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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Bioware

 

Developer

Interplay

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2001

 

 

- Solid story

- Very good music

- Lots of goodies and abilities

- Good voice acting

- Huge battles

 

 

- Aging graphics

- Aging engine

 

 

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Review: Planescape: Torment (PC)

Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (PC)

 

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Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (Expansion Pack)

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

So, after treating PC gamers to arguably some of the best role-playing of their lives (at least that didn't involve a French Maid's uniform) the Baldur's Gate series draws to a close with the expansion pack to Baldur's Gate II.  Throne of Bhaal does exactly as it should in fulfilling its expansion pack duties admirably as it throws countless new magic goodies, new abilities, and a gargantuan leap in the experience points cap...oh, it brings the whole over-arching plot of the last three years to a close too.  It's a splendid tip of the hat as the series bows out.

 

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First off we might as well get the complaints out of the way.  Love it or hate it, or begrudgingly accept it, the Infinity Engine comes part and parcel with the Baldur's Gate series. The often questionable, more often frustrating, pathfinding is still around, as is the need to pause often when firing off spells and what not.  These along with the other idiosyncrasies of the engine are here in all their damnable glory still.  However, if you've tolerated them this long I'm sure you can survive one last go 'round with it.

 

Throne of Bhaal takes place a short time after the conflict with our friend Jon Irenicus.  You find out that you're not the only Child of Bhaal on the block, and that it turns out there are a whole bunch of them and a number of those have gone to war against one another so to gather all of the power for themselves so that they may harness it and achieve the strength of their father.  Of course you go down with your party to investigate for yourselves just what's going on and you soon find yourself swept into these events.  Guess you have to be in it to win it if you want to be the new god of murder...

 

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The new goodies and abilities are a big part in enhancing the whole experience.  There are a number of great new weapons, armor and such to be had in your journeys, but it's the high-level abilities that'll have you really oooing and ahhing.  Whether it's deathblows or cataclysmic spells these new abilities pack a huge wallop.  However it should be noted that a number of the enemies 

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in this game are insanely strong so of course they'll be able to take a real beating too.  Nonetheless these new abilities that you can get do a good job of filling the ol' super attack quotient.

 

The aesthetics of the expansion pack got a lopsided face lift.  On the one hand the visuals haven't changed a bit.  While some may whine and complain that the engine is getting old, any changes now would ruin the continuity of the game.  The one problem that came up with the game's graphics is that there is periodic slowdown.  When getting into gigantic battles where you face off against a few dozen enemies at once things can get choppy on an older computer, but it's multiple flashy spell effects that really do in the frame rate.  Consider yourselves warned.  The music is amazing here too as there are all new orchestrated tracks to soak in and they are of an absolutely incredible caliber.  There are even some spiffy new lines for the old characters as well as a bunch of new voice acting, all very good.

 

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It's also important to note that there are a number of additions now to the original Baldur's Gate II.  New items, some aesthetic tweaking (why Waukeen's Promenade echoes like a public bathroom is beyond me), and most importantly the addition of Watcher's Keep, a massive tower with all manner of interesting and powerful monsters to destroy and rewards to reap.  A very worthwhile romp.  A very interesting addition is the Wild Mage who is a magic user with unpredictable abilities.  Instead of learning to cast spells for years until reaching a level of master they summon pure magic and try and mold it into a spell.  Sometimes it works, but sometimes it can go terribly wrong.  A fun diversion, this character class, in the very least.

 

Throne of Bhaal does a very good job of drawing the Baldur's Gate series to a close.  The story is tight, the gameplay and flow of the game is familiar, but still an improvement over past offerings, and there is more goodies than you can shake a stick at this time too.  Good, good stuff.

 

MUST OWN BALDUR'S GATE II: Shadow's of Amn IN ORDER TO PLAY THRONE OF BHAAL EXPANSION PACK.

 

- Mr. Nash

 

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