Neverwinter Nights 2 review

It’s not been a good year for games on the Mac. Perhaps the ability to use Boot Camp to run PC games is killing off the market for Mac versions of those games. Whatever the cause, Neverwinter Nights 2 is one of the few top-notch games released on the Mac this year. It is, of course, the sequel to the best-selling Neverwinter Nights, and it’s an impressive follow-up that actually improves on the original game in many ways.

The graphics are more varied and detailed than the murky textures of the earlier game, creating an impressive and realistic 3D world for your adventures (though you’ll need a fairly powerful Mac, with a 2GHz Intel processor to run the game properly). The storyline is more complex too, allowing your character to progress from simple country bumpkin to legendary hero. The game begins in the small village of West Harbour, which is suddenly attacked by a band of orcs. The orcs are searching for the broken shards of an ancient magical sword, and it falls to you to recover the lost parts of the sword and generally save the world. As you progress through the game you’ll develop greater powers and skills, and graduate from bashing orcs to taking on dragons and some really impressive large-scale battles against the invading armies of evil.

However, it’s not just straightforward good-versus-evil stuff. As you encounter new characters and events within the game you will always have a choice between good and evil. Your choices affect the way that the game unfolds, altering events and influencing the other characters in the game. You also attract a band of followers along the way, and you can choose up to three additional ‘henchmen’ characters to fight at your side – but only if they approve of the way you behave and consider you a worthy leader.

This creates an involving experience that really emphasises the ‘role-playing’ aspect of your character within the game. The only drawback – or strength, depending on your point of view – is that the rules controlling the mechanics of the game are based on the ‘official’ Dungeons And Dragons board games. These rules have become increasingly complex over the years, and bombard you with a mass of statistics, skills and abilities. Hardcore Dungeons And Dragons fans will love the ability to customise their characters this way, but the less geeky among us may find the endless lists of skills and numbers somewhat baffling.

OUR VERDICT

The complexity of the Dungeons And Dragons rules means that Neverwinter Nights 2 isn’t a game for the casual player who just wants to dip in and out for the occasional session of monster bashing. It will take some time to fully master the game, but your efforts will be rewarded by an engaging game that really draws you into its exciting fantasy world.

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