Some view Casavir as a cool, somewhat suave Knight in Sour Armour who makes for a touchingLove Interest. Others see him as dull and rather bland, and many, many women wish his romance had not received priority over that of Bishop.
Sand. Proponents say he is a very useful wizard with a knack for crafting magic items and an endless stream of witty one-liners. Detractors complain about his fragility, his What an Idiot! decision to betray you if you have more influence with Qara than him and that his constant arrogance is at least as annoying as that of Qara, if not moreso.
For some reason, the silver shards that once comprised the blade of the Sword of Gith were translated into "silver crumbs". Yes, the same kind of "crumbs" as in "breadcrumbs". It's as silly as it sounds.
There's also a case later in the game where a Githyanki who both sounds and looks male addresses himself with female pronouns. Keep in mind, this game received an official Polish dub, meaning that the people behind the dub had the actor use those female pronouns while speaking in a distinctly male voice, and at no point did anyone decide to question this. How that kind of mistake happens is a mystery for the ages.
Canon Fodder: The Knight-Captain's parentage. We know some details about KC's mother Esmerelle, that she was an ex-adventurer and that Daeghun Farlong was one of her companions, but the KC's father never comes up.
Catharsis Factor: After all his transgressions, after all his smug, self-satisfied taunting, the player finally gets to kill Black Garius off for real — and boy howdy is it satisfying.
Complete Monster: Black Garius, the self-proclaimed "Master of the Fifth Tower", is the supposed leader of the Cult of Shadow, a group of necromancers that plunders grave sites and old battle sites for corpses to their army and tries to free the King of Shadows. In reality, he wants to exploit the King for power; treats his subordinates as expendable pawns; and was ready to wipe out the remaining cultists as soon as he was done with the ritual to bind the King. However, the ritual is botched and he dies, only to be revived as a Shadow Reaver, a slave to the King. He's perfectly fine with his state, as he has more magical powers than he had in life. His greatest atrocity in the game was ordering the massacre of a peaceful village in order to frame the Player Character, who had thwarted his efforts. If you prove yourself innocent in the court, he shows no regret over the people that died, but is enraged over his minions for failing him and kills Lorne on the spot if you didn't do it yourself.
Draco in Leather Pants: Bishop, Bishop, Bishop. Doesn't matter that the guy is basically evil to the core and a bit of a jerk besides; he's Mr. Fanservice through and through and that's what people remember him for.
Slaan, the Dual Wielding lizardfolk barbarian who briefly joins for Highcliff - partly for being the only recruitable barbarian, and partly for making a better first impression than most of the actual main party members, to the point where more than a few wish he'd been a main character.
Pretty much nobody in the fandom will admit to hating Kistrel. It's a giant spider! And it's friendly!
Shandra's only in the party for one chapter and is more or less a bonus character in terms of her party role, but she makes a great impression from start to finish and is generally regarded as the most interesting of the bunch. It helps that she's pretty much the only character with actual common sense and frequently comments how absurd everything that happens to you is.
Male Knight Captain/Neeshka. Neeshka was an option but cut due to time; even so, the leftovers have several flirtatious lines that, to some people, flow better than the sudden confessions of stalking and Jailbait Wait from the actual love interest. This hit such a level that one of the developers tried to defend the game's Official Couple, claiming that Neeshka was never intended to be anyone's love interest, and that the devs didn't understand nor appreciate the fans' fervor along such lines. No one believed a word of it.
The male PC and Shandra Jerro, which seemed to be shaping up to be an Official Couplebefore Shandra's horrible death.
Resting. It takes about five seconds, has no cost, fills up all your health, restores your spells, and can even help you recover from diseases or poisons. This has the side effect of making classes who balance weaker attacks with not being limited in how many they can use (Warlocks especially) pretty much useless while greatly enhancing the Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards divide. Only a handful of areas don't allow you to rest, and they're considered some of the hardest in the game for it. It was heavily nerfed in both expansions.
Speaking of, cleric Knight-Captain. A wizard or sorcerer has the Early Game Hell to worry about, but a cleric has reasonable HP and armor, melee skills, and access to healing magic to get them through it. Roundabouts the midgame, you have Harm to inflict HP to 1 on most enemies, Divine Power and Righteous Might to out-damage the fighters, and Turn Undead in a game where it feels like 80% of endgame opponents are affected by it, with Diplomacy to handle anything social. And to cap it off, the only cleric companion shows up pretty late and isn't too well-built. Favored souls (added in Mask) are if anything even worse: being the sorcerer to the cleric's wizard, they get fewer available spells and slightly fewer spells per rest, but can cast them without needing to prepare spells, and get proficiency with their patron deity's favored weapon for free. For this reason Soraevora Aeravand, the favored soul cohort in Storm, is bar none the most destructive cohort available.
The game provides the ability to export a character who's already been created, meaning you can create a character, advance them to the mid-game, export that character, and restart with a now severely overleveled one.Mask of the Betrayer makes this even easier, as it comes with sample characters that are 18th level.
In the original campaign, crafting. It's only balanced by how spread out the recipe books are and how clunky the mechanic is. You can easily have your active party kitted out with endgame gear better than anything in the game by the end of Act 2.
Iron Woobie: When asked about her past, Neeshka rattles off an incredibly depressing backstory. She doesn't care, though — she's just happy that someone's taking an interest.
Evil PCs are offered a chance to cross it at the end, slaughtering all your former party members before taking Garius' place at the head of the King of Shadows' army.
Ammon Jerro freely admits he's crossed it, and doesn't look back unless the player has high influence with him. He doesn't try to justify the morality of it, simply saying that he tried more polite options first to no gain, and that he'll accept the fate he's earned.
Black Garius ordering the massacre of Ember to the last man, woman, child and even pet, except for one witness, solely for the purpose of framing the Player Character in the hopes of getting rid of him/her, and showing no regret for it.
Half of the voiced villains and baddies are trying way too hard to sound evil.
The final voice over of the epilogue is cringe-worthy terrible, which makes you wonder why didn't the developers remove it entirely. Fortunately, the voice over of the expansions are far better, as they are voice by Kelemvor and Volo's voice actors.
Elanee, for the creepiness of her romance plot, her stick-in-the-mud attitude, and being an elf eager to serve up the obligatory Green Aesop. In perhaps a concession to this, she's the only party member to be killable before the final area.
Qara, depending on the player's familiarity with Dungeons & Dragons on the whole. For Tabletop fans, it's because Sorcerers of the 3.5 generation are notoriously weaker on the whole when compared to Wizards in the meta-game. Additionally, Qara and her AI tend to favor overlapping raw damage spells to the exclusion of any other utility... which is a notoriously bad strategy in the Tabletop meta-game. As a result, Qara can come across as the mage equivalent of Leeroy Jenkins, with only herself (and Sand) not being in on the joke.
Crafting in the OC. You need to fulfill several requirements to craft or enchant items. It's very difficult and frustrating to keep track of the needed components and spells levels as you need to navigate several windows (inventory, recipe books, spellbooks, character sheet, etc) and there's no check list.
Whenever you enter conversation mode, the game isn't paused which means there's a good chance your buffs will expire. Pretty annoying if you're dealing with lots of dialogues and combat will occur after talking is done.
Whenever you move something in or out of a bag, the list of items will reset all the way back to the top of the list. Why on Earth?! And why do items of the same type don't stack inside a bag?! ARGH!!
The AI is much, much smarter. It's still overall bad, but you have limited control over some of its decision making process, it doesn't randomly stop moving or randomly run off to the other side of the map, and, if all else fails, you can manually take control of everyone in your party.
Many of the spell lists and classes were closer to their pen and paper counterparts than in the first game, removing some rather arbitrary restrictions. Druids probably benefited most since they didn't even get access to most of their spells, only counting the ones included in the game in NWN.
Larger party size meant that you could have a dedicated Skill Monkey, arcane caster and divine caster in the group. This results in a colossal increase in effectiveness of all party members well beyond numbers alone.
Better leveling curve. In NWN, early leveling was fairly slow, but in NWN you leveled fairly quickly initially and then it petered off. This is important since a lot of builds are not very effective until level 10 (give or take a couple levels). This meant in NWN, you spent a large amount of game time with characters with under-developed class abilities (especially hybrids) in comparison to NWN2 where you got past those rocky levels fairly quickly. Some of this is the result of the sequel being based on 3.5 D&D rules where the first game was based on 3.0 . The pen and paper game was rebalanced to address similar issues.
Related to the above, this game lets you burn through the first two levels entirely in the tutorial, starting the game proper at level three. This means you won't die the first time any enemy lands a solid hit as you did in the start of the first game.
When moving in the battlefield, animation will sometime not trigger properly. Characters and monsters will glide like chess pieces rather than walking.
When making 360 degrees turns, monsters and characters will sometime awkwardly go in their "walking forward animation" and spin around.
Parries, cleaves and attack of opportunities do not have any animation. A colored line will show-up and a floating text will display what the character just did. A fan-made script can partially fix this.
When a character is knocked down, he will fly up unrealistically in the air before falling down.
The description of the Mirror Image spell says it conjure illusory images of yourself. However, in the game, it's a bunch of spheres that spin around you real fast.
Strangled by the Red String: Casavir, if the PC is female, will always try to start a romance, regardless of how close the two of you are or what your personality is. It's at least possible to turn him down, but the surrealness of him trying to propose to, say, a Chaotic Evilblackguard of a completely different species who's openly ignored everything he suggests is more than enough to put him here.
The final area can be this to some, since it's filled with a large number of powerful undead and golems, and also adds a high chance of being attacked while resting, unlike with any other dungeon in the game. It's also filled with traps, which can make things difficult since it's the point where the party is unlikely to have a rogue unless the player character is one.
The Orc Caves. They're full of hidden traps, seem to go on forever and mostly contain hordes of similar groups of orcs that can can quickly overwhelm you, with some groups spawning at trigger points, meaning you could be dealing with more than one group if you're not mindful of where you step. The fact that Casavir muscles his way into the party at this juncture really doesn't help matters, nor does the fact that it has almost nothing at all to do with the overall story.
Worse than needing to worry about the spawn points is that they're extremely poorly designed. Generally they're placed at the entrances of rooms. Some rooms have 3 or 4 entrances. Each of those spawn points that put monsters in the room work independently of each other, so you might enter a room, fight some orcs, then proceed through... only to find a brand new group of orcs immediately spawn behind your group as you leave out a different door, right next to all your casters.
The entirety of Moire's quest in the Docks, if you choose to side with her instead of the City Watch. You have to swim through hordes of rival thugs (that love to Back Stab you) to get to the guardposts of the city guard and try to get them on your side. And fight them if you fail. After that, and a brief filler mission, you have to escort a wagon through a long street chock full of rival thugs (So much for Moire ruling over the docks) and heavily armored city guards, which will eagerly team up on you. After a forced ambush by the thugs (So Much for Stealth), you arrive on the warehouse only to find the City Guard waiting for you inside, complete with clerics that love to curse and lower your stats for the remainder of the scenario, as this last area has no exit.
It's only a tiny sidequest, but the musical duel with Cain. You have to try to assemble a bit of music by recreating it note by note through the the dialogue system, from memory, for four tunes. Having actual perform ranks won't help you. There's lots of fun companion interactions and skill checks, and a funny third option, but the core challenge is basically impossable without cheating.
That One Puzzle: There's a mission in the game where you are trying to get a number of different spirits to a central location. The spirits tell you that certain wards prevent them from moving forward. The player has the ability to turn off (and on) certain wards. Simple, right? Well, actually the puzzle isn't too hard but the solution doesn't match the exposition given. Rather than simply opening up the wards in front of the spirits, you have to close the wards in all other possible directions except the one you want. So, rather than opening up the passage for the spirits, the puzzle is more about forcing the spirits down certain paths by closing off any alternatives to them, as they will never go down the desired path unless it's the only option.
Qara's conflict with Jochris drops off and is never mentioned again. In the Orc Caves she can discover the bodies of her fellow students, even some she almost liked, being raised as experimental zombie mages and vow to fight and destroy the one who did that to them, but somehow that ends up as a Bizarro Episode in an otherwise unflattering career. She remains the same Static Character she starts out as and doesn't even get a decent personal questline to make up for it. Maybe people wouldn't hate her so much if they had found a way to give her more closure or character growth?
Quite a bit of content for her was cut. This also created the bizarre result in the endgame where if she stays loyal to you Sand will inexplicably change sides because he thinks she's more dangerous than the King of Shadows.
Speaking of the orcs, their involvement in the plot is pointless and generic. They and Casavir are reduced to a cliched Lawful Good vs. Chaotic Evil conflict where the orcs are waging war over land, resources or just for the hell of it (no one really knows why) and Casavir is trying to stop them because of his Chronic Hero Syndrome. Even the "Katalmach" label of "one who loses himself in battle" is misplaced — it turns out, Casavir only got involved out of compassion and generic good-guy-ness, and even has it in his heart to feel pity for the orcs. And when it's over, the whole thing is referenced again only once — during the player's trial in Act II as an example of their good character. The whole affair reeks of padding and undeveloped opportunities.
One notable LP pointed out that the game has many interesting stories running through it: The Watch/Thieves conflict, the politics between Neverwinter and Luskan, the Githyanki hunting the protagonist, the Jerro family, etc. But they all ultimately tie back to the King of Shadows and Black Garius plot, which is easily the most cliched and uninteresting. The biggest one is likely the Crossroad Keep arc, a deep and intricate minigame with a lot of interesting things to do, from training up soldiers to rebuilding defenses... but its only impact is making the Garius siege missions easier, and adding a line in the ending about how Crossroad Keep is doing well.
Too Cool to Live:Shandra stands out among a party otherwise exclusively made up of very unoriginal characters as a Deadpan Snarker (not unlike Jolee Bindo for that matter) and master of Who Writes This Crap?! and dies. The setting allows resurrection easily and unlike the other time an ally dies, you are easily of sufficient level and wealth to bring her back. However, it's possibly justified by the setting requirements for resurrection. In 3.5 D&D, nobody can be raised from the dead against their will, and Shandra was only ever a reluctant participant in the storyline. There's also a possibility someone was preventing her from coming back — Shandra's final acts did, after all, involve at least one bargain with a devil.
What an Idiot!: Turning against the player because you think Qara is a bigger threat to the world than the army of shadow-infused undead currently in the process of destroying it? Not your brightest moment, Sand.
Ammon Jerro tells you Grobnar attempted to save a 12 foot Blade Golem by blocking a pillar with his frail gnome body at the end of the OC.
If Qara was on your side in the final battle of the original game, she gets her head crushed in by a rock. Sand lives by transforming himself into an Iron Golem.
Angst? What Angst?: The player doesn't get a lot of chances to be overly concerned about Elanee or Casavir, if you romanced them, who are now presumed dead. In fact, all things considered they can move on with Safiya or Gann astonishingly quickly.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Regardless of alignment, Suppression playthroughs are a lot more common than Devour playthroughs, as Suppressing is a lot easier to pace, regardless of alignment (just summon a few elementals and cast it once per day), while Devour can practically hit Speed Run territory at times. Also, bar Spirit Gorge, most of the benefits to Devouring are not that useful. This in itself makes One-of-Many, the Devour-focused companion, rather uncommon.
Ensemble Dark Horse: If one looks up fanart of the game, about 60% of it is Okku, and 30% is Gann. People just really love Old Father Bear, it seems, despite the fact that he's one of the companions you can easily end up not recruiting at all.
Even Better Sequel: The original campaign is a fun romp through the Sword Coast, but it's relatively linear and generally ran on clichés (intentional or not). Mask of the Betrayer on the other hand, had a smaller band of more developed characters, a much better overarching story, and such complicated literary devices as symbolism and foreshadowing.
Mask of the Betrayer is fairly notable for its ability to make the player do some absolutely terrible things, well beyond the previous game's "ask people for more money when rescuing them." Leading several innocent people, including Anya, to a gruesome death at the hands of spirit eater-worshipping uthraki, is just one of them.
Alternately, forcing the Spirit-Eater Curse to devour the Red Woman, effectively rendering Akachi's sacrifice completely moot. Even the curse itself doesn't want to do it.
And of course, there's the "Devour" ending, wherein you eat Akachi to become a full-fledged Eldritch Abomination so horrible, your mere existence is declared by Kelemvor to irreversibly cross the line.
Myrkul was evil long before creating the Wall of the Faithless and the Sprit Eater Curse, but those two acts were enough to take him from "acceptable levels of evil" to "completely, utterly, irredeemably evil".
One-Scene Wonder: Myrkul can only be spoken to in one scene, plus an optional Bonus Boss encounter. It's one of the most famous scenes in the game.
Player Punch: More like Player Punch in Hindsight, but Myrkul's back in 5E. Sorry.
Take That, Scrappy!: Weirdly, all the possibly surviving companions seemed to be the generally well-liked ones (Khelgar, Ammon, Sand, Neeshka), and most of the definitely-dead ones were the least-liked (Grobnar, Elanee, Qara, Casavir).
That One Level: Though nowhere near as disliked as the original game's worst levels, there are a few standouts.
Immil Vale goes on just a bit too long, and mostly stands out for lacking in plot-relevance compared to its contemporaries. It also has the usual Green Aesop undertones, and most of the "evil" options are a bit too For the Evulz.
The Skein is the other extreme - it's emotionally involving and very important to the plot, with some genuinely twisted options, but solving it involves a rather annoying water puzzle and exploring a complicated labyrinth full of enemies. It's also very easy to end up taking the wrong quest and accidentally skipping most of its content. And Gul'kash spends the whole time screaming in the background.
Storm of Zehir
Awesome Music: Storm of Zehir has some excellent music. The brass in the main menu theme is particularly good.
Crazy Awesome: Ribsmasher is back, and continues to practice his ribsmashing-focused fighting style.
Fanon Discontinuity: A mild case, but people who spared Okku, romanced a companion, or got the Bind/Devour endings choose to disregard the presence of One-of-Many and Khelgar's claim that the Knight-Captain returned to Crossroad Keep.
Sequelitis: Rarely to the point of Fanon Discontinuity (bar the abovementioned plot points), but very, very few people would consider it a worthy followup to Mask, or even the original, mainly by virtue of completely changing focus from a tightly-wound story-driven adventure to a barely-plotted retro dungeon-crawler. In fairness, there wouldn't really have been anywhere for the Knight-Captain's story to go, but even then, it gets brought up far less frequently than either of its predecessors. It's not considered bad, for what it is, though.
So Okay, It's Average: The overall fan consensus of the expansion if you go looking for reviews and opinions in forums. While the idea was great, many felt that the story and exploration were dull and uninspired, and the engine was clearly not made with this kind of retro CRPG-style game in mind due to Loads and Loads of Loading.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The setup of being stranded in Samarach; a very xenophobic and corrupt country, and trying to climb in the social and political ladder is very strong and could have been the main hook of the expansion. However, almost immediately the Yuan-Ti conspiracy takes over the story and you are forced to leave Samarach in disgrace to go to the familiar Sword Coast where the plot is reduced to just doing favors for info and following leads to the Cult of Zehir.
Mysteries of Westgate
Good Bad Bugs: Just before entering Orbakh's Inner Sanctum, you can just leave the winery and go to the Undergate and receive XP everytime you enter it.