often-referred to "2d6" meant a 6-sided die rolled twice, and "1d8" is an 8-sided die rolled once. And why does a "Greatsword +1" cost about 50,000 times more that a regular Greatsword? The list goes on and on.
4. Turn-based combat. For "turn-based" read "dumb, pointless and frustrating." For no real reason, there is a 5 or 6 second delay between each combat action. A zombie will swing a fist; the character will duck. A HUGE pause. You will swing your sword. The zombie may or may not duck. Why the pause? It conveys no sense of "my turn, your turn." Is it to make all the necessary "skill checks," "saving throws," and "dice rolls?" Come on, folks. This is a computer. It can do 20 times that amount of simple math in a millisecond.
Well, anyway. It's a great game, just these minor details. Get it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2002
Let me preface by saying that I followed NWN's development almost from the moment it was announced. I waited with great anticipation for its release and paid full price for it the day it came out. I was ready to overlook some minor flaws because I had seen the game and read the hype and I just knew it was right up my alley.
I want to give this game more than 3 stars, I really do, and I don't want anyone to get the impression that this is not a fantastic feat of programming, because it absolutely is, but there are disappointments that must be addressed.
First of all, the game is skewed toward melee classes. I played a monk with a cleric henchman and had no need for a magic user. The appeal of D&D and other RPGs is the fact that different skills are needed and that they enhance one another. In NWN, at least in the included campaign, fighters and healers will do the job. Magic-users are superfluous.
Second, money and treasure are far too easy to acquire. Upon completing the single player game, my monk had several hundred thousand gold pieces and was selling nice enchanted weapons and armor because he couldn't hold them and already had the top of the line. This kills the incentive to continue in a big way.
Third, your character maxes out at level 20. If you play the single player game all the way through, you will get to level 20, period. It is too easy to get there and once you do get there, what next? Why keep playing that character online or elsewhere? Another incentive killer.
Fourth, the pre-release press promised everything the 3rd ed rules had. In anticipation, I purchased the Monster Manual. Well, most of the monsters aren't in the game (not just the single player, but the toolset as well), including some very popular opponents, and there's no way to create your own monsters, so unless BioWare plans to release a monster library, you're stuck with just a few of the monsters. Examples of missing monsters include Kobolds, Gelatinous Cubes, Owlbears, and Manticores, just to name a few.
Fifth, the toolset is very easy if you just want to place monsters and treasure, but if you want to add some complex puzzles, you will have to learn C++ (or a close facsimile). Don't expect to fire it up and whip out a creative module. It will take some time, and be prepared for all of your locations to be rectangular grids.
Having said all this, NWN is a good game, but it is not the ultimate CRPG. I would recommend it for all CRPG fans, but you may want to let the price drop a tad. In the meantime, I'm crossing my fingers for a FREE monster expansion.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2003
After the release of the Baldur's Gate franchise, players were amazed by the level of depth and scope that could be crammed into one gaming experience. Bioware had successfully captured the D&D tabletop experience, enriching it with superb graphics, a likable cast complete with convincing voice-dialogue, and a fantasy world immersed in epic grandeur. Neverwinter Nights, Bioware's follow-up to the Baldur's Gate series, is a great step forward in developing what players can expect from a role-playing game.
Foregoing the aging Infinity engine, the creators have instead utilized a new fully 3-D Aurora engine to give players a more graphically impressive and technologically current game. Unfortunately, while Aurora is very powerful and 3-D environments is logically the next step in gaming experience, the new engine saps a lot of the vitality found in the Baldur's Gate series. Locations seem constructed by an amateur programmer, with a lot of the buildings, characters, and enemies lacking any sort of inspiration. Even fantastic creatures such as dragons, which should look menacing, are presented as comical by the blocky graphics that Aurora produces. Traversing through environments, especially the dreary city of Neverwinter, is a mundane experience and not particulary captivating.
Gameplay wise, Neverwinter Nights translates faithfully the D&D core rules. Class skills, feats, character kits, and more are all here and much further developed than in the Baldur's Gate series. It's not just decorative either: the skills and feats you choose your character to specialize in can impact how you play the game and how other characters react to you, making Neverwinter Nights a very interactive world. Combat still unfolds the same way, with "to hit" ratio determining your proficiency in battle while your "armor class" determines whether you walk out of a battle with a scratch or in need of serious medical attention. You gain levels much quicker than you would in Baldur's Gate, which can be a good thing until your character becomes near-invincible towards the end of the story and the game becomes less and less of a challenge. But this can all be remedied by cranking up the difficulty factor of the game if you don't want to slaughter through hordes of enemies with relative ease.
The interface of Neverwinter Nights is arguably an improvement over Baldur's Gate. Character Sheets, Inventory Screen, Journal and Map are all one click away and hover transparantly over the game so you can still guide your character as you ransack through your posessions or determine which location to visit next. It's an innovative idea, but it furthers the impression that Neverwinter Nights is more of a Beta version of a greater game rather than a finished product. The interface is too simplistic for its own good, reminding the audience that they're playing a game instead of immersing them in the Dungeon and Dragons experience.
In the end, Neverwinter Nights is a great accomplishment but a rather flawed and forgettable game. The graphic engine for Temple of Elemental Evil is much more elegant and beautiful, and you'll miss the group chattering of your Baldur's Gate party when you can only travel with one other companion in the Neverwinter cycle. Bioware is capable of producing a much more ambitious and rich D&D experience, and if they can strike the right balance between TOEE's graphics and interface, NWN's improvement of the class system especially prestige class, and Baldur Gate's memorable cast, main plot, and subplots, then a truly remarkable game can be concieved. Until then, the company's upcoming "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" should satisfy fans for now who are still waiting for the perfect D&D game.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2003
There are so many reviews that have been posted that all of the major plusses and minuses have been addressed. The one thing I am writing to emphasize is that your enjoyment of this game will depend on two things: 1) do you love pen and paper roleplaying and 2) do you intend to play NWN online?
Think of NWN as pen and paper role playing taken to the next level. The engine itself is a facilitator to bring a diverse group of gamers together from around the world for a game session. If you would never play a pen and paper game session in the first place, forget about NWN because it will be nothing special to you. If the idea of seeing what technology can do to good old fashion pen and paper role-playing is appealing -- check out NWN.
Likewise, if you are planning to play this game as a single-player RPG then skip it -- there are better single-player RPGs out there. Where the game really shines is when you play it online with other players or to play other MODs that fans have developed. If you are looking for the next Diablo, Baldur's Gate or Icewindale, NWN is not it.
That said, I love pen and paper role play and I play NWN online and I love this game.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2002
I have always wanted to get completly addicted to a game. I've seen my friends do it, talk about people they know on-line, make webpages, just go all out. Never been able to do that... till now. If you are a fan of RPG's, then you must have this game. I grew up with D&D and other role-playing games (took me years to convince my grandmother that I was NOT going to go on a killing spree because I played dungeons and dragons), and this is what it is all about. Granted, there are things you can do in the PnP (pen and paper) that you can't here, but it would be impossible to duplicate the human imagination onto the computer.
To tell the truth, the single player only gets about 3 stars. I enjoyed it, beat it in about a weeks time. Alot of plot twists and all. Also, I should confess, I did almost give up on the game when I first tryed multiplayer. Finding a random game is a mess on gamespy. Fortanly I found a web-site that matches real players up with games. I now run a weekly game that I built myself with the toolset, and play in a couple. Everyone roleplays, everyone stays in character. Nobody worries about what level their character is, just because the people I play with are more worried about the story being told to them. Yes, I have played everquest and diablo 2, and if the most important thing to you is making sure your character is a high level, then more power to you. This is a game about story.. but you have to find the right people (my e-mail should be up there, I will tell you the site to go to if you are a serious role-player).
Also, I have to mention the toolset. I have NO knowlage of the scripting, I do not have the world builders guild, but I had to start running the module that I made twice a week because of how many people wanted to play it and couldn't because my regular game was full. It takes a couple of hours of playing around, doing a search or two on the bioware forums if you need a qustion answered (or knowing someone who did it already), but after that, I can make a new dungeon with monsters and a plot to why the players would ever want to go there in about 20 minutes.
To end.. just get this game if you are a true role-playing game fan.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2004
If I could think of a way to best describe Neverwinter Nights, it would be Diablo meets Baldur's Gate. The game is made by the same people that designed Baldur's Gate but it's more of a mainstream "hack and slash" adventure than an epic RPG. Don't get me wrong, the in-game story is great but it just doesn't feel like a classic RPG. One reason for this might be because of the easy-to-use Aurora Toolset. If you've ever messed around with PC game editors, this one will probably be the easiest custom content maker you'll ever use. It was designed that way so that D&D fans everywhere could quickly create their own adventures. (The game even allows you to act as a Dungeon Master with your spiffy new adventures.) Unfortunately, the official adventure included with Neverwinter Nights also uses the same toolset that was designed for "Joe Schmoe" and something probably gets lost in the process because each map uses the same same grid design and 3-D structures. Frankly, most maps just feel the same and after all is said and done, the offical campaign in NWN comes across as an average gaming experience. Keep in mind too that while it's very easy to place items and creatures with the toolset, you'll need a basic knowledge of programming to script actions in your module. If you're convinced that this game is for you, check out the newer Neverwinter Nights Gold which comes with the original game as well as the first expansion (Shadows of Undrentide). You may even want to wait a little longer because the second and last expansion (Hordes of the Underdark) just came out and undoubtedly, it will soon be packaged in a newer "platinum" edition. Make sure you check the official Bioware website so that you can download one of the many custom adventures designed by gamers. There is also a fairly large online community and many gamers have set up their own servers that are up and running 24/7 for online D&D fun. I had a good time with Neverwinter Nights, but not everyone may find the game as enjoyable, especially if they don't like online play or the easy-to-use toolset. If you enjoy the feel and gameplay of NWN, it has an extremely long lifespan because of the online community, but many gamers don't find the game that appealing to begin with.