Saturday, November 22, 2008

Storm of Zehir Released

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.

12 comments:

Liso said...

"laughs"

DW, it is ok if you like SoZ, I do not think the community divided are going to toss you to the hungry loins for liking it.

BTW, your module has been made example a few times over on the bioware SoZ forums. :P

I'll be interested to see what you manage with the new tools!

Regards
Michele

WitchWolf said...

I've yet to play that thing, but going by what I've heard so far... Nope, I don't think I'll have one positive word to say about it. As a rule of a thumb, if the devs spend more time fawning over the "wondrful new overland map" "graphical performance" "usable skills" and so on over the actual gamelpay, NPC personality and interactivity etc then... I really don't see a major difference between Diablo and this. *shrug*

On a technical side, there seems to be some "lovely" issues popping up with fan-made mods after SoZ gets installed. Scripts get all messed up or some such, or so i've been told. For me, who only wanted to isntal it so that I could play through SoT2 properly, this doesn't bode well. And that's without even going into the whole "MotB voice files get eradicated upon installation" thing.

Moving on, I dunno what sorts of new goodies for modders does this expansion offers (I don't think I could mod to save my life). If it gives you more stuff to play around with, then that's great, and just about the only positive SoZ related thing I ran into. Provided, of course, that SoZ doesn't screw all the previous mods up big time. ;(

On the final note, I must stand up to defend BG and IWD here. By today's standards, those games do look silly and outdated, but back when they first came out... Oh man... *dreamy eyes* And they still top today's rpg titles ten-to-one in almost every field important for rpg games. Those games had true open-endedness (as much as you can have it in a D&D title anyway), actual flesh-and-blood NPCs and party members, with their distinct personalities, issues and ideas/ideals. The PCs choices and actions actually had some real impact on the game-world. And should you push it too far with some folks, you could end up with the rest of the party turning against you, for isntance... which is such a stark contrast to, say, being able to take a certain paladin along on an assassination mission. Also, in BG, while not voice-overed, the party members had their fights and biskernings and whatonts... more 3D personalities and more meaningful interaction than any NWN title thus far.
IWD on its part, while having the old-school six-members party thing, also happened to have a wonderful, all but black-and-white story and again, plenty of meaningful choices and consequences of the party's actions. It was also the first game where you could play a drow or a tiefling and the first one in which race actually mattered. In SoZ, as someone tells me, the guards will shout at you being a yuan-ti spy incessently, yet not once will they comment on you actually having a yuan-ti pureblood as a party member. Lack of immersion there much?

In short, both IWD and BG titles had all thsoe aspects of gameplay that I praised to hells and beyond in SoT. ;) Comparing either of the two to SoZ is, imo, a blashepmy to really good games. I could maybe forgive the SoZ devs lots of things, but daring to try and pass that dreck as a spiritual sucessor of the old school titles such as IWD and BG is just... unforgivable.


To cap it off, sorry for the rant. I've been pissed about SoZ from the first moment it was announced, thus I really can't hold my tongue about it. I'm also currently devastated by the attoricty Fallout 3 turned out to be, which only adds to my overall crankiness these days. In the end, as long as SoZ has some positive impact on SoT (and any future projects you might have), it'll justify it's existance on this earth to me. ;)

dirtywick said...

Liso,

I certainly hope it was mentioned with something good!

WitchWolf,

Hey, how are you? Haven't spoken in a while.

Yep, the scripts are apparently messed up a bit. There's supposed to be a fix in the works, when it's released I'll know more. If it doesn't revert to it's regular working state, man, I have a lot of work to do!

The overland map also has a TON of unrealized potential. The mods a guy could make with that if they had the time, man.

Jason said...

Heh, would now be an acceptable time to admit that I enjoyed the NWN1 OC? :-p

I just started SoZ and I'm enjoying it. I was ready for a break from "epic storylines" myself. This is fun, but I do fear it may get old after a while.

I got a good laugh out of this line: "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." I have to agree.

JasonNH

dirtywick said...

Ha! I don't think it will ever be safe to say that ;)

Just kidding. Shadows of Undrentide is my favorite beside MotB and Soz. So, you know, top that haha

WitchWolf said...

Yeah, I fell down a rabbit hole lately. Finally clawing my way into the fourth year at the uni can do that to people. *grin*

Most important queation of all - Did SoZ mess up anything in SoT2? Because if it did, I'll just have to brave the module without 1.13 patch and hope for the best...

Overland maap can be fun, no doubt about it. Well, as long as it's sole purpose doesn't turn into a spawning ground for random encounters. or at least, if said random encounters are not always kill-loot-repeat ones. Fallout 2 made brilliant use of overland and randoms, for example - A sperm whale, Arthur's knights looking for a Holy Hand Grenade, The Bridge Keeper... ;)

Liso said...

Jason - I liked the OC too! hehe I don't care who knows.


DW - yes, SoT2 - was used in good context. I thought it was amusing that I was not the only one that brought it up ;)

Ravenholme CP42 said...

I like SoZ too, in fact, I think it's my favourite out of the NWN series. I also really enjoy the Mercantile system and the sense of reward I seem to get from it. (No Spoilers), but it's as good if not better than Crossroads Keep in the OC, which I also loved and have yet to see a module/campaign replicate.

Maybe with the advent of SoZ, the Overland Map and the Mercantile System, we'll see something more like this happen more often.

Regards,
Ravenholme

Ravenholme CP42 said...

Oh, I loved Mask of the Betrayer as well, and fairly enjoyed the NWN2 OC (And NWN + Exp packs).

Way I see it, the change in pace from an epic storyline with huge amounts of character interaction to the SoZ party-focused adventure is actually a good one. It's just that, a change in pace. Good old down-to-earth adventuring. Whilst I do love character interaction and a little wouldn't go amiss in SoZ, I can always rely on module makers to eventually bring that out in their modules.

So yes, overall, I really like SoZ

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ocean of game said...

They wasted a good chunk of time in this showing off retarded rainbow spell effects instead of anything substantial.