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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1800 MHz    RAM: 999 MB    Hard Disk: 6500 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 128 MB VRAM


Neverwinter Nights 2
September 17, 2008 | Michael Wuerthele
Pages:123Gallery


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It was sometime in the late seventies, maybe even my particularly formative year of 1977. For the first time, I set my eyes on the Red Box Basic Dungeons and Dragons set somewhere in Boston. To be honest, I think it may have been at a museum there! Wheels were put in motion, and I had a red box of my own to peruse on the two hour trip home. Of course, that was about a million D&D revisions ago and well before the computer RPG revolution. In 2006, Neverwinter Nights 2 shipped for the PC, and it’s reached the Macintosh platform this year, courtesy Obsidian and Aspyr. 2006 was a long time ago in gaming, and the ruleset that NWN2 was built around has been superceded on the table top by the shiny new 4th edition AD&D rules. Do either of these factors make any difference to you, the Macintosh gamer?

Gameplay
Okay, how in depth do I need to get with Dungeons and Dragons roleplay on a computer? Sure, the relative success of Dungeons and Dragons games has hinged on how faithfully a ruleset is used, but the basic paradigm applies. Get mission, get waylaid on the way in a random encounter, rest for a while, hit the adventure proper. This inherent simplicity obscures a lot of what makes roleplaying games fun- character creation. Neverwinter Nights 2 will allow you to import Neverwinter Nights 1 characters, but I found that making new characters out of whole cloth was a lot more fun than importing older characters. Customize everything! Skill trees, character appearance, height, weight, the whole deal.

Here’s where it starts to get a little harder to deal with. The opening tutorial for the game is a town festival. In the festival, you learn the User Interface skills you need to complete the game. As with most tutorial levels, the pacing nears intolerable. I’m not a hardcore gamer by any means, and sadly I have to consider myself more of a casual gamer these days. If a game seems like work, then it isn’t much of a game, is it? If you don’t find yourself invested in the game, you may not even see this part through because of a confluence of factors- the pacing is horrible, and the framerate is slideshow bad. At first, I thought it was because of the video card in my Mac Pro. It isn’t listed as being supported by Aspyr. “Fine,” I said, “I’ll replace it with a X1900 I’ve got about.” Bad choice. There’s just too much going on in the West Harbor festival. So, I shut down the game again, reinstalled the 8800GT and went back to it. You can, of course, skip the tutorial, but you’d be robbing yourself of experience and “phat lewt” as the kiddies say. It’s a wash, really. If I want a slideshow, I’d browse Flickr!

Slogging through the 45 minute introduction was fine, and allowed me to get to the meat of the game. Well, okay. Mostly the meat of the game. Since Neverwinter Nights 2 is scaled up a bit from Neverwinter Nights 1, the rat grinding for initial experience has been replaced with Githankyi and Grey Dwarves grinding, but whatever works. The game does start slowly, as most RPGs do. A slow start is fine, but it can be argued that perhaps game 2 in a series may not have to start as slowly as it does. Even the most lop-sided character generated in character creation will have very little trouble or tactical challenge with the combats well into Act II. Note to readers- if you have any experience with this type of hybrid real-time play common in Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Knights of the Old Republic, then play on Hardcore from the start!



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