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Default RPGWatch Feature: NWN 2 OC Review

April 29th, 2007, 20:07
I agree with a lot of the points made in the review but I still thought it was a bit harsh.

The overall graphics are not "ugly", you can't compare everything to Oblivion - that game just set the bar incredibly high. And it also goofed as far as character face models. In Oblivion it's actually jarring - you have all this beautiful, photo-realistic scenery marred by some hideously textured NPC face. In NWN2 the player models fit the scenery more or less.

I also didn't think the gameplay was that bad - what ruined the majority of it were technical issues such as the camera/view angles and the NPC combat behavior. It WAS too linear but that didn't bother me TOO much since the characters were full of personality, dialog was well written and the story was decent.

The interface seems clunky at first but it actually turns out it's more intuitive than NWN's radial menus.

Don't get me wrong, I hardly think the game was perfect and I agree with most of the issues but I would rather play NWN2 out of the box than play NWN1's OC again. Actually, I'd rather rip my eyelids and pour salt in the wounds. That was THE dullest, most tedious RPG I've EVER played. Shame on Bioware.

As for NWN2, you were 100% spot on here: "needed more time and a lot more playtesting by gamers".

But I still don't think the OC was dissappointing at all. Fixing all the technical issues (camera, NPC combat behaviour, slowdown, add more functionality to map, improve inventory management (this was REALLY frustrating), etc.) would improve the game 100%. Hopefully they spend some extra time on the expansion to improve some of these issues and possibly make it less linear.
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April 29th, 2007, 20:11
I kind of agree, when I saw OC it thought it was a review of just the camaign and not the mechanics. For instance, I'm not a huge NWN fan (or a fan at all) but people that didn't like the OC didn't like the OC, and actually liked all the mechanics of NWN. Of course, everyone will have different opinions on what OC means I guess. To me, OC in a nwn games just means the campaign only.
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April 29th, 2007, 21:16
Well, the mechanics that ship with the OC are good portion of what make the OC. They could have added whatever functionality that they wanted to for the sole purpose of making the OC better. But they didn't.
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April 30th, 2007, 00:23
Argh, what the hell is it with everyone and this fetish with "negativity"?

Being positive all the time doesn't help make the game any better come patch time.

I really don't see how anyone could like the OC unless they had nothing better to do, I'll admit it has it's moments, but everything else about it is depressing, combat is horribly boring, and the storyline's mediocre; Why must multiplayer be so meh?

I really feel ripped off paying 59.99 for it, but I've been making alot of mistakes like that when it comes to getting a good game.

I should have spent my money on Oblivion instead, atleast I might be able to explore and have some challenging combat.

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April 30th, 2007, 00:28
Originally Posted by Peter Stauffenberg View Post
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.
Sorry, Peter, but you're giving them a free pass. 9/10?.

I don't want to use the AI because then I might as well be playing Dungeon Siege - click on the enemy, Qara nukes everything in sight. Rest. Move on to next encounter. I find that boring.

One of the main advantages of a party is the more strategic combat, which doesn't really exist if they just do their own thing, so I want Puppet Mode on.

Let's have a look at some of the v1.05 additions:

-Select All (Yay!)
-Rubberbanding (Yay! But why do I have to hold CRTL?)
-Improved AI (Good - but see above about playing Dungeon Siege)

However….

-I can't open doors or loot when when everyone is selected, which means I have to deselect, loot, then reselect. Hello?
-Clicking a character doesn't deselect everyone. I have to click the Select All again.
-No formations at all, so everyone runs in a clump until the faster characters gets in front and then block the doorways.
-No ability to switch the AI on and off from the game screen.

All of these things were present in Baldur's Gate, nearly 10 years ago.

In addition, are these not valid complaints?
-The Mode bar has only just been fixed
-The inventory layout is silly. I have a hi-res screen - use the real estate
-Forced character changes. Tell me why Bishop was a necessary character.
-Linear
-The opening is tedious and whole foster child, broken magical sword thing is silly

Now, the campaign does get a lot better. It's a shame they wasted good opportunities to make things less linear (like, not rigging the trial or making the Stronghold really count) but I quite enjoyed it for what it is as when it got going but all those annoyances are still there and no way could I give them 9/10 for a linear campaign with all those technical issues.

If you read my comments, you'll see they were given credit for 1.05 but c'mon, it's 6 months after release and the Select All doesn't even work very well. There's an excellent structure underneath all this and the expansion could well be great but NWN2 is compromised all over the place.

-= RPGWatch =-
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April 30th, 2007, 02:22
Peter, sorry the review didn't get written when the game came out, but I was busy playing Gothic 3 at the time!! There has been much debate about whether a review should be based on the game 'out of the box' (ie. what's ON the game DVD you buy without any patches), or on the game at it's latest patched version. The overwhelming concensus has been to use the 'out of the box' conditions, and perhaps mention the fixes provided by later patches. Therefore, I chose to review based totally on that criteria. I had finished playing before the latest patch was released and wrote the review a few weeks ago. It takes time to get articles ready for posting here, and actually, I was NOT the person originally scheduled to review the game, Kalia was.

My complaint about the 'no magic' area, was not that I wasn't warned, but that it existed at all. Why was it there? What purpose did it serve? ( I mean as a non-magic area). For me it was just one more annoying frustration in a growing list of them!!

For the review, as I have stated earlier, I ignored everything to do with the toolset, MP, etc. That will be covered later. I'd been hoping to play a few decent MP mods first and run a campaign as a DM with the client first, but there really aren't any decent MP mods out there yet which are long enough to give me a good workout!! Trying to play some supposed MP mods with our group has been another lesson in game design frustration as even Peter will acknowledge!! Stay tuned.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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Last edited by Corwin; April 30th, 2007 at 04:39.
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April 30th, 2007, 03:19
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Trying to play some supposed MP mods with out group has been another lesson in game design frustration as even Peter will acknowledge!! Stay tuned.
Then I don't understand why we bother playing NWN2 every Friday night if it's such a frustrating game. I'm sure there are other games around that could be played instead. NWN2 is not frustrating to ME, but that's another story.

I don't think it's very interesting for players to read a review 6 months after release about the state of the game at release time (i. e. out of the box). The state of the game at review time will hopefully be very different. What's the point of posting a review so late after release? Isn't the release supposed to be helpful to players who wonder whether they should purchase the game or not. If I haven't bought the game 6 months after release then surely I want to know about the fixes.

I don't have problems with anti-magic zones. It has been used in other games as well. NWN2 has received a lot of flak from other players, but having 1 area with anti-magic zone was not one of them.

For me it's pretty simple. If I buy a crappy game (like Oblivion) I just put the game on the shelf and tell myself to be careful before buying something from that company again. I don't blame anyone for buying it. I did that because I wanted to see what it was and because I like RPG games in general. But I did it before all the bad reviews came along. I see that many people on this forum tell what a crappy game NWN2 is. Then the solution is simple. Play something else and forget about NWN2. Why become frustrated with a game you don't like? The solution is simple DON'T play it.

I don't have problems with people not liking NWN2. I know some people do like it and therefore there is a big enough market for Obsidian to make an expansion pack and patches still being developed. That's good enough for me.

Another thing I can't understand is why some people (like Dhruin) think it strange I can say I like NWN2 now and give it a 9/10. That is MY opinion. Some of the issues mentioned don't bother me at all. E. g. I have no problems at all with the inventory system. I quickly got used to it. The same with the user interface. I agree that the story about being an orphan is a cliche, but I didn't focus much upon that. It was mentioned in the beginning and I soon forgot about it. I don't get frustrated by such details if the NPC's are fun and the story is good. But again, maybe I'm different from most other players.

Dhruin complains about the select all ability that was added in v1.05. Obsidian will continue to improve on such additions. They said they will add some functionality partly and fix more later because some fixes are difficult. The same will happen to the stealth fix. Some fixes will appear in v1.06 and it will be improved later. So character selection will still be improved. Obsidian listen to suggestions from the gaming community.

Don't get me wrong. Even I see lots of things in NWN2 that could have been done better, but the game is still fun for me. Every game I've played could have been improved imho. It's impossible to make a game that will satisfy everyone.

I think the main problem with NWN2 for many players is that they had such high hopes for it. They believed NWN2 would build on NWN1 just with better graphics and a better engine. But Obsidian told us they received a very old version of the code from Bioware. They did NOT the receive v1.68 NWN1 code, but rather v1.20. So Obsidian had to redesign a lot of the bug fixes from NWN1. That is why a lot of the obvious things from NWN1 weren't solved in NWN2. People tend to forget that NWN1 was not very stable and good right from the box. It took 68 patches before Bioware stopped patching. NWN2 has just received 5 patches and I believe a lot will still be improved.

My biggest concern with NWN2 is that so few modules are being made by the player community.

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April 30th, 2007, 04:20
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
The overwhelming concensus has been to use the 'out of the box' conditions, and perhaps mention the fixes provided by later patches.
Youīre mistaken there. The "overwhelming consensus" was using the latest official version available at the time of reviewing.
I donīt think itīs fair to ignore improvements made to a product when almost everybody either has broadband or at least knows somebody who has. "Out of the box" is a criterion for consoles, where patching is not as simple.
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April 30th, 2007, 04:54
Ah, but I played the Boxed version, with just the initial patch. I don't risk patching once I start playing since it sometimes corrupts savegames, etc. My G3 is still using the 3rd patch from memory.

Don't get me wrong; I don't hate NWN2. I find it disappointing and frustrating. I find the mods frustrating. Like Peter, I want to enjoy MP mods with the game, however, that's difficult right now.

Gorath, we'll have to agree to disagree, unless you can show me some evidence. I clearly remember having this debate back in the Dot days and both there and on other forums, the majority favored reviewing the boxed product.

Peter, in future, we hope to have our reviews out closer to release; please remember, this is the first one we've done here and getting the site up and running properly took first precedence. We're small in number, most work at full time jobs, and this is voluntary work we do here!!

Bottom line on NWN2:- You buy this game for several reasons
1. To play the OC
2. To play SP mods when they're created
3. To play MP mods online with friends (PW's included)
4. To use the toolset to create mods

All I've dealt with so far, is issue 1. If that's the only reason you'd buy the game, then wait and get it at a bargain price. For the rest, as I said earlier, stay tuned!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 30th, 2007, 04:59
But then that gives a free pass to devs and publishers that are perpetuating the "ship it and maybe fix it later" mindset. Why should PC games consistantly be released buggy and broken? Every review that gives a free ride to the companies that do this is making it easier for the next company to do it.

I loved every game from Troika, and I 100% believe only the released versions should be considered in a review.

What kind of precident does reviewing after patches make? If you were to review Bloodlines or ToEE now should the fan patches, that everyone who plays now or that would buy the game today uses or would use, be considered in the review?

When someone reviews Oblivion should they review it with the fan mods that make the game more enjoyable to them? These are all things that should be mentioned, but seperate from the review in my opinion.
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April 30th, 2007, 05:00
Hey, roqua and I agree on something!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 30th, 2007, 05:11
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Ah, but I played the Boxed version, with just the initial patch. I don't risk patching once I start playing since it sometimes corrupts savegames, etc. My G3 is still using the 3rd patch from memory.
Sounds overcautious to me. I usually wait a few days to give hard core fans the chance to ruin their game and then install the patch if nothing spectacular happened.

Gorath, we'll have to agree to disagree, unless you can show me some evidence. I clearly remember having this debate back in the Dot days and both there and on other forums, the majority favored reviewing the boxed product.
Seems Iīm having one of my cryptic days. I meant to say that I donīt remember a discussion about this at the Watch - and if you can make up such a claim I can too! So maybe we should discuss it (again) at the Watch.
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April 30th, 2007, 05:20
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
But then that gives a free pass to devs and publishers that are perpetuating the "ship it and maybe fix it later" mindset. Why should PC games consistantly be released buggy and broken? Every review that gives a free ride to the companies that do this is making it easier for the next company to do it.
But this ignores the reality that almost every RPG gets patched, most of them more than once.
Performance improvements, technical fixes, quest fixes, rebalancing, sometimes more content, removing the CP, adding an editor, etc. After a couple of patches a game can be quite different to the shipped version.
Furthermore itīs normal that a new gold master is made after the final patch. Then the review would be completely outdated.
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April 30th, 2007, 05:31
I dont really understand this criticism I hear about the game being ugly, it looked pretty state-of-the-art from where I was sitting. Baffles me even further when it come from the rpg-purist "graphics dont matter" crowd. I do definitely agree with the cutscene angst tho, watching my meticulous positioning magically rearrange into my most vulnerable party members now enjoying the thrill of front-line combat was enraging, to say the least. There was definitely some things that pissed me off about the game, but I still found myself having a good time with it.

Overall, I think the article did a good job running down the well-known gripes of the game.
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April 30th, 2007, 05:37
I agree that patches and buggy broken games are a reality and also a problem, but what you propose perpetuates the problem and will not change a reality we all wished would be less real. It takes the pressures of of publishers to have the devs finish the game before release.

Another reality is fans fixing games the publishers won't give the green light to devs to fix. Troika would've loved to patch ToEE, Arcanum, and BL a lot more. But Sierra, Atari, and Activision wouldn't let them. But the fans did patch it. And everyone playing BL and ToEE today use a fan patch. Thats a reality, but that doesn't mean the game should be reviewed with a fan patch.

The feedback I've read on Oblivion is that it is only enjoyable after fan made mods are installed. Thats a reality. I haven't played it, but chances are I would like it far more, and enjoy it far more, and if I were a reviewer I would review it better after I let the fans fix it, but that doesn't mean I should review the game with mods.

I like low key games, almost every game I've liked in the past 10 years has been released buggy. I want the games I like to be reviewed well, and even I think the box version should be the one to be reviewed. Its the only way to not only review the game fairly 100 of the time, its the only way to put pressure on game makers and publishers to finish their game and send a message that this buggy broken release crap is unacceptable.

And after the final patch, and a gold master is created, thats the game out of the box, if you buy the final patched game.

Maybe a closing section that recaps the fixes that have been made since release is a fair solution. If you see 6 patches that address the critiques in the game, the reader gets a fair review of the released game, and knows that the devs have fixed those or not.
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April 30th, 2007, 06:08
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
I agree that patches and buggy broken games are a reality and also a problem, but what you propose perpetuates the problem and will not change a reality we all wished would be less real. It takes the pressures of of publishers to have the devs finish the game before release.
RPGs outside the AAA segment are always buggy or at least unfinished. Ignoring patches leads to bad reviews - which do not reflect the gameīs real status after the patches made in the time it took us to write the article. Bad reviews lead to bad sales. Bad sales lead to less RPGs. Doesnīt sound like a good solution to this problem.
Often the reason for an unfinished boxed version is something else. Letīs say the distributor (or big customer like Toys 'r' Us) pays the publisher 6 months after delivery. Then another 1-3 months later the dev gets his royalties, if he gets any. Thatīs not an unusual timeframe. Shipping 2-3 weeks early and releasing a big patch on release day allows both publisher and dev to get their money earlier. A few weeks less they have to survive before money comes in can make all the difference.

@Fan patches:
They are not official and they are legion for certain games while others get none. The only fair solution is to ignore them all.

And after the final patch, and a gold master is created, thats the game out of the box, if you buy the final patched game.
Which is no longer identical to the originally shipped game. So itīs okay to review a polished budget version and compare it to unpolished new versions?

Maybe a closing section that recaps the fixes that have been made since release is a fair solution. If you see 6 patches that address the critiques in the game, the reader gets a fair review of the released game, and knows that the devs have fixed those or not.
Thatīs an idea, but pages full of fix lists are boring.

Iīm almost always playing with the latest patch. This means two things:
- As a gamer I want to read how the latest available version plays. older ones are uninteresting to me.
- As a reviewer Iīm not willing to suffer through unpatched RPGs. We all know most RPGs are unfinished, and I donīt want to waste my valuable gaming time denying myself the best possible experience.
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April 30th, 2007, 06:17
Which is why we're still waiting for your review of G3!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 30th, 2007, 06:36
G3 v1.12 is stable on my PC. Itīs just not a game to play for an hour here and there. I donīt find the time for the longer sessions such a game needs.
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April 30th, 2007, 10:28
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
But then that gives a free pass to devs and publishers that are perpetuating the "ship it and maybe fix it later" mindset. Why should PC games consistantly be released buggy and broken? Every review that gives a free ride to the companies that do this is making it easier for the next company to do it.
It's your choice to NOT buy games from companies who release unfinished products. Many people know now that Obsidian rushed NWN2 to the market so next time they make a game people will be more careful and maybe read the reviews before buying. If you still continue to buy games from a company with a history of releasing buggy games then you can't feel cheated and surprised when your new game is also bugged. Look at what they have done in the past to see what they will most likely do in the future.

Obsidian got a lot of flak for KOTOR2 as well. Still most people bought NWN2. I agree with you that it would be better if companies release pretty bugfree games, but unfortunately we will still experience many buggy games in the future too. I believe v1.05 of NWN2 is the one that should have been the release candidate. At least for the OC and SP. For MP and toolset it still lacks too much.

But you have to think WHY this happened to NWN2. It's not because Obsidian had a desire to rush the game to market. It was because Atari (the publisher) demanded they released it before Christmas 2006 regardless of the state of the game. Atari was nearly bankrupt and desperately needed some fresh money. Also remember that NWN2 betatesting started very late (like September 2006). I believe testing and bug fixing such a complex game should take at least 6 months. Instead they only had time to betatest for a month or two. That is way too little.

The lesson to be learnt is to avoid publishers who push for early release dates. But if I remember correctly it's Atari and not Obsidian who have made a deal with Wizards of the Coast about the DnD franchise. So it was Atari who hired Obsidian for making NWN2 and not Obsidian who selected Atari as their publisher.

I agree with you that if buggy games sell well then it's more likely future games will be released in beta state as well. But if the reviews are not good then it will hamper sales. NWN2 got a lot of not so good reviews last year. So some people stayed away from the game. But this is not the issue when we debate Corwin's review. Corwin's review was written 6 months after release and then I feel it's more interesting to the readers if the review was written based upon the last released patch.

I know Corwin played NWN2 with v1.01 or v1.02 and those frustrations he experienced then was based upon those patches. And we can't expect him to replay the OC. But he COULD have written that with the latest patch it seems Obsidian have fixed the AI issues, added new features like group select, fixed the camera problems, improved performance significantly etc. Just to balance the review. I think Corwin's review would have been spot on if it had been posted in December 2006. But it seems too harsh to me now when I look at the state of NWN2 in May 2007. Had he played the OC today he would have less frustrations than when he played NWN2 in December.

The key issue is whether RPGWatch should focus their reviews upon v1.00 or the latest patch available when the review is posted. Maybe we should take a poll about this issue?

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April 30th, 2007, 11:34
Personally I feel that it does not really matter which version of a game is reviewed as long as the author tries to do the game justice. NWN2 is a very difficult game to review. Simply because it is not just a single player game, it is also a multiplayer game, and it includes the toolset, as well as the DM client. If you look at the facts you have to admit that the game was fairly buggy when it was released, but you also have to admit that very few other games offer what NWN2 has to offer. Therefore I found the approach just to review the OC somewhat strange - simply because you get more than the OC if you decide to buy the game.

In my opinion a score like 9/10 means that a game is "almost perfect" - and as much as I like NWN2, the game is far from being perfect, even in its current (patched) state. However, I also feel that most scores are way to high… if you go to sites like Gamespot for example, you'll realize that most scores are so close to eachother that they have become meaningless. And if I look at the games of last year then I have to say that I still see NWN2 at the very top of what was released despite of its deficiencies.

I read through the review again, and I found that it is one of the better reviews I've read lately (apart from the fact that it was focussing on the OC). You do not get one opinion, you get three. Different ones. I like this kind of format. But I also think that if you got three opinions (and insist of giving a score) then every author should give the game his/her very own score. But overall, I think, this format is pretty good.
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