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Neverwinter Nights

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Bioware
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Neverwinter Nights takes the Forgotten Realms world into the realm of 3D, and all for the better. Excellent particle effects and lighting provide for not only spectacular looking spells, but detailed and diverse worlds and also their inhabitants. Both indoor and outdoor scenes are densely populated with buildings and people, all of which look the part. The camera angles offered navigate well around walls, which will become transparent if you ever happen to be behind one.

If you disregard the music completely, the sound effects alone would be good enough to get you through the game. But you don't want to disregard the music at all, as it both fits the setting and is of good quality. The voice acting is on spot as well, completing a well-rounded set of sonic elements.


Gameplay:

Neverwinter Nights is a role playing game based on the Dungeons and Dragons rules system. For those of you not familiar with games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale, as NN takes after, these are not your average video game RPGs. With deep plots, plenty of action, and intricate gameplay systems, these games have risen to the top of their genre.

The plot of Neverwinter Nights centers on a plague that has stricken the good town of Neverwinter. As one of the many heroes called to the rescue, it is your task to find the source of the problem, uncovering surprises, plot twists, friends, and foes along the way.

As you pick your character, you must decide on their race, class, and special abilities. There are plenty of each, making for many possible combinations, but it takes a veteran of the system to create the perfectly balanced character. This isn't the point of character creation, though. Being skilled in everything is impossible, and this is where the NPC adventurers come in. There are six different adventurers for hire within the town of Neverwinter, all of which are skilled in certain areas like fighting or lock-picking. Hiring an adventurer will not only balance out your skills, but it will also offer more adventures which will reveal more of the story about your mercenary companions.

Quests are what drives the game forward, and most of your quests will be to further the main plot. However, there are plenty of side quests that are completely optional, but reward you well in both gold and information.

Though the Single Player mode offers plenty of replay value, not to mention a long enough story, the Multiplayer options push Neverwinter Nights beyond the call of duty. You can either join a group of other people online and take a shot at the game with them, or you can be a Dungeon Master, giving you complete control over the flow of the game for another group of players.

The icing on the cake is the Toolset for building your own adventures. This offers all of the units, items, structures, and locations that the developers used to make the game. You can create almost any adventure you can think of, and then take it on the net to use in Multiplayer games, or just play it by yourself. Although this item of the game takes a lot of practice to master, the rewards are well worth it.


Difficulty:

Neverwinter Nights is very accessible to both veterans of the genre and newcomers who don't have a clue about what THAC0 is. Not only are there varying difficulty setting, advancing your stats in the game can be handled by the player, or you can trust the computer to pick the best decision for you. All in all, a good system to get newbies into the game as fast as possible, and keep them there, and also letting veterans tinker with all the details they can handle.

Game Mechanics:

Though it uses a traditional isometric view, Neverwinter Nights allows you to zoom in and around to your heart's content. Peeking around corners and getting a better angle on the action is as easy as moving the mouse, and as far as I can remember, that's pretty easy.

Moving your character works on a point and click basis, or you can just hold down the mouse button and lead the guy around on a sort of invisible string. A little better pathfinding AI could have been used here, as your avatar and any NPC following them seem to get stuck on objects that a blind man could avoid. Yet with a little patience and determination, getting from point A to point B isn't all that hard, and doesn't take away form the game all that much after some practice.

The combat system is based totally on skill and stat points, as you click on your target and let your character work their magic. Issuing orders to your NPC follower is as easy as if they were your own character, making for a combat system that adds much to the already smooth flow of the game.

If you've always been afraid of RPG's and their infamous random battle system, fear not. NN combines exciting action with all the tiny details of its pen and paper predecessors. Whether you're an old fan or new to these games, Neverwinter Nights is accessible as it is excellent, and definitely worth a look.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Pentium II 450 MHz or AMD K6 450 MHz; Windows 95/98/ME/2000SP2/XP; 96 MB RAM; DirectX 8.1. 16 MB TNT2-class OpenGL 1.2 compliant video card; DirectX certified sound card; 56k modem, IPX or TCP/IP via LAN or Internet for multiplayer
 

Test System:



Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Mystery of the Mummy Windows Operation Flashpoint Gold

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated