NetGuide NZ - Mask of the Betrayer – PC

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Mask of the Betrayer – PC

Mask of the Betrayer is the new epic expansion pack that picks up where NWN2 leaves off, extending the plot line literally right after the death of the King of Shadows in the explosive finale. You wake up in a foreign, mysterious place, far from the Sword Coast near the mystical lands of Rasheman, with only a Red Wizard of Thay waiting to tell you what the hell is happening. The friends and companions from your past are nowhere to be found, and you have a dark pain burning in your chest, speaking dark thoughts of murder into your mind. Clearly the excellence of plot that Obsidian established a reputation for continues in Mask of the Betrayer, and if anything it is even more intense than that of the original.

To allow continuity with the main character from NWN2, who would probably be level 20 or thereabouts, the expansion pack covers the level range from 20-30, and introduces a number of new feats and abilities symptomatic of epic characters at this level. If you create a new character for the Mask of the Betrayer campaign, it will be given enough experience to level up to an appropriate level, much like the system used in the expansion packs for the original Neverwinter Nights, although of course following this option forgoes all the extra advantages obtainable through the classic campaign. Once past level 20 in traditional D&D lore, characters start attaining the strengths of demi gods, and this is well presented in Mask of the Betrayer both in your characters power and the strength of your enemies. Indeed the game is not for the faint hearted, as without excellent items, usually necessitating crafting, and good group tactics many of the enemy encounters are near impossible.

Once installed Mask of the Betrayer also allows you to create new characters using a number of new classes, such as the Favoured Soul, who is a sort of sorcerer/cleric, or the Shaman like class which is a sorcerer/druid like hybrid. There are also a ton of new prestige classes, like the Invisible Blade or Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep, adding further ways to specialise your character. Finally a number of new races have been added, the most notable of which is the Genasi, elemental like humanoids, who each resemble the element they are descended from (fire Genasi have hair that looks like flame, for example). All the original races have had extra faces and hair styles added as well, much like the extra advantages provided in the original NWN expansion Hordes of the Underdark.

A few of the new game play features are interesting, if a bitquestionable. The game has been given anoptional camera style,
supposedly modelled after World of Warcraft’s. I tried it but found that the style was clunky and hard to use, restricting my visibility especially inside the frequent caves and dungeons of the game. Also the style of the interface and the new information it provides look rushed, and don’t have the simple professionalism of the original. Apart from the game features, I also would have liked in the campaign to have met more of my friends from NWN2, but as it was you can only recruit one into your companion group. Even with my hero-like character, some sections near the beginning of the campaign were really difficult, and I believe it may not be balanced appropriately across all classes.

In summary, Mask of the Betrayer is an excellent expansion pack for an excellent game, and does what all good expansion packs should do, which is to exceed the experience provided by the original. Although it is perhaps not as long as the original campaign, in terms of how earth shatteringly epic it is, Mask of the Betrayer is much more superior, with insightful twists and clever dialogue. The new character options are diverse and well designed, and the new character classes add a whole new dynamic to your characters. The game seems like it was released too soon in some respects, but this is not to a degree that it significantly distracts from the enjoyment of the campaign, so to all RPG fans and especially NWN2 enthusiasts I highly recommend Mask of the Betrayer.

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