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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Atari

 

Developer

Bioware

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 2003

 

 

- New Prestige Classes are cool

- Plot is compelling, if a bit tired

- Difficulty ramps up nicely as character advances

 

 

- Doesnít address any of the original games shortfalls

 

 

Review: Neverwinter Nights (PC)

Review: Icewind Dale II (PC)

Review: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

 

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Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide

Score: 8.5 / 10

I enjoyed the single-player experience of Neverwinter Nights (NN) greatly.  Though the depth promised by it modular editor and DM tools never produced the fluid multi-player role-playing it promised, the single-player game was tight and fun.  Now, BioWare has expanded the NN world with a short, single-player expansion, Shadows of Undrentide.  Like the original game, the expansion is a solid action-RPG with just the right balance of action and logic.  Additionally, Undrentide has a handful of new features that make it a smart purchase for any fans of the original.  

 

neverwinter-nights-shadows-undrentide-1.jpg (36367 bytes)          neverwinter-nights-shadows-undrentide-2.jpg (24708 bytes)

 

Undrentideís adventure begins with the player taking on the role of a 1st-level adventurer.  Unlike many recent RPG expansions, Undrentide is new-player friendly since you donít have to import a high-level character from the original game (in fact, this isnít an option).  Players assume the role of one of the students of the Dwarf Drogan who has been poisoned in an attack by a band of kobolds intent on stealing some powerful artifacts that Drogan was protecting.  The studentís first duty is to track the kolbolds and begin to retrieve the artifacts, which have been separated since the theft.  Along the way, adventurers encounter a variety of creatures from the D&D universe, many of which were not seen in the first game.

 

The graphics and sound of Shadows of Undrentide seem unchanged from the original.  Though the upcoming NN expansion promises the use of DirectX 9 shaders and effects, Undrentide is still tied into the earlier 8.1 tools, so users shouldnít see much if any difference between the two (I know I didnít).  Still, NN was a fine 

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looking game and Undrentide continues its excellence.  Even better, the interface remains intuitive and one of the best in existence.  Even players new to the series should have no problem getting up and going.

Although the engine hasnít been updated, the expansion does have a nice mix of new features.  The most important feature for fans of the pen-and-paper D&D system is the inclusion of five new prestige classes: Arcane 

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Archer, Assassin, Blackguard, Harper Scout, and, my personal favorite, Shadow Dancer.  As in the pen-and-paper game, prestige classes a specialized, more powerful versions of standard classes and, as such, have numerous prerequisite, many of which a character canít meet until he or she has done some adventuring.

 

Numerous new spells, creatures, and weapons also grace the package.  It is a trivial amount compared to the amount of free mods available online, but at just twenty bucks, Undrentide seems fairly packed with new content.

 

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Gameplay is identical to the original game.  As it was then, the interface is the most valuable player here.  Manipulating the character, his items, the henchman, and the gameís camera are all intuitive and fluid.  At no point in the game did I feel like the engine or interface was getting in the way of my exploration--a problem inherent in many role-playing games, including a favorite of mine, Morrrowind.  Here, my favorite asset is the 36 quick-action slots that are available at all times.  It is incredibly easy to whip off a potion or spell on-the-fly using the system, making even the hardest battles manageable.

 

If you liked the original, itís hard to imagine why you wouldnít like this expansion.  It is the same mix of RPG action and puzzle-solving and even has a story that is more compelling than the original game.  If, however, the original game fell flat with you, there is no reason to believe this expansion would change anything.

 

- Tolen Dante

(October 11, 2003)

 

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