March 4, 2007

Neverwinter Nights 2, Obsidian Entertainment and the “rushed game syndrome”

Posted in RPG at 11:50 by theBlackDragon

Obsidian Entertainment, creator of Neverwinter Nights 2 and Knights of the Old Republic 2 (the first installment of both of these games was done by Bioware), both games with huge potential that they managed to screw over royally in the same way, heh, when speaking solely about RPGs I’d nearly call it the “Obsidian way”.

So how come they still get such favorable reviews? Simple, they never manage to finish any of their games properly, they create a great story, a great start to that story and then when you expect the story to finally really get going, when you’re already totally addicted they just drop the hammer on you. They did it in KotOR2 and they do it again in NWN2. Reviewers never notice because they obviously don’t play every game they have to review to the finish.

The fact that you can eventually obtain your own keep in NWN2 is something they’re very proud of, but it is, in a way, one of the major letdowns in the game. Sure, it’s nice to have, well worked out and all that, but at the same time you gain your keep you also get the full dose of linearity of the NWN2 OC (Original Campain, as it is known to NWN players) thrown into your face. There are virtually no (none, zero, nada, noppes) side quests in the entire game and the ones that are there usually revolve around picking up something or someone along the way during a part of the main quest. So there went my idea of using my keep as a nice base of operations while racking up the gold needed for repairs to said keep by doing sidequests.

Still the main storyline is worked out reasonably well although the endgame, as in KotOR2, boiled down to butchering whole legions of “baddies” and then whacking the “boss” in an epic battle followed by a horrible “cinematic” explaining what “happened” to you and your party. For me this was the biggest anticlimax in any game up till now, at least in KotOR2 they told you what would happen to (most of) your companions (quite literally too) and you yourself had some future perspective, but none of that in NWN2, you and your companions “dissapear”.

I know I sound awfully negative here, but the truth is that I really enjoyed the game the first time through so the ending cinematic was a really big letdown. The lineairness of the OC really didn’t bother me the first time through, but I doubt I’ll be replaying this game very often.

I really really wish companies would start decently finishing games for once, no more obviously rushed games please.

Games that were decent to good and would have been great if actually finished:

  • Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines (Troika, no longer exists)
    • contained more bugs and quircks than Windows ME
  • Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (Obsidian)
    • lots of bugs (crashing, savegame corruption)
    • unfinished story with lots of content cut in such a hasty way that you can’t help but notice (unless you’re blind or think that references to areas marked on maps but which you can’t reach are “normal”, there’s even proof an entire planet was hastily cut (it’s still referenced in HK-47’s dialogs which are still in the game))
    • a lot of stuff in the (obviously rushed) ending didn’t make any sense because too much got cut
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 (Obsidian)
    • lots of bugs (needed a 100MB patch file the first time I started playing, seemed to have fixed most issues though)
    • rushed ending
    • (very) weak ending cinematic

I guess I’ll have to wait with buying any games from now on until the first reports from people that have actually finished it start tickling in as reviews have proven not to be trustworthy. But at least in NWN2’s case we can hope for good community created content.