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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: NWN 2 OC Review

Default RPGWatch Feature: NWN 2 OC Review

April 29th, 2007, 11:20
Our latest feature is a review of NWN 2, with a focus on the Original Campaign. This game has been widely reviewed by other sites before us, so we've taken a more direct approach with this critique on the assumption that most of our readers are familiar with the basic features. In addition, we also have opinions from multiple editors. Here's a snip:
More frustrations: I played a caster and in one section had with me a tank, a druid and a second caster. Imagine my horror when we entered an area where magic wouldn’t work, without prior warning. I could have reloaded with a different group, but that’s not how I play. Tactics; what tactics? I enjoy tactical combat, as opposed to hack and slash. So what happens with NWN 2? You set up your tactics; casters to the rear, tanks up front, with your tanks held so the casters can drop in a couple of ‘softening up’ area of effect spells, and what happens? Up pops a cutscene that destroys all your work and when it’s over, your casters are in the front line and you’re surrounded by enemies. My screams of anger and frustration could be heard far and wide.
Read it all here and we'd love to hear your comments on both the review and the format.
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April 29th, 2007, 11:20
A refreshing review, I still haven't played NWN2 as I really didn't enjoy NWN OC. Sadly I've never been motivated to give it another go. Can't say I really fancy NWN2 either…

On the other hand now I really fancy playing BG2 again!

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April 29th, 2007, 12:07
I think Mike said well when he adressed that the short comings are subjective and in the eye of the beholder. For example as an average non native English speaker the grammar or its lack thereof never catched my eye. Personally I agree with few of the annoyances Corwin wrote about and some that he didn't write like Multiplayer crashes. Ofcourse it's the little things that keep annoying you until you can bear to play a game no longer. But all in all the bugs, slow framerate and other problems could have been adressed in one paragraph in the review instead of making it the focus.

But then I never played the game from straight retail version, so I don't know how bad it was at the beginning. When the game hit EU there was already patch or two available. The patch support for this game has been intense and with the upcoming expansion pack Obsidian is sure to continue it, so yeah, the game's condition will get better in time.

The review's format is good, summaries are nice and especially the other editor comments in the end were appreciated.
Last edited by Surlent; April 29th, 2007 at 16:00.
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April 29th, 2007, 12:22
I plan to do a shorter follow up on the MP and the DMC in the next week or two. This review dealt entirely with the OC played as an SP campaign!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 29th, 2007, 13:41
Well, I agree with most of the article, but not with all of it. While I too found that the models are fairly ugly I don't think that the environment itself is. If you have a high end pc the game looks actually way better than Gothic 3…

One shouldn't be too hard on the developers, they had to work with an editor that isn't exactely easy to handle (I would have wished if the author(s) had at least mentioned the toolset - after all it's part of what you buy).

What's really sad is, that you can build way better campaigns with the toolset than Obsidian did.
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April 29th, 2007, 15:30
Nice read, good job Corwin (and txa and dhruin). I have to disagree in some areas. Combat was just far too easy to bother with puppet mode, and far to excessive. Party members doing something stupid or not equaled faster win on AI. And, party members are invincible, and resting very quick and simple, so all you needed was one person to survive.

I can honestly say I’ve never played a game with worse combat, and basic combat mechanics. The best interface in the world, and the best AI in the world, can’t make up for combat so easy I could let my three year old daughter take over for me while I went to have a cigarette and piss.

I played on the highest difficulty, and if I remember right, aoe spells hurt party members, so the poor AI compounded the issue, but not micromanaging still was faster and easier (including resting at the end) then actually getting involved, myself, in the combat decision making.

The piss poor, ridiculously easy, overabundant combat also had a residual detrimental effect on every other aspect of the game, such as loot. There was far too much loot, and after about 15 hours of playing I basically stopped wasting my time upgrading, or switching loot between members when forced to take someone else.

And, of course, combat being as hands-off, easy, un-interactive, un-involving, and un-rewarding as it is, it kind of takes the fun out of character building. And of course, party synergy is just wasted, so why even have a party? For talking of course.

If they removed all but the key battles, and had the key battles play out in cut-scenes that you watch, and got rid of everything related to combat, such as character building and loot, it would be a very entertaining choose your own adventure animated graphic novel that I might possibly be interested in seeing how the story unfolds. But, if combat is going to be a huge focus of the game, and the only interesting part of the game is story and party interaction, why would I want to be tortured with the worst combat in an rpg the world has ever seen for most of the game.

I could be wrong and just have missed something that everyone else gets, and to disprove myself I point to this review, every other review, and the lack of people talking about this I general. If combat (combat alone, despite interface and AI problems) was not that bad what was good about it? What got you through the endless, neverending, retarded battles? I have a theory: crpg players are so used to craptastic combat they are actually immune to it. They want it to be as fast as possible so they can just get to the content they like. If it’s good or bad doesn’t even enter the mind.

Well, that’s my take. Very interesting review. Well written and good points. I like the thoughts from other staff to get the broader opinion, and it also will show that staff members like different things and that one staff’s review doesn’t encompass the thoughts of the whole site.
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April 29th, 2007, 16:02
I have played NWN2 a lot myself too and I agree with some of Corwin's points, but not all of them. I had a lot of fun playing the OC (did it with v1.01) despite its shortcomings. So feel it was a game worth its money.

Some months earlier I bought Oblivion and even though the game had great graphics I felt the game was so plain boring I never bothered to finish it. I felt cheated for wasting a lot of money on such a boring game. I read the good reviews and noticed good looks is not all. You need a good story and interesting NPC's. Oblivion didn't have that. NWN2 had just that.

Corwin wrote NWN2 was ugly, but I don't agree with that. Playing with v1.01 that was available on November 3rd when the game was released then a lot of graphics had to be turned off. The result was that the game didn't look great. Even people with state of the art PC's and graphics cards had to turn of a lot of graphics details (shadows, lighting, water reflections, water refractions, texture details, AA etc.). So NWN2 was not ugly, it was simply too poorly optimized to have all graphics details on. Therefore nobody could admire the nice graphics. But after every patch the game becomes more and more optimized. With the v1.05 patch most people can have most details on and still have decent FPS. So the beauty of the game starts to appear.

Corwin also said he didn't get what he was buying because the DM module was not in the game from the box (i. e. v1.00). But I don't think that's fair to say. At the release date v1.01 was available and it contained the DM module. So it was available at the release date. Just not on the DVD. Obsidian said several months ahead of release date that the DM module would not be part of NWN2 v1.00, but would be added soon after. They managed to do it in v1.01.

Corwin has made several good points about shortcomings of the game when it was released. The builders find the toolset too complex and cumbersome. That means it takes longer to make modules. We notice that now 6 months after release. There simply aren't that many modules around to play yet.

The DM module lacked many functions and only now with v1.05 it contains most of what the DM needs to have fun with his players. And it can still be improved.

The AI was awful to put it simple. So we had to use puppet mode to have any chance to survive. E. g. Elanee changed into a bear all the time and never cast any spells. That made SP OC more cumbersome than it could have been. But v1.05 has introduced a much better AI that people find is quite good. With this AI the OC is fun to play and you don't need to puppet your NPC's.

The camera controls at v1.01 was not the best, but I got used to it. Obsidian made the camera better in each patch and now I don't have any complaints.

The MP module of NWN2 is not very stable and it's in this area NWN2 still lacks the most. But Obsidian has said they had to give priority to the SP players and fixing the OC bugs. Now they have with v1.05 come far with doing just that. So v1.06 and further patches will focus on MP and making the toolset easier to use. That is very important because many module designers have been reluctant to make MP modules because it was too unstable. When the MP gets fixed too then the designers can focus upon making great MP modules. That's very important for the future of NWN2.

I didn't like forced NPC's in NWN2 OC either. But I still had fun with the main story. Obsidian said recently they have learnt their lesson from the bad feedback from the players and the expansion Mask of the Betrayer will not force any NPC's on the player.

I agree with Corwin that it's stupid the OC only used the skills of the main character and not the NPCs. But it's not a showstopper. You can easily solve the game without having high diplomacy skills. You simply get different answers from the NPC's with a high diplomacy skill. But it's poor design to not take into account the highest skill of the group when trying to do something. But this is not a part of the NWN2 engine. It's simply poor programming in the NWN2 OC scripts. Other module designers have managed to do this properly.

All the cutscenes in the OC was fun in the beginning, but annoying after some time. Especially that your character got teleported to the front so you could initiate the conversation. So you had no chance to use any tactics because the cutscene reset all you had done and teleported the group right in front of the bad guys. But this is only a feature of the OC. I noticed some player scripts that made the PC select a walking formation etc. similar to BG2. The module designer could avoid using cutscenes etc. So it doesn't mean the player made modules would suffer from the same thing.

It was also annoying when you played MP and one character moved into another location then the entire group got teleported too. Obsidian made this because the OC had so much important information regarding the NPC's that they didn't want anyone to miss it. But it makes it much harder to e. g. let the rogue scout ahead and tell the party to follow when it's safe. It's also annoying that all other characters are frozen when the lead character is talking to an NPC. This was done so everyone could listen to the conversation. But nobody wants to listen to a character bartering when trying to sell stuff. I don't look forward to all the situations when CM or Corwin will get back to town and sell their loot. My character can't even explore the town, but will stay frozen until they finish this matter.

Obsidian is making great progress with patching the game and v1.05 is actually quite good for SP. I feel v1.05 is the version that should have been released the first time. This version is optimized, stable and doesn't have too many bugs. But we all know the reason NWN2 was rushed to the market. It was not because of Obsidian, but because of Atari being almost bankrupt. Atari needed to get the money for NWN2 even when the game was in beta state. So blame Atari and not Obsidian that the game was rushed to the market.

Corwin also complained about the problems he had when he entered a no magic zone in the OC campaign. I entered the same and had no problems whatsoever. I think he took a big risk forming a group around 1 sorcerer, 1 wizard, 1 druid and 1 fighter. I was playing a paladin and my group consisted of 1 paladin, 1 fighter, 1 druid and 1 wizard (sometimes 1 cleric). With this group I had no problems at all.

I know Corwin likes to play spellcasters, but they are very vulnerable. Especially at low levels. Obsidian decided to give the PCs and NPCs max HPs at every level up. But they did NOT max the damage from spells from spellcasters. This means it's much harder for spellcasters to kill monsters and NPCs that it should have been according to the DnD rules. E. g. a level 5 fighter with 14 con would have 60hp in NWN2, but he would have on average 38hp in DnD. A fireball from a level 11 wizard would kill the DnD fighter if he failed his saving throw. But you need a level 18 wizard make the same kill with a fireball in NWN2. So NWN2 is shifted towards fighters. I would therefore have at least 50% of my group being fighters (regular fighters, paladins, rangers, barbarians etc.). I don't think it's poor module design that Corwin had such big problems because he entered a no magic zone and 3 of 4 of his characters were spellcasters.

I also find it strange Corwin writes a review NOW when v1.05 is out and he bases his review upon his experiences with v1.01. If he had posted his review in November 2006 then he would have had many valid points. But several of his complaints are fixed now with v1.05. Isn't it better to write reviews in RPGWatch with the current patch available and not the patch that was available when the game was released. Nobody is interested in knowing about the bugs that existed 6 months ago if they read a review now to consider whether they should buy the game or not.

I think Corwin's negative NWN2 review may scare potential NWN2 players from buying the game and start playing it. He wrote his review based upon his experiences when he played it. But the game is in a much better state now than then. Most players have told Obsidian that with v1.05 they can finally enjoy the games as it was intended. Some bugs still remain and are worked upon (like the stealth bug). The main thing is that Obsidian is working hard to make the game better and better. It's great fun to play now and it will only become even more fun in the future.

Obsidian know the mistakes they made with NWN2 (releasing it too early, forcing NPCs on the players etc.). They have learnt from that and with the upcoming expansion I believe we will have an even better campaign that most of us will truly enjoy. So I think a review NOW of NWN2 should be more positive that Corwin's review was. His review would be great if it had been posted some months ago when many players were frustrated with all Corwin commented upon. But the game is much better today than it was then.

I think NWN2 deserves a score of 9/10 today. When it was released it deserved a 7/10 because it was released prematurely and was buggy and not optimized at all. But please give Obsidian credit for working hard to patch their game. They have no plans to stop their patching 6 months after release. Some others games I have bought maybe made 1-2 patches and stopped supporting it. Obsidian is doing a great job and I'm happy NWN2 is getting better and better every month. The next patches (from v1.06) will fix the MP issues. That is very important to the RPGWatch playing group (Corwin, CM, Taxen and me).

But I also feel Corwin's review had many valid points and it was interesting for me to read. I only wished he had focused his review upon playing NWN2 OC with patch v1.05. Then he e. g. wouldn't have been frustrated with the AI because it's fixed now.

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April 29th, 2007, 16:11
A fair Review - once again a Game that could be great, but is only mediocre - yet I still hope for the expansions, future-patches and especially Community-Content.

It might turn from an ugly duckling into a swan yet

The Germans are a cruel race. Their operas last for six hours and they have no word for "fluffy".

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April 29th, 2007, 16:17
I found it interesting that no one mentioned that the story (of the OC) was actually fucking horrible. I don't think they left out just one damn fantasy cliché.
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April 29th, 2007, 16:33
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
I found it interesting that no one mentioned that the story (of the OC) was actually fucking horrible. I don't think they left out just one damn fantasy cliché.
I don't think the story was horrible. I didn't like the ending and felt it was rushed. Chapter 2 was the best imho. NWN2 OC was much better than NWN1 OC. I was not particularly fond of the end of the module from the time we entered the realm of the KoS until we defeated him. It was bland and boring and the end fight was not what I had hoped for. The ending sucked big time. It appeared we all died under a pile of rocks. But according to the expansion we instead were teleported to another plane.

When I compare the story of NWN2 with e. g. Oblivion I think it was great. Oblivion's story was so boring I didn't even bother to finish it. I prefer more linear stories compared to the free story of e. g. Oblivion. In Oblivion I just explored and found some caves I could explore and maybe kill some monsters and find some loot. It became so tedious and repetitive. The story of NWN2 always made me want to play a little bit more to know what would happen next. That is a sign of a good story.

But I didn't buy NWN2 only for the OC. I bought NWN2 for the chance to play all the player modules that will appear with Corwin, CM and Taxen. THEN we have real fun. We had many great NWN1 gaming experiences with player modules and I hope for the same with NWN2.

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April 29th, 2007, 16:42
After 2 1/2 years of WoW I'm used to bad, bad storylines - at least no one wanted 20 Wolf-Tails or 15 boarsnouts

The Germans are a cruel race. Their operas last for six hours and they have no word for "fluffy".

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April 29th, 2007, 16:45
Originally Posted by Peter Stauffenberg View Post
When I compare the story of NWN2 with e. g. Oblivion I think it was great. Oblivion's story was so boring I didn't even bother to finish it. I prefer more linear stories compared to the free story of e. g. Oblivion. In Oblivion I just explored and found some caves I could explore and maybe kill some monsters and find some loot. It became so tedious and repetitive. The story of NWN2 always made me want to play a little bit more to know what would happen next. That is a sign of a good story.
Guess it's a matter of taste… I was pretty much done with the OC when they told me that I was a foster child and when they came up with that magical shard. Honestly I cannot stand it anymore. I have nothing against traditional fantasy motifs, but do they really have to use every single cliché that the fantasy genre has ever witnessed? If I play a fantasy rpg nowadays I always have the feeling that I'm experiencing one constant stream of deja vus…
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April 29th, 2007, 18:12
Good review, Corwin.

Originally Posted by Peter Stauffenberg View Post
When I compare the story of NWN2 with e. g. Oblivion I think it was great.
A lot of things are great if you use Oblivion as a measuring stick.

Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks
I was pretty much done with the OC when they told me that I was a foster child and when they came up with that magical shard. Honestly I cannot stand it anymore. I have nothing against traditional fantasy motifs, but do they really have to use every single cliché that the fantasy genre has ever witnessed? If I play a fantasy rpg nowadays I always have the feeling that I'm experiencing one constant stream of deja vus…
Completely agree. You may want to read my rant on this very topic, creatively called
Why Fantasy RPGs Suck:
http://www.rpgcodex.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=18373
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April 29th, 2007, 18:30
NWN2 OC is a great game and it's too bad people get caught up in various negative issues. The story is very good. The quests are very good. The combat is good (albeit easy through the first half), just turn on puppet mode to play like BG2 and all the bad AI goes away. The cut scene issue is a minor issue which doesn't happen often and some of those times it makes sense as part of the scene. You say you want warning when a no-magic area is coming up?

How about a sign on the screen saying "Oh by the way the next area doesn't allow magic so take your wizard/sorceror out of the lineup" — yeah that's realistic immersion (sarcasm).

This is very frustrating that people put such negativity in reviews of one of the only two very good single player crpg's to come out in the past several years (Oblivion certainly had its share of negativity also with its scaling opponents and other similar issues). That's why they don't make these any more (not including the action-rpg's which are not my cup of tea) — there are so many details and they can't please all of the people all of the time with the details.
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April 29th, 2007, 18:42
I guess Corwin should have lied about how he felt about the game to make people happy. You f-up again Corwin. Your review has been debunked and you have been exposed as the liar you are. How much did you get paid for this false review by the corporate machine of propoganda?
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April 29th, 2007, 18:48
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
I guess Corwin should have lied about how he felt about the game to make people happy. You f-up again Corwin. Your review has been debunked and you have been exposed as the liar you are. How much did you get paid for this false review by the corporate machine of propoganda?
Hmmm?
Read it all here and we'd love to hear your comments on both the review and the format.
They asked for comments… and people commented on the review. Can't expect that everyone has the same opinion about the game…
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April 29th, 2007, 18:51
Dear Sir,

If the review was proven to be lies, why wouldn't they also lie about wanting people to comment on the review. Think about it.
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April 29th, 2007, 19:00
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
Dear Sir,

If the review was proven to be lies, why wouldn't they also lie about wanting people to comment on the review. Think about it.
Sorry mate, I don't get it… I either misunderstood you or missed something. Who said anything that all this were lies?
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April 29th, 2007, 19:11
Dear Sir,

If it wasn't lies it would be true. The corporations have blinded you with greed and lust. Open your eyes! Look around! Wake up! If they wanted to hear what you had to say, why would they say something else in the first place? If your "input" "mattered" don't you think the "powers-that-be" wouldn't have to pay people money to say it? We have a bunch of lemmings running off the cliff and all you can talk about is comments on debunked reviews. We have to look at the big picture. This isn't about you and me, it's about THEM!!! Can't you see?
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April 29th, 2007, 19:14
I wonder what would have happened if I had hooked into the very early cRPG's on the Apple ][ rather than Castle Wolfenstein in ~1980 … if I had later hooked into early 90's cRPG's rather than Wolf 3D and then Doom and Dark Forces … or even if I had liked Diablo very much when my wife bought it for me at release … but I got into RPG's with NWN, so NWN2 feels like coming home. That makes me a bit biased, perhaps, but despite the hundreds of games (> 200 reviews!) I played last year across four platforms NWN2 stood out as one of my faces. I can appreciate the criticism, but I still like it quite a bit.

— Mike
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