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145 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mother of all computer RPGs
The Baldur's Gate franchise is the most popular single-player RPG series out there for good reasons, even though it's been a few years since its release. While more recent Black Isle games, notably Icewind Dale II, have vastly improved graphics and interface and others like Neverwinter Nights have changed the playing field entirely, BGII stands out for its tremendous...
Published on March 26, 2003 by Dinh Yen Tran

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Single Player not as good as the original
Ever since I got the original Baldur's Gate for Christmas 2000 from a friend, I've been playing in almost non-stop. For my birthday (July) in 2001, I bought myself the sequel. While installing, I was very excited, and I was very impressed in the beginning by the superior graphics and sound quality. However, two weeks into the game, and I became very less enthusiastic...
Published on August 21, 2001

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145 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mother of all computer RPGs, March 26, 2003
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
The Baldur's Gate franchise is the most popular single-player RPG series out there for good reasons, even though it's been a few years since its release. While more recent Black Isle games, notably Icewind Dale II, have vastly improved graphics and interface and others like Neverwinter Nights have changed the playing field entirely, BGII stands out for its tremendous scope and exceptional depth. BGII's complexity, intertwining subplots and host of myriad characters are enough to constitute a novel, one which you get to shape and play out instead of merely reading. To me that's the essence of RPG that few others have been able to capture. Reinforcing this feeling, at many points in the game you must make decisions that have far-reaching consequences. Furthermore, you can also complete many quests using the good or evil approach. You may decide how to proceed based on whether you want to be good or evil; there are non-player characters (NPCs) of both alignments ready to assist you.
BGII's strongest asset is its quests. While some quests are short and easily completed, most are substantial, highly interesting, and many engender their own sub-quests. For instance, one quest requires you to infiltrate a thieves guild suspected of treason; to gain their trust, you must finish several tasks for them; after you gather evidence of their treason, you're asked to go back and eliminate the guild leader; if you're successful, you then have the option of becoming the new leader and manage your own guild. It's possible to finish the game doing only the minimum handful of quests, but you'd be missing a big part of the game. Similarly, it's almost impossible to complete all quests in one run, because the quests you get depend on the decisions you make. For instance, you can side either with the thieves' guild or the rival vampires' guild, each of which comes with its own storyline and quests. Most of the quests are initiated at the beginning of the game in Athkatla. Subsequently, quests become smaller and more linear.
Characters are tightly intertwined with quests. Since you start off with only one player, you should add additional characters to your party. Characters range from elven cleric/wizard to human ranger/stalker. Some are carry-overs from BG1. Some are found only if you accept certain quests, and some come with their own quests. You can interact with virtually any character in the game. Each character has his/her own history, alignment, and personality. From time to time, characters in your party will initiate dialogues with you and with one another, most with some amount of actual voice dialogue. Some interactions are quite funny; I've chuckled many times with Minsc and Jan in my party. One feature that I suspect to be very popular is romance with characters in your party. If you meet certain conditions, a male player can romance with one of three female NPCs and a female player can romance with one male NPC. Romance are simply additional dialogues that you go through during lulls between battles. They don't add significantly to the plot, but they're an extra dimension that adults may appreciate.
A new feature in BGII is the "stronghold". The stronghold you get depends on your class. For instance, the fighter stronghold is a keep outside of Athkatla, while the thieves stronghold is a guild headquarter in the Docks district. Strongholds are gained after you complete a certain quest; they generate gold for your coffers and come with their own mini-quests at intervals. They're not essential to the story, but they add immensely to the illusion of role-playing. Another great new feature is familiars, small pet-like creatures that follow you and obey your orders. There are many tricks you can do with familiars, but mostly they're just cool to have.
If you haven't played BG1, the premise is that you're the illegitimate child of Bhaal, the God of Murder. After you defeated your nemesis at the end of BG1, your party was ambushed and taken prisoner. You wake up in a dark dungeon and find yourself tortured and apparently experimented upon by an unknown wizard. The game begins as the dungeon are invaded by hooded assailants and you are released. Now you must fight your way out of the dungeons and discover the identity of your captor and thwart his nefarious plan. You will explore the vast city Athkatla as well as travel to many exotic destinations such as an extra-planar prison, an underwater Sahuagin city, the Underdark, the elven city Suldanessellar, even the Nine Hells! There are innumerable dungeons and ruins along the way for your to explore. If any game is able to truly capture the dungeon exploring feel of D&D, this is it!
You'll encounter a virtual encyclopedic list of monsters, including golems, vampires, liches, beholders, mind-flayers, werewolves, demons, and dragons. Some are immensely powerful and require much tactical planning on your part. Mastering spells and understanding their effects and limitations are a must. This is a hard task as there are 300 spells of all types in the game. Enemy spellcasters have powerful magical protections that make them virtually invincible. However, every protection spell has some form of counter. To successfully attack them, you must use the appropriate counter-spells to weaken their defense. Game play is fast and furious. Battles are not as large as those in IWD2 and are more oriented toward magical duelling, which is equally if not more fun.
The sprite graphics and animations are unspectacular by modern standards, but they are no longer noticeable once you become immersed in the game. Background graphics is gorgeous eye-candy, however, particularly the Sahuagin city, the Underdark, and Suldanessellar. The soundtrack and voice-over work are superb.
BGII has very high-replay value thanks to its breadth and richness. If you like RPG games, this one is a must-have.
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect game for anyone except me..., January 22, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
Described in one word, Shadows of Amn is HUGE. The amount of choices you have for creating your character is huge - you'll probably restart a few times just to try different options for forging your champion, which range from seven different races (the classic stuff + half-orc), about thirty (I think) classes and character kits (specialist classes like inquisitor), and a myriad of other options like different combat styles and A LOT of spells. Truly, your imagination can, for once, run wild. Once you have a character you are happy with, the fun begins. Your character starts a lot more powerful than in BG1. Although the game starts out as a simple dungeon romp, when you eventually reach the city of Athkathla, far south of Baldur's Gate, the game EXPLODES with possibilities. You have tons of terrain to explore, lots of quests to solve (all of them take at least 15 minutes and are generally quite intriguing, unlike the usual fetch this, kill that), plenty of characters with interesting personalities to join your six-member-maximum party, many mosters to slay (of course), and a fantastic story to follow. Perfect in the gaming department.
And now to the technical stuff. The game's graphics are, all in all, gorgeous. The rendered backgrounds look ten times better than before, even though they're still 16-bit (the game does support 800 x 600 resolution now, though). Bioware's artists have truly outdone themselves. But here's the part I don't like: some of the game's graphics, like character, monster and spell animations aren't created in the same style. Some of them are taken from BG1 (meaning choppy animation and low detail), while some are completely new (meaning high detail and smooth animation). The problem is that I (and probably only I)find it weird to stand next to a monster taken from another game (some graphics are also from Icewind Dale, others from Torment), that's rendered in a different art style. And also some spell animations (which are mostly gorgeous) look like they've been rushed and don't look very carefully made. I could probably list a hundred instances where the game's visuals aren't "seamless". Well, you're probably thinking, "why the heck should I worry about that?" You're right. You shouldn't. Now go out and get the game if you haven't already. Enjoy.
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly brilliant, October 12, 2000
dj_swinger (Arlington, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
Baldurs Gate II: Shadows of Amn (henceforth BGII) is a truly brilliant game. Few other computer roll playing games can compare to the immersiveness offered in the world that Bioware has magnificently created. The only one that comes close was Betrayal at Krondor, 7 or 8 years old by now. Baldurs Gate I pretty much rejuvenated a soporific genre that was running low on ideas. BGII has built on the foundation of BGI, and the results are impressive. BGII does everything important right. It makes good use of the AD&D license with monsters, places, and objects familiar from those that played the pen & paper version. One of BGII's main bonuses is that it incorporates some new 3rd AD&D rules, specifically in character creation. Whereas before you were the familiar basic fighter/wizard/thief there are slews of new options. Each of the old classes, such as Fighters, have been given "kits" which are basically subclasses. So instead of being a guy or gal with a sword, now you can be a Mageslayer. This class has great bonuses when attacking magic wielders. On the minus side, they can't use a lot of magical items, including healing potions - which can make the game much tougher. Its a great balancing act, and makes playing the game much more immersive. As you play to your strengths and find ways around your weaknesses it creates much more of a dilemma and challenge. There are also three new classes: monks, barbarians, and sorcerers. All of which I could continue on about in depth... The characters you come across in the game world are fabulous as well. Other characters that join your group will have their own personal axes to grind. They often need your help and agree to join only if you do indeed help them out. If you dont keep your word, they will easily walk out on you. Also, if you try and mix good and evil characters in your group, they will have words with each other and may even fight to the death! Such drama! The game allows for an amazing amount of personalization as well. If you are so inclined you can import your own picture and voice files into the game, for that truly submersive experience. I could go on and about the good stuff as there is simply so much stuff to gush about. Interesting quests, size of the game (200+ hours of entertainment) etc, but there are a few caveats. The game is a bear - four discs! A full install will eat up several gigs. And if you dont do the full install, your load times can be veerry sllooo[...] Additionally, the minimum requirements are a bit misleading. I make the minimum requirements and I've had to do *tons* of tweaking to make the game playable. If your machine is borderline, be very careful, or else you will have a game that is barely playable, its just too choppy. Besides hardware concerns, there have been some performance problems - the game does occasionally lock up and crash. But overall, Bioware has done an incredible job in delivering a solid, bug free game (especially when you compare it to other stuff on the market) that pushes the limits of the genre. They have done nearly everything right: great manual, great support, multiplayer etc. If you are ready to graduate from Diablo's mindless hack and slash into a game that will challenge your imagination, tactics, and assumptions, do yourself a favor. Baldurs Gate II is going to go down as one of the best games to ever be produced. If you like roleplaying games, go buy this game. NOW!
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baldur's Gate II: Outstanding and Impressive, December 31, 2000
Stephen R. Edwards (Moncks Corner, South Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
This game is an absolute godsend. As stated in the first review I ever did on Amazon, I was not a fan of the role playing genre before this series came along. Since then, it has been a marriage made in heaven. Of course, my better half does not appreciate the time I spend with this series of games. Warning: Could Lead To Divorce!!!
In BGII you are a descendant of the god Bhaal. This leads to your kidnapping and torture at the hands of Irenicus. The story develops from this premises. You will find many positives to this game including: 1) Partial use of AD&D 3rd edition rules. 2) Inclusion of kits for the main classes of characters which leads to specialization 3) The ability to import your character from BGI 4) Massively improved graphics 5) Inclusion of Monk, Sorcerer and Barbarian classes 6) 200+ hours of game play 7) Romantic involvement with some of the other characters (Aerie, Viconia, Jaheira and for female player characters, Anomen) 8) Interface is extremely easy to use 9) Inclusion of characters from BGI such as Imoen, Minsc and Jaheira 10) Ability to gain a stronghold with specialty quests from that stronghold (I have used the fighter stronghold and the mage stronghold so far, but there are also strongholds for a Paladin, Ranger, Druid, Cleric, Theif, and Bard, each with special quests) 11) A lot of replayability as there are so many different character classes to explore. 12) High experience point cap which allows for example, a mage to use and memorize up to 8th level spells. 13) Multitudes of magical items including Vorpal and Holy Avenger blades, Ring of Wizardry, Armor forged from the scales of Dragons you kill, Bag of Holding and other items that can be forged from items that are found across the quest. 13) High level legendary monsters.
This game is an absolute must have for the RPG fan. It beats Diablo II hands down. Be prepared to think as there are many options open to the character and each choice can lead to unforseen consequences. Be prepared to fight as you are bound to run across a legendary creature or two. Be prepared to romance with one of the aforementioned characters. Be prepared to eat at your computer. By the way, what exactly is sleep? This is THE BEST RPG on the market!!!
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baldur's Gate, JUST GREAT!, October 16, 2000
Lute Leigh (Ballarat, AUSTRALIA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
Well, where to start. Well for starters if you read my review on Diablo 2, it stated how I would log on each day to their server just to get my fix. No longer. The day I bought Baldur's Gate 2 was the last day I logged in to Diablo. It is just that ... good!
Baldur's Gate 2 is an R.P.G. that many of us would be familiar with (Icewind Dale, Planescape:Torment). I've started the game again numerous times trying out all the different character options, and believe me there are many. Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Thieves, Bards and Mages each have 3 styles to choose from (example: The thief class has:- Assassin-poisonous dagger & +'s in cmbt, Bounty Hunter-special trap setting, and Swashbuckler-Cmbt excellent.) Then there are the three new classes Monk, Sorceror and Barbarian. So it is actually really good fun to play a single-classed character as opposed to the original.
Then into the game you start of as roughly level 7, depending on your class choice, which makes it a hell of a lot more fun as you are already quite capable opponents. Old characters are reprised, you'll encounter three at the beggining, and lets just say most of the wackier ones return for a bit more fun.
I recommend playing Baldur's Gate 1 first if you haven't already done so, as the story continues on from after completion of it. There are also a few references to the other Black isle/Bioware games such as Torment, where a Tiefling has entered a portal into your plane, and you must save him.
All this makes up for a hell of a game, enjoy!
Baldur's Gate 2, it's for you
Especially for anyone who's ever played a Black Isle game
It'll work on as low as a P2, 233
You'll play more than 100 hours, this poem is lame.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best computer game ever (and I'm not kidding), October 23, 2000
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
It is quite likely that Baldur's Gate II (BG2) will go down in history as the first computer game to move into the realm of "art" and be looked at in the same way as the great Volkswagen commercials of the 1960s have become "art". Yes, BG2 is a game, but it embodies such a depth of knowledge, the challenges are so real and complex, the story is so rich and engaging, it really is a lot like living through and creating a very good fantasy novel.
Some basics: I've played games and computer games since the mid-70s. At this time I own more than 200 computer games so I am well versed on the subject. I will state categorically that BG2 is the most interesting, well put-together, beautiful and satisfying game I have ever played. It has now pushed aside previous top games (in my list) such as: Planescape Torment, Fallout 2, Fallout 1, The Bard's Tale, and Diablo.
What is so good about this game? How about the visual display with beautifully drawn screens showing nearly everything you could want out of a High Fantasy game, from dark haunted forests to the inspired architecture of the Dark Elf city (the Drow if you want to be picky), complete with their spider-shaped beds. My single favorite spot in the whole game is the Temple of Ilumater. Not much happens in this place but visually it is such a treat just to visit it and watch and listen.
Speaking about listening, how about the soundscapes that were created for each area. Each area has its own sounds. In one place you hear the hub-bub of a city in the day and then, if you visit it later, at night, the sounds are different. For scary, how about the weird crashing noises you hear as you move through a deserted stone temple; or the deep thrumming sound you hear as you make your way through a long deserted magical sphere?
How about the richly entertaining characters you add to your party? From the berzerker ranger (Minsc) and his gleeful (though not entirely rational) yells, to the cynical comments from the Dark Elf cleric (Viconia), to the starry-eyed innocence of the elf maiden (Aerie). Some of the character interactions are laugh-out-loud funny (especially between Misc and the Gnome (Jan Janson) who is trying to steal away his pet hamster!). Some interactions are thought provoking, others are emotionally moving.
How about the battles you fight against the mightiest creatures imagined? Yes, the first time you see a red dragon, you are thinking "can I really fight this thing? It is bigger than a house!" Or when you first attack a beholder and are quickly turned to stone or disintegrated or charmed? These are the ultimate monsters in this game, the sort of monsters you dreamed about one day besting if you ever played Dungeons and Dragons. And here they are, in their full power and danger. Yet you learn the monsters weakeness, you learn to utilize the powers of the people that you command and finally you will be standing on a dead dragon's head, cleaning his smoking black blood from your blade. This is truly the stuff of dreams made real.
In closing, I will say again: Baldur's Gate 2 is the finest game that has ever been created and I find it hard to believe that it will be bested by any game currently in development. Future games are all going to be "3-D" and visually, they won't be able to compare to BG2, at least not for several years. Making games like this is hard, hard work. The people who created this (Bioware in Canada) were inspired and I don't think we will see this sort of inspiration again for a long time. Enjoy it now, there's nothing better. -- Colin Glassey
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...-KICKING FOR GOODNESS!, April 15, 2003
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
I bought this game when it first came out, after enjoying the original Baldur's Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast. I started playing and then set it aside -- for a reason I'll explain later -- and then got wrapped up in Dugeon Siege, Neverwinter Nights and then Icewind Dale II. But I kept BG II in the back of my mind, knowing I wanted to come back to it.
I did restart it recently, and I've had a great two months of gameplay. What a fantastic game -- story, music, humor, interface, combat, voices. It is simply first class in every way. It ranks among my all-time favorites.
I'll admit to being a total freak about playing D&D role-playing games -- they have wiped out any desire I have to play games like Unreal, Quake, NASCAR sims, etc. Ever since Planescape Torment, I've been hooked.
These D&D games can be grouped into two main types 1) hack 'n' slash -- Diablo and Diablo II being the best of those and 2) role-playing stories -- Planescape Torment being the purest of those I've played. Most games combine these elements. Dungeon Siege barely has a story, Icewind Dale and IDII have a story, but who cares?
Baldur's Gate II falls much more into the category of role-playing story. It has a great plot, and the plot is nearly always a factor. Combat, although plentiful, is not hack 'n' slash. It is more strategic, using your team of characters (up to 6) to the best of their abilities. In a good team, each character must contribute. In fact, one of your characters at any moment might be the key to your survival. That's engrossing.
But the greatest feature of BGII is the quirky personalities of the characters. They are all unique and VERY willful. They will nag you, annoy you, please you, surprise you. And they might just up and revolt against you. I had Keldorn (good) and Vincona (evil) in my party, and they are both really valuable characters. Keldorn is a [good] fighter with great magic resistance, and Vincona is a pure cleric who can save your life in the worst of the undead dungeons. But after a few heated arguments, Keldorn just up and attacked Vincona. He would have killed her, but I broke it up. I then dismissed Keldorn in favor of Vincona. About one chapter later, Vincona got angry about the 'goodness' of my team and quit on me in the middle of a quest!
The characters make for great, unpredictable gameplay.
And the dialogue at times can have you rolling on the floor with laughter. Minsc (a tough but goofy ranger) is always ready with a funny line...and yet at times shows such fierce devotion to your team that it can almost draw tears. And Nalia (a mage) is always fretting outside a city, because she doesn't like peeing outdoors. And Korgan, the evil dwarf, will agree to your direction, but add "or I might chop your head off, heh heh."
This gets back to my initial mistake playing the game. I tried to create my own team of six user-created characters. Although I formed a very strong team, they had no personality at all. That would take away all the fun of the game. When I restarted months later, I created a female 'skald' bard as my main character, and used NPCs for all the rest. Much, much, more enjoyable.
I highly recommend Baldur's Gate II. It is an exceptional gaming experience.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How is this game possible?, October 15, 2000
Antenox (Los Angeles, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
How could they have made this game? It's unbelievable! This is the best RPG I've ever played! I haven't discovered enough of the storyline yet, but from what I've seen it could even be better than Planescape: Torment, and that is no small feat! Torment itself was incredible, but the wide variety of possibilities that one can find within the game makes this a real role-playing game.
My few complaints about BGII are the lack of variety in the controllable NPCs, the lack of a run feature, an inferior journal system, and the horrible escape scene. In Planescape: Torment we had a scarred amnesiac with the power of regeneration and resurrection, a winged succubus priestess, a floating skull, a yellow-skinned githzerai, a floating, burning corpse, an animated set of armor, and a half-demon thief. Not only that, but the major non-controllable NPCs seem a lot more interesting that those in BGI and II: Ravel the Night Hag, the Transcendant One, Trias the Betrayer, etc.
In Shadows of Amn, however, all the characters seem to look alike. While the PC does have a huge number of character classes to choose from, he or she always looks the same. And the characters are all too small, not like in Torment.
The run feature really helped in Torment, if only to help me escape the hundred baatezu in Baator (that was one hell of a battle; thank God for Chain Lightning Storm and Meteor Shower). However, because the battles here occur mostly in tight quarters, and the entire party has to gather at the exit point, I suppose a run feature is sort of useless.
The journal system is both better than and worse than the one in Torment. In Torment, the journal updated very often, even when not on quests. In BGII, however, I've played through 24 game-days, and the journal has updated only twice, not including quests. It's also more difficult to keep track of quests. While in Torment the quests were conveniently listed as hyperlinks that you could click on to get an immediate summary, in BGII they are listed entirely, often with separate entries per quest. It takes up a lot more space and makes for a lot to read through.
The escape from the dungeon was horrible. It was frustrating to search for those doors in the dark, and those ... flying creatures that spawn in the first room you see are annoying ... and they don't give up any treasure. The beginning sequence with the mage and the main character was good, and the capture scene of him and Imoen was amazingly well-done and smooth.
This doesn't detract from the gameplay, however. I'm glad to see that they improved the pathfinding somewhat. In Torment and Baldur's Gate I, I had a ... time micromanaging my characters' movements so they wouldn't get separated just in case we ran into a pack of ogres or fiends.
The major battles are also monsters to deal with. In both BGI and Torment I mostly fought non-magic users, and as a high-level mage in both I had absolutely no trouble with them. In BGII, however, almost every major battle involves a magic-user, and it's frustrating ... to have a magic-user cast Confusion or Chaos on your entire party. Here's a tip: if possible save before a battle, then if you die, you can reload and before the battle mind-control any mages with Domination or Charm Person spells.
The dream sequences are amazing, and even if I've only seen very few of them so far (I'm sure there are more), I can see that they are already better than the all-dialogue box recollection sequences of Torment.
I also love the character development. I can see the NPCs develop as I journey more with them. They speak up a bit too suddenly, but I like the conversations that occur, and I missed this in both Torment and Baldur's Gate I. I'm still wondering whether a romantic relationship will develop. I'm also very happy to see more and more spoken dialogue, especially when compared with Torment, which, even though it had great voice talent, didn't dip into it far enough.
The new character classes seem a bit overpowered, but that's necessary for the battles you're going to fight. If I fought these battles with my old paper-and-pencil RPG character, I would have been dead in the first week of game time.
My character right now is a 9th level Kensai (I just started, alright?), with mastery in the Katana and mastery in two-weapon style, an 18/92 strength, 19 dexterity, and 17 constitution. While a kensai can't wear armor or use missile weapons, with his bonuses to THAC0, damage, and AC, I don't need any superweapons like Drizzt's Twinkle or full plate armor. 15+ damage per hit, more with the Kai ability on! Just give me a bottle of Oil of Speed, and watch the enemies fall.
If you liked Baldur's Gate I, you will DEFINITELY love this. If you liked Torment, you might be disappointed at the lack of variety in the characters, but you will not be disappointed at the gameplay and storyline, and definitely not by the huge number of choices at character creation. And I can already tell you that I'm going to be playing this over again once I beat it, just so I can play a mage instead of a kensai next.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-buy for any fan of Baldur's Gate!, October 17, 2000
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn was a much anticipated game. Most of my friends have played through Baldur's Gate and Sword Coast, as well as PlaneScape Torment, and were waiting anxiously for II to come out. Was it worth the wait?
The creators of BG2 have definitely learned from the previous games. The graphics are gorgeous, with a lot of the detailed textures and special effects that we've come to expect. Gameplay is smooth and uses the same interface as the other games - intuitive and easy to learn. You can even hide the interface if you wish.
The game carries along the storyline from BG, and you can import your old characters from the first game. Your friends are still there - even if you happened to kill them off or abandon them in BG.
The game developers learned from Planescape - BG2 is very open and epic in feel. None of this linear do-this-now-do-that nonsense. The role play is also great, and the options available to your character at any point are quite comprehensive.
Non-player intelligence is boosted in this game - people aren't as likely to get stuck behind a tree or next to a door.
In general, BG2 is a great improvement over the original BG, and a worthy follow-up. If you enjoyed Baldur's Gate or Planescape Torment, definitely pick this up and play through. With its higher optional resolutions and enhanced graphics, this also bodes extremely well for the next RP game these guys choose to make!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock-solid FRPG gaming, November 10, 2000
Jim Luebke (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC (Video Game)
Once again, Bioware has refined the art of PC RPGs. Its first offering, Baldur's Gate I, was revolutionary in producing a real-time 3rd person party-based RPG. Icewind Dale refined the engine and game mechanics to produce a much more well-crafted game, but without the character development of the original.
Baldur's Gate II is better than the best of both of these worlds.
As far as plot and character development goes, BGII leaves BGI in the dust. Picking up where BGI left off, your main character is immediately thrust into the center of a plot by an evil wizard fascinated by your inborn powers. However, this is far from the only plot. A multitude of side quests flesh the game out. In many of these quests, other characters in your party figure in as much as the main character; these sorts of interactions add richness and depth to the story. The only drawback here is that to experience it all, you have to re-play the game as a variety of character classes with a variety of different parties. Whether you'd like to replay such a long game just for the nuanced differences is a matter of taste.
While many of these side quests are simple find-the-item or kill-the-monster types of quests, many of them exploit the full potential of the plotline, the Infinity Engine, and the AD&D rules. They illuminate the backstory for the main character and party members. They give your character the opportunity to set up a stronghold, a high-level perk for AD&D characters, and they actually pull it off rather well. The fact that much of the experience you gain in the game comes from completing these quests means there is far less menial monster-bashing than in other RPGs-- there are still plenty of critters to hack up, but you're always doing it in pursuit of a clear goal.
Most of the quests are also tests of your ingenuity, requiring clever tactics and utilization of the variety of spells, items, and powers at your disposal. (A favorite dirty trick of mine, useful in some, but not all cases, is casting a Cloudkill into a room and then closing the door. It's especially useful when you can recharge a wand of cloudkill by selling and repurchasing it-- which also works on Rods of Resurrection). My only gripe (as an old-school adventure gamer) is that only one of the quests I have come across requires anything like the sort of side-thinking creativity you'd see in Zork or King's Quest... But not getting completely stuck for days at a single plot point is a plus.
Bioware also tweaked the engine to improve gameplay, game balance and variety in tactics. Spells have been balanced by counterspells, far more than in dice-and-paper AD&D. A multitude of subclasses ("kits") allow your characters to specialize in more ways than the simple fighter / thief / mage / cleric system. Combat tactics have been expanded to allow everything from unarmed to two-weapon specialists. Containers keep inventories from becoming cluttered with gems or scrolls. The adventure journal, while still not as well-structured as Might and Magic or Planescape: Torment, is still much improved. The automapping function now includes tool-tip style map notes. Also, for the most part, tedious retreading of steps on an already explored map is reduced.
In all, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in Fantasy RPG's, from Final Fantasy to Might and Magic to Ultima.
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Baldur's Gate 2:  Shadows of Amn - PC
Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn - PC by Vivendi Universal (Windows 95 / 98 / Me)
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