Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 3, 2009

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate

I'm managing to squeeze along, so I thought I'd take a short break with a cheap game: the Mysteries of Westgate "Adventure Pack". Well, I'll tell you right now that the only reason I finished the thing was because I was planning to blog about it. At best, it gets a D+. I've played FREE modules by AMATEURS that were better than this thing.

Probably the worst problem right off the bat is that the thing is buggy. The game crashed more times with this module than it did the last time I played the original campaign all the way through. In addition, there are many "cut scene" dialogs where either there's no voiceover or the voiceover is broken in some way. In either case: BOOO!!!

From a gameplay perspective there's absolutely nothing new. If you've played the rest of the NwN2 releases you're not going to find anything surprising in this one.

The worst aspect of the adventure pack is, by far, the plot. It is *horrible*, like something an eleven-year-old might come up with if you asked them for something "devious". There's no intrigue, in fact, due to the way the module is set up it might even be the diametric opposite of intrigue. All of the areas are present (and most of them are LABELED ON YOUR MAP) from the beginning, the developers just make judicious use of mysteriously locked doors until you stumble upon the correct key/event/whatever that causes the door to become equally mysteriously *unlocked*. The results of this are predictable.

Take just one example: toward the end of the game you find a note from a, quote, "mysterious figure", named Kajeel. Well, if you've done any exploring at all by this point (and you have, it's pretty much obligatory), you already KNOW who Kajeel is--he's an illithid who runs a bar that is guarded by a Dao Genie in the "under city" area. This isn't mysterious! This is like finding a grocery list stuck to your refrigerator. Ooo, I wonder who it's from? Maybe it's from mom! Add to this the fact that you stumble upon at least a dozen of these accidentally dropped notes, necklaces, gems, conversations etc. etc. etc. throughout the game until you begin to believe the conspirators are throwing this stuff around like candy at a parade. They relentlessly beat you over the head with the clues and give you no opportunity at all to figure out anything by yourself. Your job is just to go where they told you to go and hope a new clue falls out of the sky onto your idiot head. It's a good thing they do, too, because you'd be lost otherwise.

The side-quests are awful, too. Most of them are downright silly (intentionally so), but they also tend to be unnecessarily convoluted, forcing you to run to four or five different locations all over the city (and, of course, endure several loading screens each time) in order to get the item for whatshisname. I'm sorry, but those obligatory fetch quests were tedious when they were straightforward. The silly aspect also makes the end of the game stupid, because there's a sudden change in direction as the writer apparently remembered he was supposed to be doing a horror story and threw in some blood and slavery and betrayal at the last second. Unfortunately, now there's no chance at all of you taking it seriously.

Even the NPC's who join you don't seem very impressed, spending most of the game bickering with each other and complaining about your actions. They're more caricatures than characters. There were several times I was actually pleased because I managed to annoy all three of them simultaneously by choosing to take the most direct route.

So, in conclusion, is Westgate worth $10? No. Give it a miss and go find a nice fan module to play if you're bored.

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