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Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

aka: BG2, Baldur's Gate II: Cienie Amn, Baldur's Gate II: Schatten von Amn, Bode zhi Men 2: Anmu de Yinying
Moby ID: 2465

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 93% (based on 74 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 284 ratings with 9 reviews)

Cover your nose, Boo! We'll leave no crevices untouched!

The Good
I loved the first Baldur's Gate. It was a beautifully crafted game that pulled AD&D out of stagnation and helped revitalize the entire RPG genre. It was one of those rare games that become classics the moment they are released. Baldur's Gate II is, technically speaking, a very similar game, using the same engine, battle system, and continuing the same story - but it also greatly improves upon many of the predecessor's features.

Baldur's Gate II is a perfect example of how to make a sequel to a great game. Basically, it takes its well-working formula and refines it, expanding possibilities and ironing out rough edges. Undeniably, the single most impressive aspect of the game - and one that instantly propelled its creators to stardom - is the way it manages to combine freedom of decision and exploration with high-quality scripted material. In a way, it is to the first game what Serpent Isle was to Black Gate - but it feels even more independent, more confident in the path it has chosen.

Baldur's Gate II brilliantly turns familiar filler material into meaningful content: it takes purely gameplay-related concepts and weaves them into the narrative, thus making the game world more credible and greatly enhancing our immersion in it. It is the zenith of BioWare's quest design. Instead of "I forgot my purse on the table, can you bring it to me?" type of missions, there is a stunning variety of interesting and exciting tasks. You'll solve personal dramas, plunge into political conspiracies, side with religious orders, make tough choices in questionable moral disputes, manage a castle, investigate crimes, and much more. You'll get attached to certain characters and hate others. Everything in this game is hand-crafted, and while it cannot compete with the likes of Elder Scrolls in quantity, it more than makes up for it in quality.

That is not to say that Baldur's Gate II is too small or too linear. Quite on the contrary: it offers a large, generously designed world with a great variety of locations. Much of the content here is purely optional - you can choose yourself which quests to tackle and which not. A good example is the first major task in the game - collecting a certain sum of money. While the goal itself is clearly set, the game doesn't in the least tell you how to achieve it. It gives you a few hints and then, after a bit of investigation, you are faced with several highly divergent options for completing the task. All of those have their ups and downs, but none is dull and you'll want to explore them all. Or, you can just try to steal the money somewhere or gain it by selling loot - but that's anything but easy, since the sum is large. Though a few sections in the middle of the game are fairly straightforward, you'll be given this kind of freedom most of the time.

Baldur's Gate II is colorful, with exotic locations hidden underneath the European medieval world. You'll travel to enchanted forests, catacombs of the undead, celestial abode of the elves, mysterious drow dwellings, and picturesque city of a strange sentient reptile race. What's great about those areas is not just their aesthetic appeal, but their design: they are tight and busy, teeming with places of interest, items, people, and activities. There is something to discover in every corner. There are quests waiting for you when you least expect it.

Already in the first game you could recruit interesting companions who would travel with you. The sequel improves and builds upon this feature, presenting more characters who could join the party and fleshing out their personalities quite a bit more. Companions would comment on your actions, talk to each other, and develop feelings for you depending on how you treat them. My protagonist was in a pretty good position trying to capture the heart of a charming innocent elf, but at a certain point he couldn't refuse a tempting offer from a certain female drow, and the elf couldn't forgive him this infidelity. This kind of detail enriches the game even more. Well-written, witty conversations are a pleasure to read or (when the occasional voice acting kicks in) listen to.

On top of that, there is so much traditional RPG goodness that you'll have fun even without all those other possibilities. Since everybody are at higher levels now, you start actually feeling some power behind your party, especially the mages. Combat is more satisfying than ever, with the excellent real-time-with-pause system carried over with more options, classes, races, weapons, proficiencies, spells, and what not. You'll destroy huge iron golems and slay dragons, outsmart sly spell-casting beholders and mind flayers with psychic powers. And when you've had enough of combat, you can always return to being a greedy owner of an estate and repress the population with high taxes to get more money, or engage on a chivalrous quest of saving your beloved one from turning into a vampire.

The Bad
There is less than a handful of minor issues, such as the absence of music in most locations - I wish the magnificent track that plays during character creation would be actually heard in-game. A few humorous elements and anachronisms ruining the strict medieval atmosphere may not be everyone's cup of tea. The overarching story is not particularly dynamic and somewhat lacks the initial emotional attachment we had in the first game.

My only real complaint is the lack of a continuous world. Much of the action takes place in a large city divided into several districts, but you can't simply exit it and walk in all directions. Once quests start piling up, locations will appear on your map; there are quite a few, and many of them are optional. But I really missed the traveling aspect of the first Baldur's Gate. I liked just going somewhere way before I was supposed to be there, wandering through the wilderness in search of loot and outposts of civilization. I've never had any sympathy to the kind of disjointed and immersion-breaking map design the sequel uses, and I think it's a pity the first game's more seamless exploration was not carried over.

The Bottom Line
Baldur's Gate II is a gem of an RPG. It is BioWare at the top of their game - full of creative power channeled into the most important design components, inventive and magnanimous at once. There is so much to do here, and all of it feels right - fighting, questing, romancing, and living an exciting adventure in a brilliantly crafted virtual world.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180476) · 2014

Splendid game! But not as good, as BG1.

The Good
When I first installed Baldur's Gate II, it's difficult to explain how excited I was. By this time, I considered BG1 to be the most interesting computer game of all time, and I guess I could enumerate few more people who said the same. Obviously, sequel of any kind was highly desired. And again, Interplay/BioWare has not let me down.

First, the massive number of quests. Player rarely finds himself wandering with no apparent reason. There are no "empty" locations in this game. On every map we can find some interesting NPCs, some unique items and, of course, quests.

New monsters. BG2 offers you beasts we desire to slay - dragons of various kinds. Although very difficult to kill, battle with them is really a great fun. But there are other interesting monsters one of which is an exceptionally strong lich Kangaxx. The battles are also balanced. Players starts with characters on 7-9lv (highest experience level available in first part of game) and approaches far more difficult monsters than those in BG1.

Graphics is another magnificent element of Baldur's Gate II. Although the game still uses Infinity engine, the quality of locations, characters and spells has increased. We can also use higher resolutions, unofficially to 1600x1200.

The Bad
There are few, serious flaws, which make the game worse, then BG1.

First one is the overwhelming number of sidequests. Sure, it is the essence of the game no to roam freely in pointless locations, but to solve mysteries, rescue princesses, kill dragons etc. But at some point we are thrown into situation, when we enter a new location to complete one quest and before we meet the NPC we want to talk to, we encounter three other characters, each one asks us for a favour. Then, we are suddenly given few other new quests when we try to complete one of those three new. At some point, player gets really confused.

"Empty" locations is another problem. We all remember those woods, mountains, fields etc. which filled the map between Candlekeep and Friendly Arm Inn or between Beregost and Nashkel. There was nothing interesting in there - just some pointless dialogues or pseudo-quests like saving a dog. But it was this pointlessness that made these woods interesting. Player never knew what lures there - it could be a pack of wolves or perhaps a really interesting quest. And if we were in a hurry, we could just rush to the opposite side of the screen and ignore everything else. Perhaps it was a waste of time, but at least we had a choice. In BG2 every location has its purpose. I really could use some "fresh air" and listen to the wind while traveling through bushes and woods. Too bad I can't find it here.

Another disadvantage - experience level. In BG1 we start our adventure with dagger and 10 gold coins. Band of 10 kobolds is a lethal threat to our party. Later, we become stronger, but our strength is reasonable. In BG2 we fight dragons and demi-liches. In Throne of Baal we battle demons and it is Elminster himself that wants to get out of our way. Isn't it a bit too much? Doesn't player become epic? I guess that's too much just for a game.

The Bottom Line
You want a very good RPG game? You like D&D? You want to see some nice story, not just massacre on the screen? Go get yourself this game!

Just keep in mind that nothing is perfect and so is BG2, especially if you are familiar with its prequel.

Windows · by Ajan (262) · 2008

A milestone, if not the pinnacle, of CRPGs.

The Good
Here's a game with a tough act to follow: Baldur's Gate 1 was a super-mega-hit, made D&D cool again and became one of the biggest names in the rpg revolution so... How can you make a good sequel to that? The answer is twofold.

For starters the designers took the effective but not that revolutionary "brute force" approach to making a sequel which means they just jammed down your throat 10 times as much features. The new gameworld (moved south of Baldur's Gate around the city of Amn) is 4534536 times bigger with much more varied locations including underwater cities, elven citadels, planar spheres and even the Underdark among the collection of usual temples, dungeons and cities that populate Faer├╗n. The adventure has also been moved up level-wise, with +3 weapons being now a common occurrence and with enemies such as Beholders, Demi-Lyches and even dragons to fight against instead of the same old lvl 2 kobolds, the spell book has been upgraded to around 300 spells, and the character classes now support character "kits" which work like subclasses with special skills and weaknesses that add a lot of neat twists to the game.

All that plus new features like double-weapon wielding, interface fixes and a more accurate gameplay balance, for instance: thievery is now much more of a requirement and it even awards exp. points when successful. Mages can now cast spell triggers and contigencies making them much more resourceful in combat, in BG1 mages where useless fodder that could be dispossed of easily, now mages are devastating powerhouses that require equally skilled party members capable of casting spell turnings and stuff like that! And that's without mentioning the magical creatures like the vampires, beholders or dragons! Result? It's not enough to have a group of head-crushing fighters anymore, and true variety is much more necessary when considering party development. And speaking of party members, that's the only figure that seems to have dropped: 16 against the 32 or so of the original. But the drop in quantity is acceptable considering that much more dedication has been placed on each character and his/her particular background and storyline. Don't worry tough, along with the new party members you can still find your favorite BG1 characters back: Imoen (much more mature and with a dark secret and all), Jaheira (now single!), Edwyn and my personal favorites: the dimwitted Minsc and bad grrrrrrl Viconia. The characters have dropped that annoying tendency to come in pairs but they still converse with each other and can get into heated arguments and fights if they don't see eye to eye.

In short it's BG bigger, badder, with better graphics (there are even some polygonal elements here and there plus higher resolution options!) and more hours (upwards of 200) of gameplay. Enough to make a cool sequel right? But as I said the answer from the designers was twofold, and the other big improvement they made was really simple: Scripting.

Taking a lot of cues from previous Black Isle games like Torment and Fallout, BG2 forgave to a degree the freeform element of the original and crafted a much tighter world where no enemy is randomly spawned (aside from the obligatory but scarce chance encounters), each NPC has custom dialogues, each quest is meticulously crafted and every possible party member comes with their own scripted events and gets tied to the storyline appropiately. And the most impressive thing is that all these rather ambitious goals are kept for the entire adventure! It still boggles my mind that at no point in the game the quests fall in quality and every little nuance seems controlled by small scripted events, be it a run-in with some spies, a need for money, or some of the miriads of character-related quests that develop each party member Final Fantasy-style and tells us more about their backgrounds; or the class-related quests that provide you with a unique base of operations, quests, sub-plots and steady income depending on your character class; or the romance-scripted events and sub-plots; or the consideration provided by the designers to include small fandom-related touches such as self-parody, D&D cameos by Elminster, Dritz, the kids from the D&D show and enough self-references to the original to satisfy the most jaded fanatic (ever wondered what happened to that character? Practically every character from the original can be found in some form or another here!) ; or the optional challenges like hunting the pieces of a super-powerful hammer, defeating the dragons, assembling a sinister armor made of flesh, destroying Kangaxx, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc....

And still I repeat: at no time does the quality nor the quantity of the game take a dive. One might also think that with such priorities the storyline would decay and end up an inconsistent mess with little to no direction and with as much development as a Street Fighter storyline, but the fact is that the storyline benefits from the tighter scripting and actually soars above the original, exploring further the consequences of your demonic heritage and weaving a larger and more complex plot that interweaves most major players in Faer├╗n as well as most of the characters you meet in the game instead of being a series of subplots holding up a basic storyline like in other games. Granted, it's not as story-driven as Torment or some console rpgs, but it's still way up there.

The Bad
The ending is blatantly shitty, made for the exact purpose of leaving you with pretty much no answers and prompting you to buy the expansion... and some of the features that everyone wanted (such as knowing what the hell happened to each party member) got kicked over to said expansion...oh well, more BG can't be so bad....

Oh yeah and the final fight with Irenicus was a joke. Quite odd considering there are plenty of difficult challenges in the game and that the final showdown with Sarevok on the original was a veritable nightmare.

And what the hell happened to the spell effects? After Torment and it's screen-shaking, over the top spell effects I expected BG2 to be a super spectacle of magic spells!! Yet....

The Bottom Line
This is one bad ass rpg, one would expect such a massive game to be simply a freeform mess (Morrowind) or such a tightly written and scripted game to be a linear interactive movie (insert any console rpg here) but only Baldur's Gate 2 manages to reach both goals and remain solid.

Required gaming for any crpg wanna-be and gaming enthusiast, Baldur's Gate 2 is simply a masterpiece of videogaming.

Windows · by Zovni (10502) · 2003

It improves on the original, but loses something in the translation

The Good
Graphics went up to 800x600. Quests were easier to follow and track. You practically start out fighting. Some new character classes and abilities. You got to start out at a higher level, with more abilities to play with. The story was still engrossing, the music was still good, and there are still characters to pick up along the way - each with his/her own goals.

You get to play truly evil parties, and it isn't impossible! In fact, Vicconia actually likes you this way... .

The Bad
The entire series seems to suffer from ADD (Attention Deficeit Disorder). You simply cannot complete one quest without being offered four or five more along the way.

Another thing this series of games suffers from is mage-overkill. At the end of every quest there's a spell caster with some spell which is going to make your life miserable.

I found the graphics to be distracting. They were sharper and clearer, but something about them just didn't work for me. Maybe it was too many of the same hue.

Magic items seemed to abound in this game. Arguably, that's the way it should be for higher-level games, but other than my party and the people we were trying to kill, everyone was low-level. If Bob the salesman had +4 armor and weapons, why wouldn't he be out adventuring?

The Bottom Line
Overall, it's a good game. It will probably go down as one of the greats, but for me, it was too much. Part of that may be because I played the original, then immediately started playing this one.

Still, it's challenging (in a good way), and the story is really good. Just stay away from some unnecessary side quests and you should be OK.

Windows · by Cyric (50) · 2001

Throw away all your presumptions and play this game!

The Good
Let me begin by saying that I am not a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, and I am especially not a fan of the AD&D rules. The AD&D combat system is stupid and it's not something that should be ported into computer games.

Let me also say that computer games based on AD&D rules are usually stupid. In order to stay loyal to the AD&D fanbase, they never improve upon the basic rules. AD&D is fine on paper, but in a computer game, it's lacking.

And third, let me just say that Baldur's Gate was a stupid game. I dislike the "fantasy" genre in general and I hated the game. I thought it was a waste of time and was just plain stupid. I could go so far as to say it is the worst RPG I've played in years. The only redeeming quality the entire game had was the nicely detailed backgrounds. Other than that, I hated the game and was baffled by its rediculous popularity.

I don't like AD&D, I hate the rules, I hate "fantasy", I hate the Infinity engine and I really hate Baldur's Gate. That being said, I'd like to say that not only does Baldur's Gate 2 blow away all my expectations and assumptions, it's indeed one of the best RPGs - games, even - I've ever played.

Everything Baldur's Gate did wrong, Baldur's Gate 2 does right a hundred times over. Everything Baldur's Gate did right, Baldur's Gate 2 improves upon it. Baldur's Gate 2 has set a new standard for RPGs, one that will be next to impossible to top, and a great effort to meet. So if you're reluctant to pick up Baldur's Gate 2 - as I was - because you hated Baldur's Gate 1, believe me when I say the contrast between the two games is so great you'll wonder if Baldur's Gate 1 was just to test out the Infinity engine.

That isn't to say the game is completely different. The gameplay hasn't changed and it looks the same. That is the sheer beauty and genius of Baldur's Gate 2, that the developers were able to craft such a great thing out of something...not so great without it losing any familiarity.

The story in Baldur's Gate 2 is mostly original and extremely well-executed. Baldur's Gate 1 was cliche'd, predictable, and nausiating the way it was projected to you. Instead of adding some crazy twist to Baldur Gate 1's story, BG2 uses it as a setting for your character and your party.

The game begins some time after the events of Baldur's Gate 1, where you and members from your party find yourselves in captivity. As you rejoin your party, they give you some insight as to where you have been between BG1 and BG2 and, if you've never played Baldur's Gate 1, they can also brief you on what went on there as well. It's done convincingly through dialogue, rather than a narrative, which I felt was a nice touch because it gives your character more depth and can allow you to emerse yourself in it better.

The "big bad villain" in Baldur's Gate 2 is a great character that's both written and voice-acted extremely well. Unlike your shallow "evil brother" from Baldur's Gate 1, Irenicus has more to him than you'll probably know if you just play through BG2 once. He has a history, a purpose, and there are believable explanations for his power and his motives. And what I thought was the best part of the game: he's not just some "evil that must be stopped!" like in BG1 and most fantasy RPGs. Instead of you playing the good guy and hero of the universe, your motive for confronting him is to get your sister back and to stop him from doing evil things to you and to you only.

And you don't have to play the good guy in BG2. In fact, you can play however you want. You want to boss and kick people around? Do it! Consequences will come from your actions, and that is your motive for perhaps playing the "good" character, rather than "because you must defeat evil." One thing I couldn't stand about Baldur's Gate 1 was that you were more or less forced into playing a goody two-shoes character. Sure, there were some room for diversity - like joining the bandits - but it was nothing more than a few quests here and there for the "dark side", and that just doesn't cut it. Baldur's Gate 2 allows you to play your character how you want to play, with so many different paths to choose, so many different options throughout the game, I might just go back and play through it again, just to see what happens when I go down the other road.

Familiar characters from Baldur's Gate 1 are back, whether they'll join you or not. This is a great thing for Baldur's Gate 1 fans. Unfortunately, for me, it was interesting at best, since I just wanted to get BG1 over with so I can get it off my hard drive and free up some space. But for those of you who really enjoyed BG1, you'll get to see what became of those that you knew and those that you met only in passing. Some will even rejoin you once again, if you like.

You start out in the game at a reasonable level for what you might have beaten BG1 in (or the level you did beat BG1 in, if you imported your character - I think...I didn't do this), so there's no "I was able to slay a dragon not too long ago, but now I can barely work my sword!" foulness. Also, this allows you to jump right into the story and emmerse yourself in it, rather than having to go hunting (or "leveling" as it's often called) for monsters so you can take down a certain enemy.

Like in Baldur's Gate 1, battles are much more than your standard click-and-kill system. Sending your party at an enemy isn't going to ensure a victory, even if you greatly outnumber him. You'll need to use tactics, use an assortment of attacks and spells to defeat him. This was, probably, the one good thing I saw in Baldur's Gate, and while BG2 hasn't improved much (or at all?) on it, I feel that it isn't necesarry. It's a perfect system for the game.

I love the way the weapons appeared in the game. They actually made sense, this time. Special enchanted weapons are rare, and when you find them, they come with a description that explains why the weapon is enchanted and how it came to be in your posession. No "Fireblade of Doom" that you just happen to come accross that has no reason being there except to boost your power in combat. Also, the weapon alone isn't going to define your power in battle. You have to be good with it as well. That also means that just because you're facing a big tough bad guy and he's kicking your ass, it doesn't mean he has some special enchanted weapon - indeed, he's carrying nothing more than a longsword.

The characters in this game are brilliant. I don't think any RPG to date has had such interesting and deep characters. They're not just mercenaries-for-hire, they have a reason for joining you, and often times their personal business will come into play during your travels. They had a life before they joined you - they didn't just pop into existence once you started talking to them - and the life they lead will have an effect on you, your party, and the game. An assassin might come to take their life, or a visit to their family might end in finding their home village under attack by trolls, or something of that nature. Also, they'll converse with one another, even spark up a romance as they spend time with one another. And even you can become romantic with a party member (or so I've heard. I've never done this.)

The backgrounds, like Baldur's Gate, are all drawn by hand, and they're beautiful. Very detailed, every single area, and there are many areas in the game. There must be a thousand different backgrounds all hand-drawn!

The sounds have been greatly improved over BG1. The forest sounds like a forest, the Underdark sounds like the underdark. Your footsteps echo in caverns, and boards creek under your weight.

You can die in BG2. I mean, totally. In BG2, the most you could really do is fall unconcious or lie in a bloody heap. Nothing that couldn't be fixed by gathering all your belongings and getting you ressurected. In BG2, this isn't always an option, as your corpse will be totally kersplattered all over the place.

The journal is one of the best I've seen implimented in a game. It actually is easy enough to navigate without getting lost, but at the same time it's detailed so you know what you're donig. You can also make your own journal entries.

If for nothing else, this is one of the best RPGs because of the story and how it is executed. I've never really been fascinated by an evil villain before. It was always "Yarrr I'm evil! Yarrr die, mortals!" before.

Baldur's Gate 2 blows away everything I thought it would be.

The Bad
Such a great game, it is not without its flaws, mostly due to the AD&D rules.

First, it's a computer game, not Pen-and-Paper AD&D. They should have improved on the rules, changed them, or got rid of them altogether. AD&D is a turn-based game, and playing it in real time is awkward and doesn't always balance right.

You can't wear a ring of protection while you're wearing any other magical armor. It doesn't explain why, it just says you can't.

Classes are fine, but I'll be pissed if my mage is going to die because for some reason she couldn't wear a damn helmet. Some things I understand about class-specific armor. Wearing heavy armor reduces your freedom of movement - that I understand. You can't move very well, you can't cast spells. Fine. But if I'm not planning to cast spells, my mages should be able to wear some damned armor. They're strong enough to do it, so they should be able to.

Pathfinding in the game ranges from God-awful to I'm-going-to-stab-myself-in-the-eye bad. I like that they keep trying to find the way to where you sent them, but it gets pretty annoying if they decide to turn around and go allllllllllllllll the way around the entire map (getting killed in the process) because for a brief instant, the guy in front of him stopped walking. This is how battles in tight places are lost. If you have a hasted guy, and you tell him to do something, often times he'll disappear faster than you have a chance to pause the game and get him in the right direction, which by that time he found a nest of basilisks and is now a rock.

They could have spent more time with the water in some places. Since it's all pre-rendered and stuff, it wouldn't have reduced performance or anything to make the water look more realistic.

Spells never miss. Ever. It's damn annoying when you run away from a mage casting a spell, and then a minute later you see this slowly moving green blob chasing you down the corridor and it hits you and you die. It's one thing to guide your spells accross the gap to your target, but a spell shouldn't be able to track you like a homing missle if the caster can't see you or is distracted.

Armor is weird. It doesn't defend your body against attacks, it somehow either makes you super agile, or your opponent super clumsy. You'll never get his for 0 damage. Instead, the opponent will miss you entirely. It's not so bad in Baldur's Gate 2 like it was in BG1 where you could spend an hour just hacking away at an enemy because you can't hit him at all, but it's still there in many places.

"You must gather your party before venturing forth." Thank God the voice was at least soothing. You'll hear this a million times throughout the game, since you're not allowed to travel anywhere unless all your party is right next to each other at the exit - and even then, for every one that reaches the exit, you'll hear the guy say it again and again. That's five times when you want to exit (since the sixth doesn't count, as that would be your entire party, allowing you to venture forth). This is one thing that should have been fixed from BG1. There are parts in the game where I really don't want my entire party going. I may want to send my thief into someone's house to silently, stealthily steal something and then get out, but can't, so I have to take all six of my clumsy noise friends into the building and slaughter everyone because I couldn't get away with stealing the object.

The ending cinematic of the game is an obvious lure to buying the expansion pack. Boo!

Money is almost completely worthless in the game. At one part, you're required to obtain a large sum of cash (I'm not spoiling much here - it's one of the first quests of the game), and at first glance you wonder how you'll ever get that much gold. But soon, you'll not only have it, you'd have doubled, tripled, multiplied it by the tenth power.

There are a LOT of quests for you to do. I liked this, but it just got a little excessive at times. I'd be getting quest offers within quests within quests. I couldn't walk the streets at night for fear I might get mugged with a quest offer.

Some riddles were far too easy. They lead you to the obvious right answer every time.

It was a pretty good chance that at the end of every quest, you'd be facing some sort of spellcaster. It got a little old.

The Bottom Line
I was very reluctant to play this game. Whether you're a fan of the original, or AD&D, or not, or even if you hate it, you should love this game because undernieth the magic missiles and elves, there's a great story, executed better than any RPG I've seen before.

Windows · by kbmb (416) · 2002

An excellent conversion of the classic pen & paper game.

The Good
BioWare's Infinity engine does an excellent job of taking a basic, straight-forward role playing system and turning it into a vivid experiance, with the role of the game master replaced by the computer. A variety of treasures (spells and items), an easy character creation, and a lot of possible quests and errands (which change after restarting the game, with appr. eight possible paths) make this game replayable and fun.

The Bad
The game's music is repetitive and monotone. There is only one battle music, only one travel music, etc., and after several minutes of playing you'll open your favorite .mp3 and ignore the music entirely. Additionally, whenever you restart the game you have to do a tedious starting sequence, which is used as an "advanced tutorial" and bores experianced players.

The Bottom Line
Even if you don't like role playing games, try Baldur's Gate II- you can either play it as a slash and hack game or as a roleplaying game. It has a huge replayability factor (even with the annoying starting sequence) and the entire experiance is F-U-N.

Windows · by El-ad Amir (116) · 2000

An awesome game, even for complete newbies to D&D like me

The Good
Even though I had heard somewhat of how to play D&D in the past, my parents and others warned me away from it as it was "a tool of Satan." Well, they can forget that, because BG2 is a gift from God, it seems.

Even without my extensive knowledge of D&D's character creation and battle system, I eased into both quickly, and I feel like I know them well.

Graphics: Great! I especially liked how they drew little Boo (chaotic good hamster ranger; my favorite non-humanoid character) in with Minsc (chaotic good human ranger; my favorite male humanoid character).

Sound: Again, awesome. The music does not limit itself to just one selection for battle, nor one for travel; they change when you enter different areas. And your character's voices have so much appeal ("Go for the eyes, Boo, GO FOR THE EYES! YAAAA!" SQUEEEEK from Minsc) and pretty much anything Aerie says (Lawful good, elven (Avariel) mage/cleric; my favorite female humanoid character).

Gameplay: Pretty much what I expected from D&D, which is to say DEEP, involving and addictive. There are dozens and dozens of things to do in the game, so many that at some points you may feel swamped! That is a Good Thing(tm) though, as you never EVER have a shortage of quests.

The Bad
I don't see anything wrong so far (for anyone who knows what the Boo I'm talking about, I'm in Spellhold after... the meeting with Irenicus).

The Bottom Line
An awesome game, simply awesome. If that is, you have the time to sit down and play it, which unfortunately with school and all, I don't have much :( I wish I could play it more.

Windows · by EazyCheeze (25) · 2001

A Great Sequel!

The Good
The game took the elements of the original Baldur's Gate and made them better. The AI was improved so that when one member of your party is going to pick up treasure, other members will move out of his way. The 800x600 graphic size was a welcome improvement (though you can still play 640x480 if you wish). The ability to make notes in the journal was great for tracking important things like a specific place to return when a quest was completed. Also, now your party gets XP for doing things like picking locks and disarming traps. Conversations with NPCs are better done.

The Bad
What I didn't like was the repetitive music. Don't get me wrong, the music sounds great. It's just that after a while I was sick of hearing it (but I'm always like that). Also it seems that the number of quests gets to be a bit much. Granted doing all these things build experience points but most of them have nothing to do with the main storyline. So at times I would feel like "Ugh! Another tedious quest to do but hey, it will gain me XP and maybe a higher reputation).

The Bottom Line
Basically this game picks up where Baldur's Gate ended and goes from there. There are all kinds of new monsters to challenge your party as you become more powerful. Plenty of new items, spells, etc. in this game. If you like RPG games or D&D, you'll really enjoy BG2.

Windows · by AstroNerdBoy (35) · 2002

Nice story, some questionable game mechanics

The Good
Overall, it was pretty good. The story was interesting (until late in the game), and it wasn't full of annoying characters like KotOR was (except for Imoen). The "epic" nature of the game fit the fantasy setting and was likeable. The writing was well done, and I didn't feel the fourth wall was being broken anywhere. There's nothing to complain about the graphics/sound.

The Bad
I question some design decisions, though:

  1. Combat was more about selecting the right equipment and skills and then pressing "play" (except for mages I guess). Meh.
  2. Though the selection of side quests early on was nice, once you get to chapter 3 or so everything starts getting railroaded. More variety toward the end of the game would have been nice. I no longer felt like I was really exploring, but was instead simply clicking on the next door in order to enter the next area. Another meh.
  3. There weren't a lot of dialogue options. You could be really good or totally evil. No gray area. Especially in the late game. The Hell trials were silly. Third meh.
  4. The dialogue options that were there were repetitive and mostly lead to the same conclusion. Shudder.
  5. The Elven city was lame. A small map with a few buildings. The monsters made for a fun battle, but there was nothing besides that. Yuck.
  6. I thought the battles were too repetitive. Mostly foot soldiers. Wack and repeat. I didn't encounter a lot of difficulty except in a few areas. Meh.
  7. I generally started loosing interest in the game once I exited the Underdark. The story just wasn't interesting enough to care about. Yuck.

The Bottom Line
So, four mehs, one shudder and two yucks. Not sure how this balances against the game's good points...

Overall, I'm looking forward to playing Throne of Bhaal. However, I don't see myself replaying SoA in the future. I didn't find it sufficiently enjoyable.

Windows · by SharkD (424) · 2009

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, Flapco, Patrick Bregger, Big John WV, COBRA-COBRETTI, Jeanne, SGruber, Kabushi, Tim Janssen, Herv├ę Piton, Silverblade, Juan Arga├▒araz, Samuel Smith, Klaster_1, Apogee IV, gukker, Xoleras, Cavalary, vedder, Marko Poutiainen, eradix, Alsy, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Jack Torrance, Cantillon, Scaryfun.