Neverwinter Nights: Diamond
Yet another compilation pack of the Neverwinter Nights roleplaying adventures set in the fabled world of the Forgotten Lands and using the 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons Rules.
From what I remember there have been a couple of other compilations - Neverwinter Nights Gold and then Neverwinter Nights Platinum. That there is now another demonstrates the popularity of this classic series. Each collection builds on the last so this one, Neverwinter Nights: Diamond, is overflowing with goodies. Each NWN release, compilation or not, has also included an online option as well as the Aurora Tool Set for making your very own adventures or 'modules' and sharing them with friends. There are, literally, dozens of these modules available, made by enthusiasts, that you can download from the Neverwinter Nights website.
First up in this compilation there's the original Neverwinter Nights game which I reviewed back in 2002, so no need for details here. I had a quick look around 3 years later and started my search for the source of the plague threatening the land. To be honest it was so tempting to continue to the end, I had to force myself to put this adventure aside and look further.
Next up in the package are the two expansion packs, Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, shorter than the original game, but still substantial and just as much, if not more, fun. Once again you can read the Quandary reviews of these adventures. Set in a snowy landscape, Undrentide has you chasing after some powerful artefacts stolen from your mentor, Drogan, and, finally, in Underdark there's a darker journey to overcome a rising evil deep within the earth beneath the City of Waterdeep.
Previous compilation packages came with several modules with bite size chunks of play and they are also included here. Added to this Neverwinter Nights: Diamond brings three more 'Premium modules' from the Bioware community which can also be bought separately as the Neverwinter Nights: Kingmaker expansion pack. These modules include Kingmaker itself, ShadowGuard and Witch's Wake. Once more they are short and sweet and offer up fun challenges, well maybe a little less fun than the main games because there really is no time to fashion your character.
In Kingmaker you are resurrected from an unfortunate demise as you fight off invaders before the Keep of Cyan. Your mysterious saviour urges you on and inside the Keep you learn the ruler is dead. Your destiny is to take his place and become Lady (or Lord) of the Keep. To do that there's a barrier of intrigue to be waded through and work to be done to gain the allegiance of the various Guilds. Because you can't complete all the quest this one feels a little rushed, but the quests you do are fun and so is chatting to your companions, no matter which ones you take along. It also offers replay value if you don't want to miss anything.
In ShadowGuard you are about to graduate from the Imperial Academy and join the prestigious ShadowGuards. Alas your loving father, Magistrate of the City of Ghaarak, fails to turn up for the ceremony so you go ahead without him. It's then time to prove your worth to the ShadowGuards, some slaves to free, a kidnapped victim to rescue, before you stumble across the conspiracy that preoccupies your father.
In Witch's Wake you are the sole survivor of a fierce battle after the dying Prince tells you to deliver a message to the King. 'Tell the King that she is dead'. But who is 'she' and who are you? The battle has left you with no memory so the people you meet know more about you and your destiny than you do. So off you go following a trail to be directed from one place to the next, picking up scraps of unsettling information but never getting the full story. It's an intriguing tale, my favourite of the bunch, but it's a tale without end as it isn't resolved by the end of the module. To be continued...
The Neverwinter Nights Diamond comes on a single DVD. I installed it on one computer that already had the Gold version installed, it went smoothly and I had easy access to all my carefully crafted characters from previous adventures. I also installed afresh on a second computer and again the process was simple. You do need to install each component of the pack and once up and running you can pick and chose between the various games.
To play Neverwinter Nights there is a small learning curve if you haven't sampled it before, but there is lots of feedback and information available such as a good map you can write to, and a comprehensive journal that logs quests as current or completed. There is a PDF manual on the disk that you may need to print out if this is your first run through.
Each of the Neverwinter Nights games is highly story driven and there's a lot to sink your teeth (and your sword) into. For me it was fun to go back to the Forgotten Worlds, and this package is well worth the price if you're an rpg fan. Perhaps the graphics are a tinge dated, and the interface could be refined a little, but it still comes together nicely. It's a good long lead in to the next Neverwinter adventure that's on the horizon somewhere.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2005.
All rights reserved.
Pentium II 300 MHz or AMD K6-2 350 MHz, Win 98/Me/2000SP2/XP, 96 MB of RAM. DirectX 8.1, 16 MB TNT2-class, Open GL 1.2 compliant video card, DirectX certified sound card.