Decent game but hampered by unconvincing characters and plot developments.
(remark: this reviews has as it's subject the single player game not the multi-payer feature and the construction set).
"Can you honestly expect him to feel involved with you characters and are the developments in the plot convincing and either exciting or interesting?"
It is almost impossible to discuss Neverwinter Nights 2(short: NWN 2) without mentioning other games. Impossible because NWN 2 is a sequel. And impossible because Obsidian, the developer, has created Knights Of The Old Republic II, another AD&D game.
NWN 1 was a clean break from the Baldur's Gate dominated AD&D RPG world because it focused on the construction set and multi-player feature. The game itself felt more like a demo to show off the construction set then a full featured storyline. NWN 1 game was a single character game and to play in NWN 1 as a party one needed to turn to the multi-player feature.
With NWN 2 Obsidian has changed course again and reintroduced some BG features like a more developed story-line and a party centered game. In addition Obsidian seems to have been pleased with it's KOTOR II crafting mechanism, so crafting is part of NWN 2 as well. In all other respects Obsidian choose to keep things as they where in NWN 1 and stay true to the AD&D established features.
To mix tested features from other games into one packet seems a sane course but with NWN 2 this did not go without problems. An example of such a problem is that every conversation will be handled by main player character even if the conversation was started with another character. This has three effects: conversations are always tested against the player characters abilities, it is no-use developing the conversational skills of others and any conversation that results in combat(and there are lot of those) put's the player character in the front line, which is bad if you happen to have a vulnerable character like a wizard.
More can be said, but out of space consideration I'll focus on the story and how it's handled. It, the story, is broken down in three acts and an introduction. The introduction get's you familiarized with the AD&D rule-set and your home village just prior before it's being overrun. The three act's tell the story of a being created to defend a long lost civilization who turns up as a evil world conqueror/destroyer and who is thwarted by the player.
Attacking the home of the player is one of the most overused starts ever, invoking a feeling of dread about what the writers will serve us next. And indeed the game is full of overused features. As said before, the three acts turn around a being created to defend a long lost civilization who turns into an evil world conqueror. And again all the bad guys will join him on basis of the weakest excuses: they want power. For some depressing reason these bad guys are better organized and have more resources at their disposal than the good and neutral one's, despite the fact that all the leaders are homicidal psychopaths and the rank and file are more busy with in-fighting then overrunning the world. More overused features are dark priests creating undead armies, tribes of orcs assaulting civilization and convents of evil wizards abusing their evil magics. We have seen this all many times before.
Furthermore the story bristles with odd turns. Just to name a few. In act I the githyanki, a people from another world, turn up to pester the main player and then disappear in act II without a proper explanation. In act II a new person is introduced and he will be you adversary up to act III at which point he will join your side in one of the most unbelievable changes of opinion one can think of. In Act I you are given some options to (mal)treat some lizards, in act III lizards will appear again to be recruited as potential allies. At this point you expect there to be some link, but there is none. In act II you will be able to wipe out the better part of the teenage offspring of the Neverwinter's well-to-do without any repercussions. In the same vein, you can choose in Act II to side with the criminals in a war for control over the docks of Neverwinter, killing scores of law-enforcers and yet a little later on you are awarded with a title and a keep by the ruler of the city.
Now all of the above might have been neutralized if the happenings had been give some deeper layer, where presented with a twist or brought to us in a unique way. The central theme that of a former guardian who turns into an evil conqueror has some merit, but this is hardly used in any good fashion. The characters are just not shown(main bad guy), unbelievable, overused and presented in a boring way(most of the cast). Interesting dialogue can only be found far and in between.
But the game has some very redeeming qualities. First and foremost are the other party members. They have all different personalities and some have their own quests. It is fun how some of the battle cry's invoke a smile. In addition there are some gems. One fine piece is the trial halfway in the game that suddenly brings into focus what impact your treatment of others can cause.
To turn back to the question at the beginning of this review. Most characters you won't feel involved with, most developments are unconvincing and only the endless score of battles, character interactions and the occasional story gem keeps things interesting. Because of this it is impossible to give anything more than a 7.5.
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