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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Interplay

 

Developer

Bioware

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2000

 

 

- Great Story

- Sophisticated Battles

- Engaging dialogue and characters

- Tons of optional quests

 

 

- Magic use can become overwhelming

- Occasional pathfinding difficulty

 

 

Review: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (PC)
Review: Icewind Dale II (PC)

Review: Planescape: Torment (PC)

 

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Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

It’s getting positively nutty just how much game time developers are squeezing into RPGs these days. Only five years ago we’d be staring in amazement when a title was touted as having over 40 hours of gameplay to it. Now we’re seeing games that have anywhere up to 4 or 5 times that much questing goodness packed, squeezed, and crammed into them. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (BG2) is no exception to this, providing a huge, epic quest, with scores of side quests too. Just like its predecessor BG2 has a deep, rich story and a ton of personality. All of the characters and NPCs have very distinct personalities, so that will really stick on you, others that may not be your cup of tea. BG2 provides more questing than you can shake a stick at and is well worth playing. Yet more proof that RPG fans are being spoiled rotten in 2000.

 

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BG2 takes place immediately after the events of the first game. Sarevok has been defeated and the hero and his party are victorious. Unfortunately the people of Baldur’s Gate aren’t too comfortable with a Son of Bhaal hanging around, so the hero and his companions leave, heading toward Amn. Along the way they get jumped and before they know it they’re in the laboratory of a powerful sorcerer by the name of Irenicus who is conducting experiments on your character in order to unlock his or her potential. Of course the game starts with you breaking out, then the main crux of the journey is to figure out just what the heck is going on. While doing this there will be plenty of people coming up to you offering noble quests or opportunities to be taken advantage of (depending on how you choose to manifest your alignment). The best part about these side quests is that some of them will leave having to make some tough decisions as to what should be done, leaving a possible alignment shift in its wake for example (all of the great treasure is nice too). It’s a very open-ended journey that lies ahead in this game to say the least.

 

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While on these journeys there will be plenty of combat. This is setup just like the last game, as players click on individual characters, drag select them, or just select them all and command them. Again play can be paused by hitting the spacebar for some thoughtful strategizing. While melee fighting is much the same as ever, telling your warriors which monsters to bonk on the head and leaving them to their job, magic use has gotten even more intense this time around. There are over 300 spells

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available in the game and that in and of itself takes a little time to get used to. Many of the enemy magic-users are surprisingly smart opponents, and it will often be up to your party’s magic-users to take them out, or at least soften them up for your warriors. Later in the game magic use in combat gets fast and furious, however there is the occasional slowdown as a result, but nothing horrible. Taking down the monsters is as fun as ever, but be prepared for a challenge because they are a wily lot.

But what about the characters? They played a huge role in making the original Baldur’s Gate come alive, and they do much the same this time around. Jahiera is back, as is Imoen, and, yes, Minsc and Boo are back too. Their little phrases from BG1 are intact in this installment and there has been a slew of additions to the library. Minsc has a ton of new, hilarious comments, but I’ll keep those to myself, so not to ruin the surprise.

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Of course like any good sequel, there are improvements to be made over the original, and BG2 is no exception to this. Pathfinding has been improved considerably over the original, with characters not getting lost very often at all. Classes have been subdivided even more. Unlike the first game where primarily the magic-users could be sub-divided, in BG2 even fighters can be highly specialized, one could have a basic, well rounded fighter, or go for a sorcerer hunter for example. There is also a wonderfully scaleable level of difficulty for the game, making battle more challenging, or easier, depending on the ability of the player. The game also supports 800x600 screen resolution, making everything even prettier on screen.

This is easily the best Dungeons & Dragons computer game on the market. Great quests, solid story, very good voice acting, challenging battles, and engaging dialogue and characters make this an RPG that stands head and shoulders above the competition.

- Mr. Nash

 

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