Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide

Shadows of Undrentide, the first expansion pack for Neverwinter Nights, is a product divided. One half is a story-based role-playing adventure set in D&D’s Forgotten Realms universe. The other half is the all-new content for digital Dungeon Masters creating modules and campaigns.

3_1Floodgate obviously took the criticisms of the original Neverwinter Nights campaign to heart. Gone are the rows and racks of empty barrels and boxes, and the developer has replaced the much-abused infinite recall system with a ring that requires crystals in order to teleport home. Major encounters are more difficult, and mage foes are a much bigger threat. You can now work with the inventories of your henchmen and kit them out for specific encounters. Best of all, the gameplay has a bigger focus towards dungeon puzzles and character interaction.

The plot puts you in the boots of the favorite pupil of one Master Drogan, a dwarven wizard and adventurer of wide repute. When a company of kobolds storm his Hilltop quarters and steal a quartet of ancient artifacts, you are sent forth to recover them. Sadly, the story that brings much of the experience down. When it isn’t mired in the bog-standard conventions of stereotypical D&D plot construction, the writing itself features some painfully forced humor and stiff dialogue. Dialogue trees with NPCs fare somewhat better, weaving in commentary from your henchmen.

Mods were a big part of Neverwinter Nights, and as such you’ll see a nice set of tools to facilitate that activity here as well. First there is a set of new terrain types (winter / desert), new monsters and several awesome dungeon tiles. The winter terrain is a little less exciting, although the incidental snow effects, along with a few frost-bitten temples and caverns, add a nice northern ambience. New spells are available, including the popular “Bigby’s Hand†types. All of the new assets graft nicely into the toolset.

Undrentide is a good continuation of the original Neverwinter Nights, going for the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach’. But it won’t win many hearts over with its formulaic story and merely so-so quests.

System Requirements:Pentium II 233 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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