Baldur's Gate 2. So many memories, so much enjoyment, so very very dated graphically.
I'll split this review into two part. The first part will be for people who haven't spent their fair share of time in Amn
, the second will be for those like me, for whom the continent is like a second home.
Baldur's Gatewas in many ways the defining roleplaying experience of the 90's. Not because the roleplay mechanics themselves were the focal point of the game. But instead because of the environment, built around that most epic of stories. I've you dear reader have had the pleasure of playing one of the later Bioware RPGs, you'll surely find familiar elements in the BG storyline (Dear EA/Bioware, when can I get to explore the daily trials of a humble grunt soldier / farmer's son in one of your otherwise wellwritten universes?). The NPCs are engaging, their party banter good for many a giggle, and their individual storyarcs satisfactory. The Forgotten Realms (DnD) setting well interpreted / used. One thing to note, however is, that some of the more obscure "classic" DnD mechanics such as Thac0 is used, it's silly in a computer game, and once you understand "which way" the number is supposed to go, you will quite likely happily ignore it again.
Gameplay-wise the game centers around 6-man party combat. Unlike another classic CRPG series, Fallout, you can't talk or sneak your way through the game. So combat is definetely the name of the game here. Unfortunately combat is not one of the stronger suits of the experience - and is in general something I would say Bioware isn't particularly good at designing. Practically it plays out as realtime 'with pause', which on normal to "harder" is required in pretty much all boss battles. It however lacks any of the in your face
realtime satisfaction of hack'n'slash games, and at the same time is utterly hamstring in it's tactical possibilties while paused. So it's more of a half-baked measure of realtime/turnbased than best of both worlds, which is a shame. The spell system of the different caster classes is however rich in variance, and as has always been true, throwing fireballs into the face of your enemy has eternally been 'great fun'.
The one thing that may be a dealbreaker for many a younger / new gamer is the graphics. They're not horrible, but they are very dated. And if you are a pure
graphics enthusiast it is rather unlikely you'll find much enjoyment in this game.
For the non-kids / teens / oldfarts like myself, how've already spent way too much time melting faces as the prodigal son of Bhaal: It's the BG2 you already know (and I assume) love. Not much has changed. It works on modern systems, without issues.
The extras haven't been noticeable enough to not seem entirely forgetable. Depending on your "internal rate of nostalgia", beware that Beamdog has redone the cinematics / cutscenes.
In my opinion the "it's on steam!" and multiplayer are really the most valuable features of this enhanced
As a small conclusion: Would I recommend this game to both the new 'uns and oldies? Wholeheartedly yes! Although I don't feel that the enhanced edition adds much, it's still one of the very best RPGs ever made, and will most likely retain that title for a very long time. Buy it!