The end of the great saga
First thing to say: this game is not
just an add-on. By no means can it be compared to Legends of the Sword Coast
. The former was merely an expansion of the first game, Baldur's Gate
, adding new areas and quests, but without progressing the story. "Throne of Bhaal" is, on the other hand, a separate small game, that adds two new chapters to Baldur's Gate II
, and finally brings the great story to its ultimate conclusion.
As a huge fan of Baldur's Gate saga, I simply couldn't relax until I finally got this game. And I must say the truth: I was rewarded beyond my expectations. Not only could I witness the end of the majestic story, but I found the gameplay even slightly more enjoyable than in either of the first two games. Here are some of the things I liked so much in this game: Of course, first of all - the story. It is as great as in any other Baldur's Gate game, and it finally answers all the unanswered questions left from the two previous parts of the saga. You gain more and more insight into your own soul, and have to face several decisions on your way, that will also influence the ending. There are three possible endings for the game, depending on your answers to the Solar that questions you throughout the game, and on the last decision you make just after defeating the final enemy. At that point, I could only choose between two answers instead of three, probably because of my previous answers to the Solar. In any case, the intriguing story ends here. You also get to know what happened to the party members you took with you to the final fight (so be sure to pick the ones you like the most, or the ones whose future really interests you). And at the very beginning of the game, you can recruit a most unusual party member - Sarevok! You'll have to solve several moral problems concerning Sarevok, and even help him to become a better person. You'll also learn plenty of background information concerning yourself, Sarevok, and other important characters.
I already complained about the lack of music in "Shadows of Amn". "Throne of Bhaal", however, has more music, and mixed nicely various melodies from the first and the second part.
There are lots of cutscenes, that make the game more movie-like than its predecessors.
A very cool feature is your Plane, where you can rest anytime, upgrade weapons and armor, and also summon all possible party members! That was really helpful, since in both first and second games the party members are scattered over the world, and it's not always easy to locate them. I finally could recruit powerful characters such as Edwin or Viconia, without doing any side-quests or looking around every corner. You can return to your Plane any time and experiment with your party in any way you like. Also, while at the Plane, you'll find Cespenar, a hilarious imp who can make your weapons and armor more powerful. You'll have to gather all kinds of rare items for him, but it's well worth the effort.
There are some minor gameplay improvements. You can erase spells, and then learn them again. This way, you can remove unwanted spells from your arsenal, and also learn spells two or more times, gaining experience points each time (you can erase a spell, then learn it again from a scroll). The TAB key highlights now your party's exact HP, all the stuff that lies on the floor, and all possible containers and doors on the map. When levelng up, all your characters gain various special abilities, depending on their class.
What I enjoyed the most in "Throne of Bhaal" is the fact your characters finally become incredibly powerful. In the first "Baldur's Gate" you are very weak, but so are your opponents. In "Shadows of Amn", you become much more powerful, but your enemies are generally even more powerful than you. The mages knew more spells than me, and some of the monsters were extremely tough, such as the dragons. In "Throne of Bhaal", nobody is more powerful than you, even if you don't level up much. The dragons are still the most powerful enemies (at least that's the way I felt), but I was able to kill three dragons without saving and restoring ten times before. As for the other battles, they were not so hard at a lower difficulty level, including the final battle. You find some really destructive weapons in "Throne of Bhaal", and get some very useful special abilities (like Power Strike for fighters). The mages transform those abilities into spells, and the result is that the mages become the most powerful class in this game. How about a casting a spell that does 20D10 damage to all enemies without harming your party members?
The BadIt is a bit too linear for a Baldur's Gate game. There are two small towns with only a few side-quests, and one huge optional dungeon (which is actually the add-on location you can access also when playing "Shadows of Amn", in case you have "Throne of Bhaal" installed). However, it didn't really disturb me, since I had enough opportunities to do side quests and enough complexity in "Shadows of Amn", and wanted impatiently to finish "Throne of Bhaal" as quickly as I could.
The Bottom Line"Throne of Bhaal" is the final chapter of the Baldur's Gate saga, the one that finally brings the long story to the end. Gameplay-wise, aside from several minor improvements, and the fact your characters become really powerful now (which makes the experience even more enjoyable), it is pretty much the same game as Shadows of Amn. It is a game of a highest quality, just like the two previous parts of the saga. If you like those games, there is no way you can ignore this one.