Weeklies

Game: "Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn"
System: PC
Genre: RPG
Published by: Other

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 4/29/2008

Review: If I hadn't been unemployed for six months in 2006, I never would have completed this game. Of course, by that time it was just a little bit dated, having come out in 2000. And PC games, being what they are, tend to be obsolete and forgotten within a year of their release, after the next shiny new thing requiring you to upgrade all your hardware comes along.

Don't get me wrong, I tried to play this game back when it came out. I even imported my character from the original Baldur's Gate and was delighted to see that everyone's favorite brain-injured ranger, Minsc, was returning with his furry friend Boo to offer more of his insanity-soaked humor. I escaped the initial dungeon and stepped out into the sunlit streets of Athkatla, capital city of Amn. And there, I was bombarded from every direction with needy, apparently lazy people presenting me with quests. So many quests that I soon started having trouble keeping track of them all, even using the in-game journal system. And they just kept on coming. I didn't need an in-game journal, I needed a scribe to sit next to me while playing the game! But where was that, Bioware? There was no scribe in my box!

After becoming overwhelmed by the million different quests I'd racked up ("Deliver this bottle of wine to Bob the cobbler!", "Kill that mouse, save the world!", "Shine my fucking shoes! But first, go on an epic quest to fetch my shoes!") I had to put the game down for a while. I had enough stress in my life as it was; I didn't need virtual stresses to add to it all. And the game sat on my hard drive, for many months, forgotten, until I deleted it to make room for other games I didn't have the time to play.

And then in 2006 I got fired from my job, so I dug out this game, blew the dust off of it, and for a couple weeks, it became my full time job. And once I had the time to devote to it and really focus on it, I realized it's quite a fun game. It's got an immensely detailed storyline (continued in the very good expansion Throne of Bhaal), lots of great NPCs to choose from in your party (sometimes causing an agonizing decision when you've run out of room and you have to let one go), tons of new monsters to fight, tons of new spells, and a plethora of interesting places to explore. It got rid of a lot of the problems that plagued the first Baldur's Gate, chief of which being (to my memory) the boring, repetitive level design. And while this game offers nothing near the character stories of, say, Planescape: Torment, it does offer a much more rewarding potential for interaction with your NPCs than the first game.

It's not without its frustrations, however. Some of the fights are insanely hard, and you'll find that much like all of Bioware's Infinity Engine RPGs, your characters will often decide to cast off the yoke of your control and declare independence in the middle of a crucial fight, whereupon they immediately die for having foolishly charged at a dragon by their lonesome (this of course, requires you to use the pause button to micromanage every combat to the extreme). They also (still) like to get stuck on walls or take the most circuitous path (often through hostile, monster-occupied territory) to get to the map destination on which you're clicking.

If you've got a lot of free time and don't know how to spend it, however, this is the right game for you. There are hours upon hours of things to discover in this game if you take the time to explore everything, and it offers up a pretty rewarding experience, whether you're a D&D geek or not (though naturally D&D geeks will appreciate it more). There have certainly been better role-playing games that have come out since, but for its time, this was quite the epic role-playing adventure, and it still held up as a pretty entertaining classic as of two years ago.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Apr 29th, 2008, 07:19 AM
Great game. I just recently dug it out and am just about to start ToB. Importing your character from the first game into this one, then into Neverwinter Nights is a real treat.
pickled
Apr 29th, 2008, 07:56 AM
I love the Baldur Gate series. They're probably the best top down video games.
lurking on the walls
Apr 29th, 2008, 11:03 AM
I'd suggest looking for the older Knights of Honor games, or even Return to Zork or Zork Nemesis, but this one looks like my kind ofgame
Funky Dynamite
Apr 29th, 2008, 01:07 PM
Fucking second edition rules.

My favorite part was turning the difficulty down a little, removing the level cap, and going through the game with one character.
Fucking Finland
Apr 29th, 2008, 02:18 PM
One of the best PC games I've played.

I've been planning of getting myself Baldur's Gate compilation as soon as I've finished with my entrance exam studies.
Feel the guilt
Apr 29th, 2008, 06:11 PM
Yep, this game is pretty damn amazing, and in my opinion, worthy of more than 3-and-a-half pickles. Tons of original quests, npcs, items and places. Practically none of that "Go to dark cave Nr. 3115 and kill ogre for magic longsword" stuff you see elsewhere. Best combat I've ever seen in an RPG, along with a great story and most badass villain ever. If you like RPG's, play it.
Forum Virgin
Apr 29th, 2008, 10:38 PM
This one is alright but it has one major flaw: 2nd edition AD&D. That makes most of those games unbearable for me. The only one I really love is P:T, followed by Icewind Dale 2, the only Infinity Engine game using 3rd edition rules.
Basement Monkey
Apr 30th, 2008, 12:56 AM
Nothing beats Plane Scape Torment.
Member
Apr 30th, 2008, 07:08 AM
First reaction to thumbnail: "Baldur's Gate! *shriek of delight*"
*skims through article* "Torment! *glee*"

Quote:
your characters will often decide to cast off the yoke of your control and declare independence in the middle of a crucial fight, whereupon they immediately die for having foolishly charged at a dragon by their lonesome.
Unless, of course, its Minsc, with a vorpal blade...(Gotta love 20's on fallen divas...)

I love the Baldur's Gate series. I picked up the first (and expansion) together and then, of course, picked up 2 and Throne of Bhaal. Personally, I had a harder time deciding between NPCs in the first game but the interactions in the second were, as you said, much better. And yes, the AI is something to be desired and the fights were *insane* sometimes, but it gave you one heckuva sense of accomplishment once you out-thought that lich...(I micromanage my fights *anyway* so AI wasn't always an issue for me.)

Torment, too, is a fantastic game and I played Neverwinter Nights so much I thought my mother was going to start an intervention...

As for the 2nd edition rules, I played the game back before 3.0 had come out, so it wasn't that difficult to wrap your head around. I'd imagine now it would be difficult, but back then, it wasn't that much of a stretch.

Four pickles, I say. Four!
Forum Virgin
May 1st, 2008, 10:54 AM
I still totally love this game. But seriously, the only guy macking on my heroine is ANOMEN? Bleah
GET OUT
May 1st, 2008, 08:35 PM
Bleah, I shouldn't admit to so many people that I've played this game numerous times. Lowering the difficulty and removing the caps is a serious must though, fucking dragons.

Quote:
I still totally love this game. But seriously, the only guy macking on my heroine is ANOMEN? Bleah
Hehe, Anomen. That's why mods exist, ya know.
Member
May 2nd, 2008, 03:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by alittlebirdytoldmeso View Post
I still totally love this game. But seriously, the only guy macking on my heroine is ANOMEN? Bleah
Hael'delis (the tiefling) was supposed to be a love interest, too, with a triangle between you, Aerie, and him. Stupid time constraints. I'd take the hot bard over the paladin any day!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asila View Post
Hehe, Anomen. That's why mods exist, ya know.
Always been a little too chicken to try mods *laughs* Don't know why. NWN sort of changed that a little, but installing them still confuses me.
Reptilus Rex
May 2nd, 2008, 04:07 AM
This game saved my marriage.

Just kidding, she's dead.
Fucking Finland
May 2nd, 2008, 04:34 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asila View Post
Lowering the difficulty and removing the caps is a serious must though, fucking dragons.
Aww c'mon, those dragons weren't even hard
GET OUT
May 2nd, 2008, 02:52 PM
Quote:
Aww c'mon, those dragons weren't even hard
You know, when I'm on my 20th playthrough and I've listened to some massive scaly thing expostulate for 10 minutes yet again, I think I can be forgiven for wanting to kind of get the battle over with.

Quote:
Always been a little too chicken to try mods *laughs* Don't know why. NWN sort of changed that a little, but installing them still confuses me.
Almost anything that's been scripted in WeiDu is fairly self-explanatory, and about 90% of them are. Umm... http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/BG2/index_mods_npc_m.php if you want a male romance. Edwin's my favourite but apparently I like sarcasm a little too much.
Forum Virgin
May 3rd, 2008, 07:09 AM
You must gather your party before venturing forth.
Member
May 3rd, 2008, 07:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asila View Post
Almost anything that's been scripted in WeiDu is fairly self-explanatory, and about 90% of them are. Umm... http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/BG2/index_mods_npc_m.php if you want a male romance. Edwin's my favourite but apparently I like sarcasm a little too much.
Don't you mean Edwina? (If I remember that little side quest correctly...) And I'd actually have to reinstall the thing, but I'll keep the link in mind, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilgongo View Post
You must gather your party before venturing forth.
Gah! The memory. It burns! I was so glad Torment let you get around that (especially when one of my characters managed to somehow get *stuck* and I had to leave the screen to fix it.)
Fucking Finland
May 3rd, 2008, 03:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asila View Post
You know, when I'm on my 20th playthrough and I've listened to some massive scaly thing expostulate for 10 minutes yet again, I think I can be forgiven for wanting to kind of get the battle over with.

Bah! The longer the battle takes the better. All this because of that kick ass battle music.

I don't remember whether that tune played in the fight against Thaxll'ssillyia, but the music which plays while fighting against Firkraag was one of the highlights of the game for me.
GET OUT
May 3rd, 2008, 03:30 PM
Quote:
Don't you mean Edwina? (If I remember that little side quest correctly...) And I'd actually have to reinstall the thing, but I'll keep the link in mind, thanks!
No no, I did mean Edwin. It's a mod that allows a female protagonist to romance him.

Quote:
the music which plays while fighting against Firkraag was one of the highlights of the game for me.
...
...
...Actually yeah, that was pretty awesome.
Forum Virgin
May 3rd, 2008, 11:10 PM
I love baldurs gate I have playd the game since I was around 13 loved it so much got every expansion and sequal and have beaten it many times and every so often I go back to play a new romance or mod that comes out..
Member
May 4th, 2008, 07:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asila View Post
No no, I did mean Edwin. It's a mod that allows a female protagonist to romance him.
Sorry, poor joke at the red wizard's expense...as I recall, there's a side quest that turns him into a girl at one point...
Ultimate Buzzkill
May 4th, 2008, 09:40 PM
I loved the first one, but when i bought the second one, the damn thing was missing a cd, but I didn't find that out until after I'd replayed the first in order to import my character, and at that point EB refused to exchange it. Never went back.