Shadows of Undrentide takes the Neverwinter Nights experience one step further, providing another excellent adventure for your character to go on and prove his fortitude.
One of the GREAT things about the Neverwinter Nights series is that there is more than one expansion set. "Shadows of Undrentide" is, more or less, considered the first one.
Each of these games are not short expansion packs that a gamer might expect -- they are each large games; a new game and adventure that stands alone from the original Neverwinter Nights. However, the original game is STILL needed to play the expansions, mainly because of the need of some of the programs from the original game.
After you go through Character Creation, (which is set up exactly like it was in the original game) your character appears in the small town of Hilltop. You are a student at a new school for adventurers, which is located in the town and run by a man known as Master Drogan, who has many years of experience in adventuring and exploring. This seasoned hero is more than qualified to be an instructor, and has set up his shop in Hilltop. When the game begins, the school is attacked by a group of Kobolds, and Master Drogan is poisoned during the battle. This starts your adventure and the series of quests that you will embark upon.
The handiest addition to the Neverwinter world, which this game introduces, is the 'Prestige Classes'. If you want to be one of these classes, then there are certain requirements that each must meet, and therefore you may not be able to begin playing as a 'Prestige Class' until later in the game.
There are also new skills and feats that have been added to this game. Some of the new skills include 'Appraise', which helps when bartering, and 'Craft Trap', which combines items to make deadly traps. Some of the new feats include 'Blind Fight', which allows you to fight when blinded or against invisible creatures, and 'extra music' which gives extra use of 'Bard Song'.
Of course, for those classes who that use magic, there have been a set of new spells added to this expansion. For example, the paladin class can now cast 'Aura of Glory', which grants them a bonus to their charisma.
There are new grenade-like weapons in this game, and can be put into the quick bar slots to be used at anytime. Not only can these items be thrown at enemies and cause severe damage, but they can also be used to create traps. Some of these weapons include 'Acid Flasks', 'Alchemist's Fire Flasks' and 'Tanglefoot Bags'.
"Shadows of Undrentide" still uses the 'Henchmen' concept for your companions. There is still only one permitted to join you during your adventure, but you can make them leave at anytime and choose others. There are three 'Henchmen' available to you in this game: 'clever rogue', 'strong fighter', and 'kobold bard'.
The ability to transport to a temple for resurrection or healing is incorporated into this game. This time around, the device that initiates this transportation is in the form of a crystal that is given to you by Master Drogan.
An RPG game would not be complete without tough monsters to battle, and 'Shadows' does not disappoint. These are the following creatures that you can expect to encounter during your adventure:
'Medusa' -- Legendary figure that can turn you to stone by her gaze.
'Basilisk' -- A huge reptilian monster that petrifies anyone it gazes at.
'Gorgon' -- Bull-like creatures that can gore you with their horns.
'Wyrmlings' -- Baby dragons
'Faerie Dragons' and 'Pseudo-dragons' -- Huge dragons with piercing tails.
'Sphinx' -- Large lions with wings
'Formians' -- Dimensional travelers that have bug-like features.
'Stingers' -- War-like scorpion-centaurs that have deadly scorpion stingers.
The graphics are still superb, with every detail from landscapes to cities, being beautifully rendered. The sound is great, with ambient sound effects making a forest come alive or a city seem alive with its busy citizens. There is an energetic soundtrack of background music. The voices of your companions and other NPC's are still part of the Neverwinter experience.
Gameplay is excellent, with everything still a mouse click away. Tools such as the journal, a map and 'Quest Log' are still available.
Replay value is excellent; this largely due to the 'Prestige Class' feature. This feature is VERY cool, and I would say most players would want to go back and play the game, just so to experience each 'Prestige Class' and how they differ.
I am not sure if you can really apply a Learning Curve rating to this game. The interface is so EASY to use, that most of the controls and other elements of the game can be figured out quickly. In addition, since the original game IS required to play "Shadows of Undrentide", then you probably have already played the original Neverwinter Nights campaign, you can apply the knowledge to this expansion game.
Since this is a Neverwinter expansion game, than there is also some new features to the toolset. There are three new tile sets: 'desert', 'ruins', and 'rural winter'. New wizards and other features are now included in the toolset, such as 'Plot Wizard' and 'Waypoint Walking'.
You cannot go wrong with the Neverwinter Nights series, and that applies to "Shadows of Undrentide" as well. This is a superb game that will have you traveling to different cities, deserts, and floating ruins.
I would HIGHLY recommend this game, for it will be an RPG experience that you are sure to not forget.