One thing I've noticed since starting a blog is that nobody comes here to read about news first, so announcing that Storm of Zehir was released seems like I'm telling you something you already know. Especially since it was released four days ago.
Of course, being as how you can't really mod for NWN2 and NOT be up to date with the patches and expansions and the like, I bought it. In some ways, I feel like I'm one of the few, and depending on the social stigma carried by saying this ("Oh, he liked Storm of Zehir..." *snort* "...I bet he's never read Nietzche." *drink douchebag Starbucks frappaccino while typing on laptop in Starbucks using their free wireless*) who, in case you couldn't tell from that fictional scenario (I also went to Starbucks the other day and got some bananna mango smoothie thing), actually does like SoZ. I also liked SoU the most, and while I look for my shrugging shoulder smiley, please continue to the next paragraph:
I haven't played it a whole lot, since time is precious and all, but it's a welcome change of pace for me. There seems to have been a certain formula followed by the NWN franchise, dating probably back to BG or some other overrated game. Ruffled your feathers there? Then at least let me say this: I tried it on Gametap not long ago, being as how I missed the golden age of CRPGs apparently, and rose tinted glasses folks. That game is passable at best, but that it's propped up as one of the pinnacles of CRPG gaming is a mystery to me, it just wasn't that much fun to play. But I digress, the point here being that read a lot of questionable quality dialogue, get a quest, combat through a long dungeon with the occasional dialogue encounter where you may make a skill check comprised nearly the entirety of the gameplay of the whole franchise. The only exceptions to that really are MotB and SoZ, both of which made better use of other gameplay elements.
Of course when a new gameplay element is added, people tend not to take well to it for deviating from the formula kind of explains the whole phenomena. Spirit Meter? Everything about SoZ? Alright, if that's the way it is...
So I'm sorry folks, we're just going to have to agree to disagree here. That there's no "Hey, tell me about your past..." option on the companions doesn't outweigh that there's an overland map that uses a dozen skills to influence a dozen different aspects of it. A lack of companion interjections doesn't offset the new "hey, their skills matter too and this is a huge improvement" factor we've got going on here; you did build your own party after all.
And perhaps I'm just not a hardcore/traditionalist when it comes to RPGs?
There are, however, a number of annoyances. I could easily see the load screens being annoying for the random encounters, the buff stripping of long term buffs when transitioning to the map, the slow movement on the overland map...
I'll put it to you like this, about five minutes in after you get to the shore, if you didn't like the before and during of that battle, you won't like SoZ. If you did, well there you go. As far as building goes, there's some new stuff in there we can make use of. If you're a builder I recommned playing with it some, the skill use is exactly what most people should be paying attention to as they do also, so few mods make use of skills in any way, and those that do are usually limited to dialogue skills.
Far as the BR project goes, building is underway officially. We'll begin to dessiminate new information pretty soon.