I'm sort of cheating on this one - I don't have Neverwinter Nights anymore. It got lost at some point between moves and changing machines. Good old Games (gog.com) has it for $10 though, and I've been considering picking it up again on principle, but I have too many other games on my backlog to pick that one up right now. So, how is am I going to review this? Well, about 4 years ago I wrote a review on Neverwinter Nights on another site, including a few pictures I had captured at the time. If you want to see the original review, it was on a sight called Gather.
The reason I'm choosing this for my Retro Reflection? Well, for those who have been paying visits to my blog over the last several days, you know I was doing a large Dragon Age blowout. I thoroughly enjoy those games, and they are made by one of my favorite game studios, Bioware. Neverwinter Nights was the first game of theirs I had played, and I can see a lot of parallels between that game, and the Neverwinter Night series. Here is how I reviewed Neverwinter Nights back then. For me this was also interesting because I have not read through this review in a long time, and yet it seems my style of review was similar then than it is now, even though I took a few years off from writing game reviews in any form (I published this Sept 22, 2007). Anyway, here it is:
To begin there is a great deal of flexibility when creating your character. You can also advance in a great variety of ways as you gain levels. There is a ton of gear to be found, and some lively monsters to use these findings against. The story itself is fairly long, but there are plenty of things to do along the way in the form of side quests. There are nowhere near as many as say, Oblivion or even some of the final fantasy games, but your decisions can make an impact on things down the road and help you establish the character to your liking.
There were also some expansion packs to be bought for the game. There is also a very large community that has been fueled by other players. Modules, artwork, music packs and more have been created by Neverwinter Nights players, for Neverwinter Nights players. I suspect this has a great deal to do with the game's continued success, even though years passed since its release.
Graphics: Decent, but could have been better. Even considering the game's release date, the Aurora engine that fueled it seemed dated at the time. Still, they were functional graphics and the camera angles were very adjustable, which helped to prevent things from getting lost in the somewhat frantic combat that would take place.
Sound and music: Excllent. The voice acting was a bit spotty in places, but with so much of it one can hardly nitpick since most of it was solid. The music was incredibly memorable as well, with stirring battle songs and soft melodies depending on the scene and time. Creature and spell sound effects are also quite solid, and the way sounds move in and out depending on your proximity is also quite nice. For example if you stand next to a fireplace it will crackle loudly, but step away from it and it begins to fade out.
Game play: About as good as could be expected. The point and click interface made movement easy, menus painless enough to navigate, hotkeys to simply the matter even further and I seldom had difficulty in selecting the enemies or friendly characters I wanted to interact with.
Intangibles: The abound. Want to play a noble knight? Feel free. Rogue interested in only his or her own welfare? That works as well. Customization? Check - this game has it in spades. Replay value? It's actually quite high due to the different classes, races and choices that can be made along the way. The final success? The Neverwinter Nights community that has provided so much quality content over the years has really done a spectacular job of extending the life of this game.
Score: I will score this game a 9. I really want to rate it higher. I played through it and the expansions twice, played several of the modules and could pick it up today and whittle away the hours again. Still, the graphics did prove lacking at times, there were bugs in the game at times, the AI can be exploited and the dialog is sometimes weak, especially in the base story.