Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

Put away your dungeon master's guide and 12-sided die for a moment. Since Atari's recent deal with Hasbro for the rights to the Dungeons & Dragons rule set, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer marks the beginning of another decade of truly old school and stat driven role-playing games when it hits shelves this holiday season.

Mask of the Betrayer is not a stand-alone expansion pack, and will require the original Neverwinter Nights 2. But with three new races, two new base classes, five new prestige classes, and more monsters, developer Obsidian Entertainment thinks - or is trying to think - of their new game as more of a spiritual sequel to the original. The story picks up where it left off, and you'll be able to continue through Mask of the Betrayer's new 20-30 hour campaign with your original characters.

While the game brings the wild elf and half-drow races to the table, we were most interested in the Genasi, elemental half-breeds who come in Captain Planet-ish flavors of earth, air, fire, and water. Noteworthy new classes include the Spirit Shaman, a dark druid-like caster with a taste for undead-related spells, and the Favored Soul, who sounds like cleric with more brains than brawn. Both the Spirit Shaman and Favored Soul can cast spells like a sorcerer and don't need to spend time memorizing spells.

The areas we saw in Mask of the Betrayer look much grimmer and grimier than the bright and colorful beginnings of Neverwinter Nights 2. But even though the expansion seems to be throwing more content at us than we know what to do with, there doesn't seem to be any reason for any non-Neverwinter Nights fans to get excited about.

Still, for fans of the series Mask of the Betrayer's improved toolset promises modders more creatures, tilesets, and content to bust out with a world of your own. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer is currently scheduled to release on December 10. In the meantime, give the Images tab above a poke for a peak at the latest screenshots showing what's in store.