Neverwinter, Nevermore

November 21, 2008 at 4:08 am (Gaming)

OK so the highlight of my very bad week was supposed to be picking up the copy of Neverwinter Nights 2: The Storm of Zehir. It was my hazard pay. My treat to myself, off my husband’s bank card.

For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about…it’s a videogame. If you’ve ever heard of the board game Dungeons and Dragons, which is currently making a comeback in its 4th Edition and enticing a whole new generation of D&D geeks (more on that later, and we are NOT Satanists), the Neverwinter Nights series is essentially a PC, roleplaying, video game version. The game conducts battles and adventures according to what would be random dice rolls that would occur in the D&D board game, and follows the basic rules and concepts of D&D…just a whole lot faster and with fleshed-out, well-written characters to encounter and play with. In short, it is awesome.

If Neverwinter 1 and its expansions were fun, then Neverwinter 2 had some of the best-written and most entertaining non-player characters (NPC) I’ve ever encountered. And for me, being the big closet game-geek that I am…that’s really saying something.  Its first expansion pack was a little light on plot, but hey, they had that hottie emo Spirit Shaman, Gannayev, who was romanceable. (Which was the coolest time I’ve had since SimMommy took a clandestine SimVacation to the Caribbean with Captain Jack Sparrow while SimDaddy wasn’t home.) I was so excited for a new NWN2 expansion that I pre-ordered it months in advance, using MY OWN bank card.

I snuck out to GameStop yesterday with Bunny, while Queenie was helping Ninja in the tub. I was sooooo excited. I loaded it right away, and thrilled to the strains of the orchestral score and the oh-so-pretty cinematics.

Now for those of you who have played the D&D board game and ever thought it was boring, imagine all the most tedious elements of the board game, integrated into this new expansion “to make it more authentic.” Granted, they’re probably banking on a whole new audience now that D&D proper is exhibiting renewed success…but do they HAVE to take out the WorldMap, from where you can teleport without penalty to anywhere else in the game, and replace it with an “Overland Map” which forces you to manually walk everywhere, speed-adjusted for terrain difficulty, and auto-spawning encounters that chase you all he way across the map? It has turned the game from a plot-driven adventure into this ambling, rambling situation that just isn’t any fun. And I don’t even have my elven hottie anymore, and had to start from an annoying Level 1 after having levelled two characters to 20 in the game’s prior incarnations.

Before, you had these quirky, incredibly well-written compatriots, with whom alliances could affect outcomes on a larger level…now, you choose from pre-fab characters with template personalities. There are no interactions that matter. So you don’t care as much when they die. And if you thought our US economy was bad…it’s spilled over into this game. Apparently in virtual worlds, it also costs 500 dollars to heal yourself.

If you’ve read this far and still understand what I’m talking about, SAVE YOUR MONEY, unless you want some cool new mod elements to play with in the toolbox. I am so hoping that modding has not been affected by these lame format changes, because I’m only just now putting the finishing touches on my Eladrin Village. The wrecking of a franchise I’ve always really liked is a bummer, but thankfully I am able to console myself by endearing my Hunter to the Walrus People on World of Warcraft. If you get enough faction, they give you a baby Penguin. I’m naming him Ringo.

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