The follow-up to NWN-the much-revered "RPG Game of the Year 2002"-Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN 2) is finally here. NWN went down in the annals of gaming history as the first RPG ever to combine the hardcore D&D rule set into such an involving game. NWN 2 follows suit, with a brand-new graphics engine, an even more epic storyline, and subtle elements interwoven into the gameplay that add to the overall experience.
Like the new playable classes. Besides adding a race to the mix of elves, dwarves, and barbarians, you now have a bunch of new prestige classes, and a new base class The Warlock. Character customisation is much more involving than in NWN, and fans will spend a lot of time building characters and customising them.
Without any spoilers, the story plays you as a nondescript resident of a tiny village, West Harbor. You're tasked by your rather stern stepfather with retrieving a magical shard from nearby. Upon successful return you discover the town's been attacked-naturally, the attackers wanted the shard you just acquired. You are then packed off by "dad" to the city of Neverwinter. Needless to say, adventures abound en route and later.
Developer : Atari
Publisher : Obsidian
System Requirements : Pentium IV 1.8 GHz or equivalent,512 MB RAM, Direct X 9 compliant 128 MB graphics card,Direct X 9 compliant sound card
What's really wonderful is the way the story involves you, with storyline missions, sideline missions, and some mini-game-like elements, like playing Lord of your very own keep! That's all the tantalising storyline titbits you'll get from me…
NWN 2 earns a must-play tag even before you consider its excellent visuals. Although not the most splendid-looking RPG title, the graphics are very much up there. Spell and weapon effects are excellent, and so are character model animations. The Aurora 2 engine really delivers!
NWN 2 isn't really taxing graphically, except at maximum detail and high resolutions, at which even the 512 MB on my x1900xt didn't help much. There were just a couple of instances of framing, though, during the countless late-night sessions spent smiting evil and great cleaving! A must-try for any gamer worth his sand.
Suit Up, Pilot!
The best way to elicit tortured groans from any game reviewer is to throw a World War II game at him. The theme has spawned some of the most ridiculous games we've played, but thankfully, IL-2 Sturmovik 1946 isn't a product of that heartless factory.
The IL-2 flight simulator series has been around for five years now, and this edition is effectively a round-up of the game and its expansion packs through the years, plus three new ones-PE-2, Sturmoviks over Manchuria and 46. The missions and campaigns give some long-overdue attention to the Axis side of WWII as well, even letting you bomb Pearl Harbour! All this adds up to a total of more than 300 different aircraft (and you can fly around 200 of these), so expect to be kept busy for a long time.
Like all worthy flight sims, you can't just jump into the game without familiarising yourself with the long list of flight controls and training missions. Gameplay is as beginner-friendly as these games can get-you can tweak the level of realism you get, though it's fairly tough even at the easiest level. At its most realistic, IL-2 is pure torture, and will only appeal to hardcore fans of the genre. One nifty feature you'll need when you're starting out is the time-stretching feature, which lets you slow down the game to a quarter of its normal speed-excellent when you're learning combat. Low-altitude dogfights are extremely challenging, and can be a thrill as you battle it out while trying to keep your wings from hitting treetops. The variety of aircraft at your disposal is mind-boggling, and each has its own perfectly-crafted eccentricities.