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    dkirschner's Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (PC)

    [February 3, 2011 10:50:43 PM]
    Just finished Storm of Zehir. Well, I didn't actually finish because, as usual, the final battle of a NWN game is all but impossible for what I'd consider a normal player like myself. I did finish NWN2 and Mask of the Betrayer, but this one I couldn't pull off after a lot of tries and even reading strategies. My group composition was fine, but all the guides had characters at least a few levels higher than mine, and I've no intention to go grind on the overland map. I watched the battle on Youtube and the good ending that I would have gotten, so it's okay.

    SoZ was pretty good. I loved it at first, but less and less as it went on. Some things about SoZ:

    Create-a-party! Yes, in SoZ, you can custom build your entire party. Alternatively, you can find cohorts (NPCs) to join you. Or, you do a mixture. I created four, and then got 2 cohorts. This gave a lot of freedom instead of being pigeon-holed into selecting preset characters (which are always very well built, but you never know what you'll get). So I planned for some prestige classes: an arcane archer, stormlord, warpriest, and frenzied berzerker. I've really never successfully made good prestige classes in these games before because I usually go straight one class, or sometimes my cohorts have prestige classes, but they are cool! It's hard to hit all the requirements and to gain the prestige class timely if you don't almost perfectly plan. My 'main' character was what I hoped would become an arcane archer, but he never made it because I failed to give him enough intelligence to cast 1st level arcane spells, a requirement for the arcane archer. Oddly, you can delete and remake and pull in and swap out custom party members, all except the first one you create, which sucked, because I messed up the arcane archer, and so just ended up having a xranger/1wizard who couldn't even use the wizard spells because of low intelligence. My bad my bad! But the stormlord was a badass, the frenzied berserker did a ton of damage, and the warpriest was an awesome healer (although the AI and party settings as usual were really stupid most of the time, like, the warpriest wouldn't heal, my cohort wizard would start using her crossbow even when I had her on overkill casting mode and she had a ton of unused spells). My two cohorts were the wizard for a spell slinger and another druid with an amazing dinosaur pet. Neither one were interesting as characters, but they were good additions. So, create-a-party: thumbs up.

    Overland Map! SoZ uses an idea like the World Map in a typical RPG where you travel from town to town, instead of warping around like in other NWN games. I liked it. One unique thing about it was discoveries. Hidden locations abound, and if you walk near them, sometimes you'll 'discover' it, and can go in a temple or some ruins, find some treasure, do a quest, whatever. It made the explorer in me happy. However, I wish I had read the details of it before playing because there are a couple things I failed at for not knowing. Hide, search, survival, spot...those types of skills are so useful for the overland map because you'll encounter random enemies spawning, and if they catch you, or you approach them, you have the option to fight. Hide logically makes it more difficult for enemies to see you. Spot makes it easier for you to see enemies far away. Survival increases movement speed on the map. Having those three or similar skills lets you have more control over the map, over when and what you fight, which is important because the random battles get tedious after a while. None are difficult, and none drop any good loot. It's just a way to grind experience I think. Like, if I want to go finish the last battle, I would go grind a few levels on the overland map. Boring, right? And monsters attack you when you're just trying to go somewhere and it gets annoying. So those skills are good. But, I didn't know that, so I made a bunch of low intelligence characters with about none of those skills. If I'd known, I would have made a rogue or something, or made my ranger smarter, and beefed up those skills, and made that my 'map character' because the map uses whichever character you select's stats for those checks. I still did all right with what I had, but could have been better.

    Party Conversation! Like how you can switch between characters on the overland map to use the best one, you can switch between characters in conversation to select unique dialogue options. This was very cool, though as mentioned, most of my characters were too stupid to have many dialogue options. My cohort druid and wizard usually had something different to say, my warpriest had high charisma and diplomacy skills, and my berzerker could intimidate. The conversation thing was also used on the overland map when encountering enemies. Of course you can fight and escape. If the enemy is humanoid, you can parlay, and have some other options if they can't speak, and taking your characters together, may be able to bribe them, tell them you've killed their kind before, intimidate them, use tanglefoot bags to run away faster, ask them questions, and so on. It was pretty neat.

    Fiscal Responsibility! SoZ has a weird economy aspect. The story revolves around a trading company and a yuan-ti god (the story is REALLY light, so odd for a NWN game). It's your job to make this trading company flourish. That involves establishing trading posts at all the towns you go to, buying and selling supplies and rare minerals and things from town to town (buy low sell high!), and establishing trade routes with caravans between towns. Another function of the overland map is to see the caravans in motion, and the enemies sometimes waylay them, and you can jump in and save the caravans. It's neat. Anyway, you level up the trade routes (pay lots of gold to make them safer and more profitable) and it just goes on its own for the most part. I thought this would be a large part of the game, but taken with everything else, trading was very minimal, which is too bad, because it was fun to make money and upgrade trade routes. It was also fun to upgrade Crossroad Keep, though unfortunately there were only about 5 things to upgrade. You can also upgrade your standing with some merchant factions, and again unfortunately, there were only about 3 levels to go through, and all this leveling up of things was very easy and very fast and consequently felt way too short and inconsequential. You never really get to experience the fruits of your labors. As soon as I started getting into upgrading trade routes and making some cash, the story moved on past that area of the game and I never needed to go back. But it is such a cool idea with some potential to be changed for the better!

    Continuity! I like expansions that make sense to follow the original, or sequels that do the same. Not crazy far-fetched, but nice, plausible, logical extensions, side stories, and so on. NWN2 did real good. Mask of the Betrayer continued with the Shard-Bearer's story, while SoZ continued with Crossroad Keep and the Sword Coast, focusing on rebuilding the economy there after the events of NWN2. So although SoZ didn't have much in the way of a storyline, what little it had was tied nicely to the original campaign, and I appreciate that.

    And then, as I said, the game did get a bit tedious by the end and I played the last few hours over days because it was like work to slog through the final areas, all to face the final battle and get slaughtered over and over. No worries though. I enjoyed the game a lot overall and glad I played it.
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    dkirschner's Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 25 January, 2011

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 3 February, 2011

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Just played MotB, which was no less than incredible. Expecting the same from SoZ! ----------- Good game, unique aspects (for NWN games) including trading, overland map, custom party and dialogue options. Some aspects undeveloped or too lacking, last fight too much for me, not much story.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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    1 : Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (PC) by Fulgetra (rating: 5)


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