Hands-on with Neverwinter Nights

We've finally gotten our hands on the final version of BioWare's highly anticipated role-playing game.

After all these years, it seems hard to believe that this highly anticipated game is finally done and in our hands. When the final version of Neverwinter Nights arrived at the GameSpot offices, we installed it immediately and got started on our most daunting challenge yet: finding some aspect of the game we haven't already talked about extensively.

Though we've briefly discussed the Neverwinter Nights editing tools before, we haven't really had the chance to play around with a final version of them until now. The editor uses a Windows-based interface that lets you create new areas by simply choosing the size and terrain type you'd like to use, then dragging and dropping appropriate terrain features (for instance, a forest might have a stream, pitched camps, and exceptionally large trees) into the map, as well as any and all monsters, items, and characters you'd like players to meet. Though the default map view is a miniature version of the map, it's actually an extremely zoomed-out view of it, as we've seen previously. You can use your mousewheel to zoom in on specific features and use tabs at the bottom of the map to scroll, pan, and rotate whichever characters or objects you drop in. Since the editor uses a Windows-like interface, you can usually right-click on most things for general information and to edit its properties. Monsters can be programmed to have different levels of hostility, to greet certain characters a certain way (for instance, an intolerant dwarf character might be unfriendly to elf characters), to steal from or exact tolls from players, or to simply attack. The editor has quite a few default character and monster models that you can drop into the game, including dragons, shapechangers, and interplanar creatures, as well as the more mundane, cowardly humanoids (such as goblins, ettercaps, and orcs) that are so common to the game's Forgotten Realms setting.

We also took a closer look at Neverwinter Nights' character generation process, which includes a handy "choose recommended option" button for every one of your character's attributes. Just like in BioWare's Baldur's Gate games, you can create a character of male or female gender and make a character that belongs to one of seven races (human, dwarf, elf, half-elf, orc, gnome, and half-orc). You then choose from a sizeable selection of portraits, most of which resemble the artwork of the Baldur's Gate games, then choose your character's class (including the returning 3rd Edition professions of sorcerer and barbarian). The "recommended option" button comes in especially handy for choosing your character's ability scores (strength, dexterity, wisdom, and so on) and your character's skills and heroic feats. Each basic character class offers prepackaged kits (which are nothing more than a prearranged set of skills) that you can choose to quickly and easily begin the game. You can also choose your character's voice from a list of characterized choices (such as "male, violent fighter" and "male, mature swashbuckler")--once you play the game, you'll find that your character and the characters and enemies you meet in the game use speech about as often as they did in the Baldur's Gate games.

But these are only particular details of a much larger game. You'll be able to get a full assessment of Neverwinter Nights from our full review, which is coming up soon. Until then, you can browse our Neverwinter Nights supersite.

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