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Default NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ IGN AU

December 5th, 2008, 02:36
NWN2: Storm of Zehir has been reviewed at IGN AU, with a score of 8.2/10:
Make no mistake, this is a marked departure from Mask of the Betrayer, the previous instalment in the series. Where that game was narrow yet deep, Storm of Zehir offers width and expanse. Instead of narrative richness, Storm of Zehir opts for a kind of exploratory freedom that only really works when untethered from the hook of a linear, main quest. If you're expecting a heroic tale where the fate of the world hinges upon your personal sacrifice or redemption, then you'll be very disappointed. If you enjoy testing yourself against wandering encounters, delving into random caverns and dungeons, and just generally finding more cool stuff for your party and levelling up, then Storm of Zehir will hold far greater appeal.
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December 5th, 2008, 02:36
Thanks for the review link, sounds exactly like what I thought it would be! Fun!!!

Good times ahead

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December 5th, 2008, 12:16
This sounds tedious - like the Oblivion XP treadmill. The changes they made w.r.t party building etc sounded great - but if it's to this end, I'm glad I wasn't able to get the game as soon as it was released. I hope there is a story-driven NWN2 expansion somewhere down the line.
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December 5th, 2008, 15:10
It's very individual.

I've seen glowing reviews of it as "D&D as it used to be" etc.

Me? I absolutely hated it.

Crappy, crappy AI.
Crappy story.
Crappy locations.
Crappy voice acting.
Crappy encounters.
Crappy dungeons.

Top that up with (my experience) relatively frequent CTDs, bugs in the form of prestige classes not working, becoming available despite requirements met… yeah very disappointed. I know it's supposed to be a short and different addon, but I feel they fail at every part of it that they strived to use as a selling point.

Did I mention that the AI is crappy? It is.

Some love it - dunno why.
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December 5th, 2008, 16:53
Originally Posted by Hamsternator View Post
It's very individual.
Some love it - dunno why.
The thing definitely has bugs… lots of them… especially in co-op multiplayer, where some elements of the team-based overland travel starts to break down (i.e., "who is the leader?") and other problems (voiceovers too low in volume to hear, etc.) make it almost unplayable that way. Also, the AI items you mention are real and problematic. Why in the world my summoned familiar was set to puppet-mode by default/design is beyond me…. as initially the thing just stands in one place, while the rest of the party goes off to fight the baddies.

However…. there's a certain target group of over 30 (perhaps over 35?) gamers who find the party-based, free roaming, high adventure feel of this game very appealing. I fall into that camp. With a few patches to clean up the AI, tweak loading performance on the overland map, and clean up co-op play, this could be my favorite foray into Neverwinter Nights thusfar.

I don't think it'll ever compete with the games it is trying to emulate (such as, Pools of Radiance, Star Trail, etc.), because the original NWN2 engine simply wasn't meant to do this kind of gameplay. However, I consider this an exceptional "modification" of the NWN2 ruleset to create something wholly new and different. I'm having a blast with this one… so it manages to tap into that intangible "fun factor" for certain cRPGers, while alienating others.
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December 5th, 2008, 20:02
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
This sounds tedious - like the Oblivion XP treadmill. The changes they made w.r.t party building etc sounded great - but if it's to this end, I'm glad I wasn't able to get the game as soon as it was released. I hope there is a story-driven NWN2 expansion somewhere down the line.
I guess to get this type of quality story driven expansions it has to be a Bioware product. To me HotU was the best part of the NWN1/2 saga. SoZ is OK, I wish it was better polished. Losing all rare resources in transfer to the warehouse was the most annoying bug so far.
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December 5th, 2008, 20:26
Originally Posted by Nikus View Post
I guess to get this type of quality story driven expansions it has to be a Bioware product. To me HotU was the best part of the NWN1/2 saga.
I agree, but… story-driven? IMO there was less story in HotU than any of the other NWN1 campaigns I've played (which include the OC, SoU, WCoC, DoD, and most of the premium modules). Instead, there were very interesting levels and areas, one or two interesting characters and encounters, and some really cool battles.

SoZ is OK, I wish it was better polished. Losing all rare resources in transfer to the warehouse was the most annoying bug so far.
I haven't gotten that far. With any luck, there'll be an update out before I do.
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December 5th, 2008, 21:44
SoZ, exactely like the original NWN2 and MotB has one big problem - it's way to complex. It's great that Obsidian tried to be faithful to the P&P game, but let's face it: If you have a look at all the .2da files and all the scripts it's pretty clear that the game must have errors. Basically there is something new broken with every patch. It's not really that bad, but in my opinion it simply would be better to somewhat simplify the gameplay. They should put the emphasis on gameplay, polish and story instead of rules. It's great that you have 30 classes and all, but is it really necessary… not in my opinion.
Nonetheless SoZ isn't a bad game. I enjoyed what I saw so far. It's probably more interesting for modders than players though.

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December 5th, 2008, 22:40
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I agree, but… story-driven? IMO there was less story in HotU than any of the other NWN1 campaigns I've played (which include the OC, SoU, WCoC, DoD, and most of the premium modules). Instead, there were very interesting levels and areas, one or two interesting characters and encounters, and some really cool battles.
Right, story-driven is probably not the best word. HotU wasn't heavy on the plot, but the game was wrapped around and well integrated with it. Not that I remember all the details, but the good things I do recall about the story are: it was initially conveyed in an interesting manner (thru "dreams"), at the point you'd think the main story ended, it only got twisted and became more interesting, the quests such as gathering a defending alliance fit very well with the plot. SoZ looks pretty simple and bland in this respect. It doesn't involve you like a good book does.
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December 5th, 2008, 23:54
I got to agree with you Nikus. SoZ is a game first and a story second, as it should be IMHO. I'd buy a book if I wanted a deep story. I want something to play, not something to read or listen to. I found Planescape: Torment utterly boring because there wasn't a game there, just a story. If I compare PST to any good book it fails, if I compare it to any good crpg it fails. There are many though, who absolutely loved that piece of software. SoZ has failings. Some of the mechanics are a little broken, but I haven't had as much fun just running around in a long time.

SoZ has a story, but it is mostly in the mind of the player, not played out through dialogue.

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December 6th, 2008, 00:35
There's always going to be a split of players that like story driven and character building crpgs now I think. I can enjoy both but I can see why people like one and not the other.
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December 6th, 2008, 16:08
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
SoZ is a game first and a story second, as it should be IMHO. I'd buy a book if I wanted a deep story.
I used to be a bit more in the other camp, hoping for a wonderful story with my cRPGs (spoiled by Planescape: Torment I think). But now, gameplay is king, as I've finally come to accept that the best stories are simply not being written by game designers.
IMHO, cRPGS should focus on what cRPGs are best at, which is allowing me to assume a "role" within a fictional setting. It isn't acting (i.e., wearing a mask on stage), which is different and is what a lot of the newer linear RPGs have to offer. It is experiencing a fictional world through a self-determined persona, which can be quite thrilling.
I think a lot of gamers feel they lack the imagination (or the creative desire) to create a good fictional character on their own; so, they rely on the game developers to "fill in the blanks" for them.
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December 6th, 2008, 16:24
Originally Posted by Cabel Blacke View Post
IMHO, cRPGS should focus on what cRPGs are best at, which is allowing me to assume a "role" within a fictional setting… It is experiencing a fictional world through a self-determined persona, which can be quite thrilling.
Pity you play the same role over and over and over, if we're going by most RPGs: that of an adventurer saving the world, universe, or region from a great ancient evil. Usually the fictional setting you experience is populated by Tolkienesque elves, dwarves, halflings and pseudo-medieval knights. Is that really thrilling? Because that's what you will most likely get forever and ever if all game developers were to devote themselves to the slay-and-loot multi-character party model set in Generic Medieval Dummy Land.

As someone who wishes game developers should invest more time and concern into writing—delivering interesting characters and settings—I'd rather play PS:T and VtM: Bloodlines because the "roles" given there are pretty atypical of RPGs. Granted, plenty of so-called story-driven RPGs are pieces of derivative dreck (see Bioware) and I imagine it's possible to create RPGs that focus on gameplay but which also happen to take place in a non-boring fictional world with a plotline that doesn't involve saving the princess, the region, the world, or the universe… but I have yet to see anything like that: all the games with atypical settings and atypical plots I've played happen to be story-driven and writing-heavy.

I think a lot of gamers feel they lack the imagination (or the creative desire) to create a good fictional character on their own; so, they rely on the game developers to "fill in the blanks" for them.
If you think preferring a story-driven game equates to lack of imagination, I'd hate to know what you think watching a movie or reading a book equates to. And what process of creation is there in games that prioritize gameplay over writing/story apart from assigning stat points? Do you imagine a lot of scintillating dialogue and interaction between yourself in your inventory-slot wife in KB: the Legend? Do you take out Notepad and write dialogue between your created party members in IWD? Let's stop puffing out your chest, here. Playing games that don't give much attention to writing and story requires no more force of imagination than playing games that do.
Last edited by Essaliad; December 6th, 2008 at 16:31.
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December 6th, 2008, 17:15
Thing is the idea for Planescape comes from first edition AD&D's (see generic Tolkien fantasy crap) Manuel of the Planes that then got turned into the Campaign Setting by David Cook. It's been part of D&D for a very long time and World of Darkness isn't new either. As far as I can tell (I don't play or read much P&P any more) a lot of the good ideas remain fairly old. You're slagging off the stuff that started the process of the things you enjoy they are all part of the same. I'm not sure if crpgs have ever been much of a place for originality or ideas and that they have taken them from other mediums whenever they approach anything interesting.
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December 6th, 2008, 17:30
Er, I'm aware where Planescape and WoD come from; I'm probably more aware than you are about D&D's roots (which have more to do with older sword-and-sorcery than Tolkien and, yes, there's a difference. In fact, Gygax once snapped at a Tolkien retard fanboy for suggesting that AD&D elves should be more like Tolkien elves). But in the context of computer RPGs, their settings are quite atypical: one's weird fantasy that involves neither dwarves nor elves, the other is dark urban fantasy that involves vampires. That they have roots in P&P is… perfectly irrelevant. All I'm concerning myself with is CRPGs.

Ultimately, of course, it's the execution that really counts. The Witcher is set in a pseudo-European medieval fantasy with elves and dwarves, and it manages not to be a boring retread of the same thing regurgitated a thousand times. Either way, the idea that playing ToEE/IWD/SoZ requires more imagination than playing PS:T or MotB is self-congratulatory and contemptible.
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December 6th, 2008, 17:45
Like your egotistical " I'm probably more aware than you are about D&D's roots" is arrogant and contemptible. Anyway, it isn't because any form of fiction/fantasy is asking that from the audience and the level that is asked is not always equal. Audience sophistication is a large area of study all of it's own.
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December 6th, 2008, 18:06
Originally Posted by woges View Post
Like your egotistical " I'm probably more aware than you are about D&D's roots" is arrogant and contemptible.
No, that's fact, and if you think stating facts is egotistical (or indeed that someone knows about a subject more than you do is egotistical), then life must be tough for you. Your insistence that the first edition of D&D sprang from Tolkien suggests you don't know very much. Given that Gygax—you know, the guy who created the whole thing in the first place?—denied that he was inspired by LOTR/Tolkien, and there is plenty of evidence to support that, I'd take his word over… well, anybody's, really. You could argue that some D&D settings are Tolkien-inspired, and Forgotten Realms at least certainly is (but even then, it still owes more to S&S than to Tolkien). But Planescape? That whole planes/multiple realities thing owes greatly to Zelazny and Moorcock. Planescape is also not particularly Tolkien-friendly, given that it has steampunk inclinations (which would go completely against Tolkien's pastoral nostalgia), the idea that reality can be altered by belief (which deeply contradicts Tolkien's Catholicism), and a great many other things that'd make people look at you funny for trying to compare it to Middle-earth.

Of course, it may be that you were aware of all this—but for some reason chose to parrot the popular belief that D&D is Tolkien-derived instead—then I stand corrected, but would profess curiosity as to why you would state something you know to be false.
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December 6th, 2008, 18:19
Ahh, I didn't say it came from Tolkien that was a reference to your angry previous statement. Greyhawk is most probably lifted from Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar tales than Tolkien and Lankhmar was an effort to make a fantasy world with heroes a little more "human" than Conan and these of course have roots in "real" mythology just as Tolkien's Middle Earth has.
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December 6th, 2008, 18:26
You sez:
Originally Posted by woges View Post
Thing is the idea for Planescape comes from first edition AD&D's (see generic Tolkien fantasy crap) Manuel of the Planes that then got turned into the Campaign Setting by David Cook.
Quoi? I admit confusion and recall no inclusion of "real mythology" in my "angry" rant.
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December 6th, 2008, 18:28
Indeed, I was comparing your hate of generic fantasy crap with that of Tolkien as that seems to be your take on the matter.

Oh, and if you're looking for roots of D&D then you are looking at mythology that you seem to know more about than anyone else anyway.
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