|Publisher: MacSoft Genre: Adventure & RPG Expansion For: Neverwinter Nights|
|Min OS X: 10.2.6 CPU: G4 @ 450 MHz RAM: 256 MB Graphics: 32 MB VRAM|
|Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide|
September 14, 2004 | Dustin Smith
Note: Since the expansion packs were released at the same time we've combined the two expansion packs into one review. You can find the review of Hordes of the Underdark here (which is identical to this review except for the screenshots).
It was a fabulous surprise when two weeks ago I was meandering to my house from getting the mail and I see this package sitting on my doorstep. Not recognizing whom it was from, but wondering why it was addressed to me, I went ahead and opened it to happily find the next two installments in the exceedingly popular RPG “Neverwinter Nights”.
For those of you who do NOT know “Neverwinter Nights” takes the Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 rules and shoves them into this epic game for an experience unlike anything we Mac users have ever seen. From the ancient cities of Netheril to the hideous underground beauty of the Underdark I found myself immersed in a world of wonder I couldn’t pull myself away from. Unfortunately I had to occasionally, because my girlfriend threatened to break up with me and I hadn’t taken a shower in days. After a pseudo-“come to Jesus” meeting with her and a couple hot baths I am here to say those that enjoyed the original NWN will undoubtedly be captured once again by “Shadows of Undrentide” (SoU) and “Hordes of the Underdark” (HotU).
Rehashed or just Renewed?I think that the saying, “Once you’ve found a good thing, stick with it” works well with the graphical standards of these games. The graphics haven’t improved much at all, which still means they are gorgeous (look at all of the pretty particle effects and shadows!), until HotU, so they end up feeling a teensy-tiny bit dated. But fortunately in HotU you will start to notice some improvement on graphical detail, especially noticeable in the many in-game cut scenes and a few of the enemies. When you get there just pause the game and stare at the Balors, Mephistopheles, and the Beholders! And I’m not even getting into the sheer terrifying beauty of the Dracolich!
The landscape around you changes dramatically as well. While traversing through the two expansions you will travel from deserts, to ancient ruins, and to the fabled Underdark. The tile-sets of the new areas, especially certain parts of the Underdark are very impressive, and mostly because I wasn’t looking at a city or town tile-set the entire game I was more motivated to see what other exotic locales I could uncover.
For those of you that rely on framerate there were only a few times in each game where the framerate unusually stuttered. I say unusually because you kind of expect the frames per second (FPS) to decrease when you have hordes of enemies on the screen, but when you are just wandering around and the FPS starts becoming choppy is unusual. There were a couple instances where it became unplayable and I actually had to quit, restarted the computer for safety’s sake, and reboot the game. Fortunately that immediately fixed whatever the problem was.