Video Card: All In Wonder 9700 Pro Review :: Neverwinter Nights

01-03-2003 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

Bioware has the Dungeons and Dragons license for computer games. D+D is a pencil and paper role-playing game that was released in 1972. Designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, this series has evolved into today's 3rd edition ruleset. If you need more information on D+D or AD+D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) , Gamespot has a brief history here. It's not really my purview to discuss the history in a videocard review , beyond the basics.

Over the last few years, Bioware and Interplay have released numerous games based upon the D+D ruleset. The games include: Baldur's Gate, BG Tales of the Sword Coast, Icewind Dale, the ID expansion Baldur's Gate II,the BGII expansion Icewind Dale II and now NeverWinter Nights. Bioware originally created the Infinity engine for Baldur's Gate, which they've modified and updated for their subsequent games.

NeverWinter Nights is a modular ,open-ended game that players can change to see fit. The Adventure Construction set allows the player to take the role of the Dungeon Master and create their own dungeons, towns outdoor areas and populate it with creatures, non-player characters and objects. It's beyond my purview to give a more detailed look into module construction here, as this is a videocard review and not a game review.

The single player game has you take the role of an adventurer through the city of NeverWinter. Facing numerous enemies, creatures of legend and non-player characters, Neverwinter Nights plays much like a pen and paper module of D+D. The graphics are , for the most part , not very detailed, but they get the job done. The game supports pixel shaded water, but only , until recently on Nvidia video cards.

Playing Neverwinter Nights on the Radeon 9700 has been, until recently a interesting experience. The game, while perfectly playable at the maximum resoluton and settings , even with FSAA and anisotropic filtering was missing something. Until the recently released patch, NeverWinter Nights played without pixel shading enabled. A few days ago, the pixel shaded water was enabled, and players with Radeon 8500/9700 class cards can enjoy the game as it was meant to be played.

The shiny water setting is not nearly as beautiful as the pixel shaded water in Morrowind. The scale of the game (using a semi top-down perspective) instead of a first person perspective and the size of the characters, town monsters etc, make the water less of a visual impact as in Morrowind. However, the water still looks nice, but it doesn't really detract much from the game as pixel shaded water did in Morrowind.

System requirements for NeverWinter Nights are:Pentium II 300MHz or AMD K6-2 350MHz, Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 96MB of RAM, DirectX 8.1, 16MB TNT2-class OpenGL video card, DirectX certified soundcard.