Indeed, Beamdog is a developer and publisher with a mission. The fine work they did in the past few years in revamping a number of classic CRPG titles, promoting the whole genre and lifting it from the quagmire of the recession had earned them a special place in the modern gaming industry. Although, as it seems, Beamdog still remains uninterested in developing their own original games, they had been doing something even more exciting and vital: they had allotted themselves a role of a hallowed custodian of the CRPG genre, capable not only to optimize forgotten gems to work flawlessly on modern gaming configurations but also to enrich them with new content skillfully designed to immaculately complement and expand what original titles had to offer us. In short, I frequently mention them in my prayers and so should you – here’s why.
With resurrected classics such as Baldur’s Gate 1&2, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment under their +3 magical belt, they had finally decided to tackle with the final missing piece of RPG puzzle and publish Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition (PC), which was released this year in March. This decision carries a considerable symbolic significance because back in 2002 when this award-winning Bioware’s classic originally appeared, it was envisioned that, in a way, it should serve as a bridge between the RPG games of the old and new generation. Neverwinter Nights had a great story about heroic deeds, dark conspiracies, loves lost, friendships and betrayals, endowed with all those crucial elements we adore about CRPG games. It also boasted satisfying gameplay based on the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons rules (in comparison, other CRPGs they had enhanced were all based on 2nd edition, so the first Neverwinter game was indeed all about merging the old and new), mesmerizing soundtrack, bunch of expansion packs and additional content, as well as, for that time, excellent full 3D graphics. All those features had marked Neverwinter Nights as sort of transitional title towards the next generation of RPG games. And now, the life cycle of this awesome game is finally complete, because it has recently been released for one of the world’s most popular gaming platforms – Android mobile phones and tablets. The dissemination to the broadest layers of the gaming community may begin!
Now, what you can expect to find out in this Android version and how it (if at all) differs from the one which had appeared for PC? First of all, let’s quickly go through all the content you’ll be getting in this mobile version of cult classic CRPG. Naturally, it goes without saying that you’ll get the original campaign of the game. In addition, you’ll also get both of its awesome expansion packs – Shadows of the Undertide and Hordes of the Underdark – as well as Kingmaker, Witch’s Wake and ShadowGuard, three of its numerous premium modules which will add up to 40 engrossing hours to your adventures in the world of The Forgotten Realms. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of modules in this context, think of them as stories of individual scenarios that provide additional Neverwinter content and which were created with the official toolset which was included with the game. The large number of them was fan made, so they can vary in quality quite a bit, from poor to spectacular, and those three modules included in this version of the game are truly representative examples of module-making. Essentially, you’ll get loads of content in one place, with the identical content to that which was available in the spectacular Diamond version of the game, and all of that just for $10.07, a bargain for a lifetime of adventuring in Faerûn – its replay value is that great.
One of the major criticisms of the PC version of the Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition was that its visuals aren’t enhanced as much as an average modern gamer could wish for. If we don’t count a number of different tweaks such as the support for the higher resolutions and sharper textures, the graphics remained pretty much the same. However, although generally 3D graphics of the older generation admittedly don’t age as well as hand-drawn isometric visuals of Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment, I somehow don’t think this lack of fresh spit and polish is such a big deal, perhaps because I’ve played the Neverwinter Nights in the golden days and I still clearly remember my own extremely positive impression about its graphics. In any case, what may seem like a big fault in the PC version, isn’t so apparent on the much smaller screens of Android devices, especially because this particular version includes several advanced graphics options designed to smarten up the visual presentation as much as possible. Finally, you can also expect a number of cool features specifically included in this Android version, such as user interface redesigned for phones and tablets, the ability to use old save games and modules made for some of the old desktop versions of Neverwinter Nights, as well as cross-platform capability for the multiplayer mode. That means that you can play on your mobile device, while your friends can use a desktop computer.
All in all, Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is a worthy addition to the classic Beamdog gaming library. Its appearance might seem a bit anachronistic to some of you who are used to flashier and a bit more polished graphics of the modern times, but its story hasn’t aged a day from 2002 and it still holds many charms and considerably emotional capacity, especially with all the great dialogues and plot twists that you’ll encounter along your way. So, my heartfelt recommendation is to treat yourself with this great CRPG classic and, if you can choose, definitely get the mobile version, because nothing beats the feeling that you’re holding the entire continent of Faerûn in your pocket.