Games for Windows & NWN2: What the Hell?

If NWN2 wasn’t touted as a DnD game, then it might make sense to criticize the game mechanics as part of a review. Since the game is very clearly marked as an attempt to bring DnD to the computer, writing a review where the main point of the review is that DnD is an old dinosaur makes no sense. Customers purchasing NWN2 know going in that they are purchasing a game based on the DnD system.

This is a very poor review that focuses almost exclusively on the reviewer’s personal preferences, without giving the reader much information on the actual game beyond the already known fact that it is based on DnD.

Overall I give the review a 1 out of 10 (on the 7-9 scale).

Ah, I’m in Italy so I’m don’t know well game’s journalists, but he is my favorite game reviewer along with Tom Chick.

He cannot be wrong ;)

(I wish I could read the review)

EDIT: Oops, I thought the review was on a paper magazine…

I disagree with the review and also think it’s a very poorly written. Of course he also gave Beyond Divinity a 4.5/5 stars on Gamespy’s site, so I bet he just has no taste in RPGs at all

Was that when Gamespy made all their reviewers rate on the “4.5-5” scale?

Woot! See what I did there!

I haven’t made up my mind yet about NWN2, but if that’s the quality of writing they’re letting in gaming magazines these days no wonder their circulations are in the toilet.

The idea seems to be that we’re meant to rah-rah about a superabundance of feats, spells, races, prestige (advanced) classes, and math-equation tickers full of the usual “I attack you with a +4 sword of --” booooooring. Fine, sure, dandy&but when is a “role” not a “role”? Simple: when it’s a rule to a fault.

Such language!

The review probably ought to have at least addressed how the game fares as a hack ‘n’ slash, Diablo/Icewind Dale sort of game, beyond decrying the rules for being convoluted. For the original NWN, the hack ‘n’ slash was pretty much the core of the game, after all.

Also, this line, “buh-bye storytelling and character development”, seems unfair to me. I’ve not played the game yet, but is the game truly so bereft of these things? Does it not compare favorably in this area to, say, Oblivion or Fable?

Finally, while it’s fair to criticize the game for chopping the game world up into relatively small areas (I agree that it’s irksome and increasingly less forgiveable with each passing year), I think it bears mentioning that the game could not possibly fulfill the create-your-own-adventure goal of the series if it had gone with a huge overworld sort of system like Oblivion. It simply wouldn’t have been practical, for a number of reasons, and the game’s multiplayer would also have had to be reinvented.

That’s pretty awesome though.

If this NWN is about number crunching and not role playing, than it deserves a 5… no?

I doubt you have to number crunch at all in NWN2. That’s an end-user controlled behavior akin to powergaming, min/maxing, metagaming, cheating, etc… This review does nothing for me. I want to know about the number of choices, if the gameworld reacts to your choices, if there are permanent consequences, how much mileage you can get out of skills, multiple paths, quest design, linearity, if combat is fun, challenging, and rewarding. Going off on a babbling tangent about it abiding to the D&D ruleset is fucking retarded.

I don’t see the logic of this.

Being pratical is a quality of the tools, not of the technology used. I don’t see how building a zoneless world can be significantly harder and require more time than the tiny maps that NWN uses. I see this mostly as a technological limit than a deliberate choice (and the engine is already bad enough even without a zoneless world).

Yeah, we’re really breaking out of the 7-9 scale lately. Someday someone will look back and think we lived through a golden age of gaming with all the 7-9 games if this keeps going.

I think folks are saying it’s a game design choice because Neverwinter Nights treats each adventure you go on as a module of its own. Things really aren’t tied together because it’s like putting up that Dungeon Master screen and running people through your favorite module of choice. It’s not Baldur’s Gate so much as it is The Keep On the Borderlands.

It really does come across as “I hate D&D 3.5 so I’ll slam it over and over”. There’s some legitimate complaints in there, but they are buried under both the complaints about D&D and the style of the writing.

I’m more interested in a review of the community and what the fans did
a month after release.

I guess I’m just finally weary of being led around on a pencil-and-paper leash and batting numbers around a glorified three-dimensional spreadsheet in a computer translation that should have synthesized, not forklifted.

Stop playing RPGs, boychick.

Matt, as someone who has done plenty pnp RPG, is a fan of cRPG, and is dreadfully tired of min/maxing and powergaming, thinking that there are definately better ways to roleplay, I still don’t get your review at all. After reading it, all I get is “Gee, that guy doesn’t like D&D.” You end up making the article about you, and to be perfectly honest, it comes off as a grab for attention. I really hope that isn’t the case.

I don’t recall asking for IMMERSION from my AD&D RPGs. I play them FOR the rules. What’s next, we judge dungeon hacks and Angband clones as poor because they don’t feature airships and blonde-haired lady boys? Bitching that NWN2 hews too closely to AD&D 3.5E rules – especially when the game was specifically designed to be a digital representation of them – is like bitching that Madden emphasizes the NFL too much. The review should have told us how closely and effectively it implemented those rules, because that’s what folks are buying it for – and anyone who hates AD&D 3.5E doesn’t need Matt to tell 'em it sucks all over again. Could it be that reviewers are abandoning critical thought in favor of genre stereotyping? Do all “RPG” titles need to have “immersion” as their major design goal?

That review was pretty fuckin’ uncomfortable to read regardless of its message. Between this review and Parish’s UGnG nonsense, ZD writing is gonna give IGN a run for its money in the barrel bottom real estate market.

Well if it’s a grab for attention, anyone care to trade? Because the only attention I’m bound to get for this is pain and misery, believe me. But nah, it’s not about me. I mean, go read half of anything from Roger Ebert and tell me you couldn’t make the same argument about his stuff, y’know? I think Tom got it exactly right awhile back when he said a good review is a personal reaction.

Wise man say: “The critic who tries to reflect the views of his audience is not a critic, he’s a ventriloquist.” :)

But you’re not a critic. Nothing you wrote was insightful or even pertinent, it was just a wordy, mucky blog entry on why fantasy RPGs suck.

It’s not that it hews too close to the rules at all, but that obsessing over them ends up being an uncomfortably large slice of the total gameplay. I knew coming out and saying that, I’d be facing a tough crowd (here more than anywhere). But don’t forget that plenty of the other issues have nothing whatsoever to do with the rules, they just exacerbated the alienation I felt (this time, uniquely) making my way through all the D&D chrome.

Well, that’s kind of big’un all by itself…

Ding! I agree with this post.