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Sep 27, 2007

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

Genre Role-Playing Styles Third-Person 3D Action RPG Developer Obsidian Entertainment Publisher Atari, Inc.
Minimum Requirements: 2Ghz Cpu, 512 Ram, 5.5gb hard drive space, 128mb videcard
Multiplayer: 2-4 players

pc game
/Can you go home again? And if so, how much will you—or your home—have changed since you left? Thai's one of Neverwinter Nights 2. Mask of the Betrayers ihemes. but its also a question for beleaguered D&D fans desperate for the original NWN2, only to discover a virtual plague of bugs and camera problems rendering it all but unplayable. The good news: One year and 250 megabytes worth of patches later, the game is finally as good as promised. The better news: The new Mask of the Betrayer expansion is a stronger, more complex and ultimately more satisfying game.

It's also not easy. Set soon after the original game's end. Mask begins with your character—you can keep your old guy or create one from scratch—at level 18 (or up to 20 if you were there already). The expansion adds two new base classes. Favored Soul and Spirit Shaman, and five new prestige classes, which, of course, you may be dying to try, but since you start at such a high level, it's kinda like buying an MMO character off eBay. Yes, your character is powerful from the start, but good luck knowing what you're doing. Fortunately, you can start the new classes from level 1 in the original NWN2 campaign if you'd like to learn the mecharics on an easier level.
Me, I chose to import my trusty level 18 Dwarf Paladin. Doofaeus Moronico—and had my best DSD RPG experience since Black Isle's 1999 masterpiece, Planescape Torment (though it's nor in the same league). Planescape is, in fad, the best point of reference here for describing Masks campaign. Rather than sending you on a save-the-world quest. Mask focuses on an inward journey: You awake imprisoned underground for reasons unknown, and you soon find yourself victim of a horrific curse. You spend the bulk of the game hopping through portals into surreal planes and dreamscapes in search of who put this curse on you. why, and how to get rid of it.
The curse is no mere plot device: it has a direct effect on gameplay. You've become a spirit-eater and must constantly consume spirits to stay alive It adds a challenging monkey wrench to an already complex game—forcing you to reconsider even basic actions like resting or traveling, if your spirit meter is too low. Add in a few genuinely tough logic puzzles (some frustrabngly short on clues) and a series of side quests that completely vary (some might not even open up) depending on your party makeup, and you have a game that goes a good 20 hours—at least—and begs for repeated playlhroughs.

Mask is not without problems, though. Even all these patches later with two new "modes" to play in, NWN2's still got one of the most annoying, impos-sibJe-to-use cameras ever. (Obsidian* Please ditch this engine, for all our sakes, next time out.) The new NPCs are a fine, but mostly humorless, bunch. And once again, a few bugs tripped up my game, failing to trigger events and forcing me back to an old save (save early and often, kids). Still, these issues were far less obtrusive this time and ultimately did not dampen my happy feelings that here was the kind of deep. hardcore RPG that old-school fans like me thought they just didn't make anymore.


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