PC Software: Neverwinter nights

Hundreds of fun games are released every year, but only a few have the potential to change a genre or deliver something truly remarkable. Neverwinter Nights is one such game.

Developed by Bioware, the people who brought us the superb Baldur's Gate, it should come as no surprise that Neverwinter Nights offers a decent single player role-playing game, with a great interface, plenty of speech, solid 3D visuals and lots of Dungeons and Dragons inspired combat intrigue and adventure. There are lots of undead goblins, ogres and trolls to smite, and the narrative is full of plot twists.

There is so much more to Neverwinter Nights, however, than the single player game. For a start, you can go adventuring with a party of friends via the Internet. Although this is cool, the real twist comes with the Dungeon Master mode. In this mode, you and your party of adventuring mates are ‘managed' by another human player who controls the gameworld - acting as an unseen hand in a similar role to the dungeon masters in pen and paper role-playing games.

This might not sound like a big deal, but the injection of a dungeon master into the mix is a superb innovation. As you and your party of online friends adventure, all the while overseen by another person who is playing as the dungeon master, you will experience games that are much more dynamic, more fair, full of more variety - even funnier. This is because the dungeon master can personalise the adventure to make it more enjoyable.

By controlling the gameworld, the dungeon master can crack jokes, adjust the gameplay to make it easier or harder when necessary, and just keep everything ticking along by responding to the flow of play more intimately. Neverwinter Nights is the first game to successfully implement an overseeing dungeon master role.

The game also comes with an incredibly powerful editor that lets you create games you can then ‘run' for your friends online by taking the dungeon master role.

Neverwinter Nights is quite possibly the RPG of the year and you must check it out if you are a fan of the genre, or have recently enjoyed the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter films.

Developer: Bioware.

Publisher: Infogrames.

URL: www.bioware.com.

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