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The nostalgia of playing the classics continues with Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition. Sure you might be asking, ‘Does this guy play any games less then a decade old?’ The answer is…not often! But screw you buddy, these games are awesome.
The original incarnation of Baldur’s Gate II was an improvement on the first game in pretty much every way. The graphics were better, the user interface was newer and far less clunky, and most importantly the story was more solid. The second installment in the Baldur’s Gate franchise stepped away from the more tongue-in-cheek attitude of the first, and became a real gritty and expertly written RPG. Sure, Minsc was still more than a little addled, but gone were the breaks in the fourth wall, and obvious homages to developers buried (literally) in random graveyards. Baldur’s Gate II was a masterpiece of writing and free form play.
Each of the over a dozen NPCs came fully equipped with unique personalities, banter, and side quests. Sure, some were better than others (I’m looking at you Cernd, you useless furball), but all of them added a unique experience to the game. While all roads lead to a single conclusion, those roads could vary significantly, and thus added a replay value unmatched by almost any other game I have come across. But enough shouting praises at the already established and well-ingrained Bioware product, this is after all a review of the Enhanced Edition, and not an excuse to walk down memory lane. Totally. Seriously, stop giving me that look.
Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition continues to expand upon the NPCs introduced in BG:EE as well as adding another new addition to the cast. Hexxat, an evil pure rogue adds an addition to the game that was sorely lacking in the original. Combined with a fairly intriguing character arc of her own, Hexxat genuinely adds to the game. Dorn has gone from interesting to downright psychotic and I fear he is a bit over the top. While his voice acting remains superb, his quests are a bit shallow and predictable. Rasaad, our wonderful monk companion continues to delight in a manner that matches the darker tone of BG II in a refreshing way. Neera chimes in with her comic relief, and stays more true to the original Baldur’s Gate tongue in cheek atmosphere. That being said, her quest line is much better in this second installment than the first and she remains a likeable character.
Beamdog missed a few good opportunities here, however. Many people who were hoping for more continuity with what NPCs would transfer over to BG2 were once again sorely disappointed. That and the fact the game does not freely import characters from the final save of BG:EE and requires some copy and pasting in the game folders is rather annoying. Aside from some minor bug fixes, closed exploits and the new NPCs, not much was added to the game. Not stymied by the flat, conversationless NPCs of the original Baldur’s Gate, it’s hard to call Baldur’s Gate II all that enhanced in my opinion. That being said I still don’t regret spending the money on the game, but if you are short on funds, you might look elsewhere for what to buy.
Anyone who is a fan of the franchise will notice that Throne of Bhaal, the expansion pack for Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn was not reviewed here. That is because the very large expansion pack adds over 20 hours in it’s original form, so I thought it deserved it’s own post. This has nothing to do with job security at the blog that does not pay me. Alright, maybe a little bit but it is certainly a valid position!