A Cynical Look On Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir

Edit: About the Cartels: Google is telling me that a lot of people are ending up on this page searching for info about them. So here are your questions answered:
If you're wondering, the last level of the cartel does not offer any special reward. It sucks and seems unfinished because honestly, it never was.
The "merchant" the cartels send you is that guy they put near the entrance. He has nothing to sell you. The only benefit to signing up with them is that they add more items to the blacksmith for you to buy.
The only difference between the cartels are the types of items that get sent to the blacksmith for you to buy, your feat reward, and how people react to your decision.
Depressing, I know-- but that's it.

Storm of Zehir, the newest Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion pack, is one of the most recent DnD RPGs to roll off the rack. Its game dynamics, although similar to the unexpanded version, have been largely revamped. The expansion does make many changes to the game play that I applaud. The new traveling system is an improvement, and the game finally allows you to have up to 4 characters custom made instead of being forced to travel with characters that you find along the road. Also, no specific characters are required to continue the quest line and the options and affects of speech skills like diplomacy and bluff have been greatly elaborated on.

The game takes a different approach than most expansion packs. Instead of taking place after the previous expansion pack, Mask of the Betrayer, it starts as it's own game that takes place after the original game. It feels more like a mod than an expansion pack, given that there is no expanding on the original storyline done.

That being said, only buy Storm of Zehir if you like your games to feel unfinished. Storm of Zehir is so bugged that it is barely operational, it has poor itemization, and is a game that ends halfway through its story.

As typical with the Neverwinter Nights Series, the Camera is a nightmare to control, you will find yourself looking at a brick wall at the most crucial of moments and will therefore spend most of your time in battle with the game on pause, trying to find your characters. This may be a feature, however, given how everything else has since turned out. Something to make you quit before wasting hours of your life. The new expansion also introduces its own problems, from missing key NPCs to quests that you can not turn in, it makes you wonder if they even spent any time beta testing the game at all!

You had better hope that you are a Mage, Rogue, or nudist, because if not, this game doesn't have gear for you.

I found myself walking around with over Six Million gold and not having anything to spend it on, all the while using items that seemed to cap out at +3 enchantment levels. In the last battle one of the two bosses dropped a +3 tower shield as his reward. The game also only has two merchants that have any useful items to sell you.This game uses a new system that makes items much easier to make and enchant. The only problem is that there are no good enchants! I plundered practically every area in the game and personally found no better than a +2 enchant for a weapon or +3 for armor. You actually have to finish the game before you can go back and get a +4 armor and +3 weapon enchant. This is sad because the previous game went up to at least +5 and in mask of Betrayer it was common to see enchants upwards of +8. Even if you were fighting at a higher level, it seems odd that an expansion would end before the original version did.

The Story:
Storm of Zehir has so many problems with its story that at times it feels like someone has replaced your hamster wheel with a brick wall. Only at one point in the game did I feel like I was fighting some sort of boss, whereas usual Dungeons and Dragons games will have several. Don't count on conclusions to your storylines. The developers apparently found them unnecessary. For example, paying for and achieving the last rank in the merchant cartels offers no experience, no quests, and no recognition of any sort. You are also repeatedly told to ask certain mobs for quests when these mobs either don't exist, or never offer any sort of quest to begin with.

The biggest downfall in the story is the end of this game. After you kill the final boss you talk to the god Zehir who makes it seem like the fight was a preliminary fight to get to him and is only "one of his many schemes" Excited that you have more to do, you walk out the door to find that you can return to adventuring, only the main quest line is over, and the option to "retire from adventuring" becomes available. When you select this option the game ends and a person begins to tell a story that explains what happens to everything after the fact, all things that I could not help but feel I should have been able to play through.

This game took me about 28 hours to complete (including all side quests and wandering around aimlessly) Overall I rate the Storm of Zehir expansion pack a 65 out of 100. If you don't mind the lack of attention to detail and plot holes, this still makes for a fairly decent game. My suggestion is to wait, hopefully a patch will come out that fixes some of its numerous problems.


Wester A Chincey said...

...and personally found no better than a +2 enchant for a weapon or +3 for armor. You actually have to finish the game before you can go back and get a +4 armor and +3 weapon enchant. This is sad because the previous game went up to at least +5 and in mask of Betrayer it was common to see enchants upwards of +8This is actually a strength for many who found the 3.5 concept unappealing that characters were only tough because they had really good gear. Making magic a little more precious was one aspect I really enjoyed about SoZ.

Mr. Sam said...

It wasn't the fact that the enchants only went that high, it was the fact that the game just wasn't long enough to get up to the higher level enchants.