Nights or How I Spent My Summer Vacation
the early '80s before the Commodore 64 was even available, I
used to spend a week at a time cooped up in a dungeon known
as an "Alert Facility". It was there that I was introduced
to a game called Dungeons and Dragons. I've played the game
on and off for years as both a player and as a masochist a.k.a.
"DM" or Dungeon Master.
D&D computer games became available, I scooped them up and
burned the midnight oil completing quests too numerous to count.
I spent many an hour killing orcs and goblins and looting their
still quivering corpses, chortling over the treasure I acquired.
While hack and slash was a given, there were usually a liberal
amount of puzzles thrown in. While usually not as complex as
those found in many other adventure games, they were more than
enough to keep me happy.
many others I eagerly awaited the release of Neverwinter
Nights, and snatched my copy up as soon as it appeared on
retail shelves. Once I got it home I did something I normally
don't do, I actually read the manual. The game comes on three
CDs; two install CDs, and one play CD.
Nights uses the new D&D 3rd Edition rules, which
in some cases makes a marked departure from the 2nd Edition
rules. Another big difference is that unlike previous D&D
games, in the single player mode, you don't go adventuring with
a party. Instead you get one henchman to assist you throughout
your journey. There are a number to choose from, and you need
to pick one that complements your own character's abilities.
generation is available as are a number of pre-generated characters
for those who wish to jump into the game as quickly as possible.
Personally, I like to put together my character from scratch,
sort of like Dr. Frankenstein. That way if the character sucks,
it's my fault not the games.
than starting with chapter 1, the game has a Prelude to allow
you to get used to the interface. You are also able to gain
a level or two during the Prelude so you are not quite a sacrificial
lamb as the game really begins. In addition to the linear storyline,
there are more side quests than you can shake a wagonload of
sticks at. While some of the side quests are annoying, they
all help you gain the oh-so-important Experience Points, not
to mention, help appease your lust for gold, gems, and other
with all other D&D, there are creatures aplenty to
kill, peasants to rescue, and the occasional damsel in distress.
I've always had an affinity for the magic user and that is the
type of character I chose my first time for the game. One excellent
feature of the game is the ability to save any time and a large
number of save slots to use. As a magic user you die......a
lot. Quick save is hot keyed, and I wore that key out. However,
as you go up in level your powers increase along with your destructive
abilities. Few things are as satisfying as watching your enemies
shrivel under a blast of flame issuing forth from your fingertips.
Mmmmm mmmmmm, crispy critters for lunch!
starting the game I realized I was having fun, more than I have
had in a dungeon crawl in a long, long time. Fortunately I started
playing the game on a Friday night, because it was 3 AM the
next morning before I stopped, and that was only because I couldn't
keep my old eyes opened any longer. After about five hours sleep,
I was back at it again. My wife would show up occasionally mumbling
words like, "obsessed" and "childish". Who
was I to argue with her wisdom? Surely not I!!
was patently obvious to me that the folks at Bioware had a monster
hit on their hands, and that I was becoming one of their willing
the game is pleasing to the eye and offers three different camera
angles to choose from. The video set up menu allows you to set
the game up to run smoothly on the minimum required system,
but for those with Uber computers, you can really crank things
up. Lighting effects, textures and even anti-aliasing are all
adjustable in the video menu.
sound is also well done, and a system with four speakers and
a good sound card will allow you to get the most out of the
game. The music adds to the mood of the game, and changes dynamically
as your situation changes. The voice acting is fair, and decidedly
British in tone, as was amply evident in the voice of my henchman,
which after a time began to get on my nerves.
be difficult to get into the game's storyline without spoiling
the plot, so I won't even try, you'll have to find out for yourself.
important facet of the game, one which some people would consider
the most important, is the multiplayer aspect. The game ships
with a toolset which grants a user the ability to create his
own adventures, then gather a group of buddies online and exercise
the godlike powers of a Dungeon Master. No more gathering in
ill-lit basements, or smoke-filled rooms with pencil, paper
and a Crown Royal bag full of dice. With the addition of real-time
Internet voice communications, the virtual gaming room is now
a reality. I have yet to use this part of the game, but I already
have some victims, er, friends in mind to try out the first
module I create on.
in all, I am extremely impressed by the quality of Neverwinter
Nights, both the game play and visual aspects of the game.
I urge anyone who has ever gotten any pleasure out of playing
Dungeons & Dragons to go out and get a copy of this
- P II 450 (800 recommended)