Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Neverwinter Nights 2 Gold | 10

Like many fans of the original Bioware epic Neverwinter Nights, I was giddy as a schoolgirl when we approached the release of Neverwinter Nights 2. Perhaps the fact that it was constantly delayed should have been a warning, but I wasn't deterred at all and was travelling all over the city on launch day trying to find a copy of the Limited Edition with rings that don't fit and an art book.

But let me digress for a moment...
Bioware was the creative studio behind the epic hit Knights of the Old Republic, and Obsidian's only prior game as a studio was Knights of the Old Republic 2 which was lauded for its excellent story, and bemoaned over its incomplete nature and buggy unfinished feel. Neverwinter Nights 2 was Obsidian's second title, and also their second continuation of a Bioware masterpiece, and ultimately the foreshadowing of what was to be released should have been heeded by those of us who were chomping at the bits to get our hands on it as soon as possible.

Obsidian released Neverwinter Nights 2 without the DM client, despite the fact that they had been touting the fact in interviews a year prior that the online component of the game was well in hand. On the contrary, the online component of NWN2 was in shambles, and even after multiple patches over the course of 2 years now has the online component stabilized... to a point.

When you play online with the latest patch, you still get load screen freezes, the game crashes every time on exiting (Vista and XP), and it appears to have enormous memory leak issues which have not been resolved. I am not running a weak machine mind you, I'm running a dual core 2 duo 8400 (Wolfdale), 4 GB of RAM, and a 64 bit operating system, with a 512MB Geforce 8800GT... a powerhouse which crashes consistently with NWN2.

I had the same problems on my prior system, an AMD core, with 2GB of RAM and a 7900GT and XP. Multiplayer freezes your computer or crashes the game randomly.

Let us be honest... the Multiplayer component may not be what sells the game out of the gate, but it is what makes the original NWN a hit even in the present time (6 years post-release). Multiplayer was incredibly unfinished by Obsidian, and reading the release notes it is almost criminal how they acknowledge bugs, don't know what causes them, and don't issue any timeframe or even a plan on an expected fix.

This game hasn't worked since release for those who enjoy Multiplayer. Single player is buggy, but the campaign is good (reminiscent of KOTOR2).

Despite all this, the cash cow milking is at work, and Gold Editions, Platinum Editions, Diamond Editions, etc. are promised features and fixes for those who shell out cash to buy the newest bundle or expansion.

Obsidian/Atari should not be planning any expansions until the game actually works. Instead, they are financing development and running the license into the ground because of the shortsighted nature of development.

This game was supposed to be a D&D fan's dream, but many of us are moving back to NWN where Bioware still adds free content, fixes, and additions to the game despite not making much money off of it.

Perhaps Obsidian/Atari should slow down on milking the consumer and think about what breeds customer loyalty. I've bought every single Bioware title to date, and I will continue buying because I get what I expect - quality, and a finished game.

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