Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition Review - Old and Improved

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition Review - Old and Improved

An old game best suited for a new audience

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Artemis923

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For the glory of Amn!

Eh, I already own the original. I've played, loved it, pulverized it.

Now might be a good time to dig it out and blow the dust off though.
 

tzimize

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Artemis923 said:
For the glory of Amn!

Eh, I already own the original. I've played, loved it, pulverized it.

Now might be a good time to dig it out and blow the dust off though.
Played through it not too long ago. It might even be better today, seeing as there is a lack of RPGs of this caliber nowadays.

It really is one of my all time favorite games.
 

Scars Unseen

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The recommendation summary is perhaps a bit off, as one thing the review fails to mention is that BG2EE has externalized a lot of previously hard coded features. That means that the modding community - and by association people who play with mods - have more reason to use the Enhanced Edition than most.

The bugs are regrettable, but Beamdog has been pretty diligent in hunting down and eliminating those down in the past, so it doesn't bother me to much.
 

DementedSheep

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I actually finished reaplaying the BG series shortly before the first EE came out. Unfortunate timing because it left me little reason to buy the EE. If I ever get the inclination to replay Bulders Gate again I might pick this up but since it adds little I'm not going to replay the game just for it.
 

godofallu

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I wish I could find a review somewhere from somebody who didn't grow up with/play it when they were younger.

Just 1 person who isn't full of nostalgia and actually has a first hand opinion that's actually relevant to the majority of people looking for a review of this game.
 

Andy Chalk

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godofallu said:
Just 1 person who isn't full of nostalgia and actually has a first hand opinion that's actually relevant to the majority of people looking for a review of this game.
I think my recommendation covered that point, at least in shorthand: If you're an RPGer who hasn't played Baldur's Gate, this is a great way to go. If you want a closer look at the original content, why not just read one of the many reviews that were written when it was new? I mean that completely sincerely - that part of the game has not changed, which is why I think you'll see most reviews waxing nostalgically about the original release and focusing their critical efforts on the new stuff.
 

godofallu

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Andy Chalk said:
godofallu said:
Just 1 person who isn't full of nostalgia and actually has a first hand opinion that's actually relevant to the majority of people looking for a review of this game.
I think my recommendation covered that point, at least in shorthand: If you're an RPGer who hasn't played Baldur's Gate, this is a great way to go. If you want a closer look at the original content, why not just read one of the many reviews that were written when it was new? I mean that completely sincerely - that part of the game has not changed, which is why I think you'll see most reviews waxing nostalgically about the original release and focusing their critical efforts on the new stuff.
The thing is when the game was new standards and graphics were different. What blows people away one day will seem like garbage a decade later.

I don't blame you for taking the review and you did the best you could have done given the circumstances. But I want to know if someone who wasn't there for the original and has the standards of today can go back to a game which frankly looks horrible and forgive it of it's glaring flaws.

I know a lot of times reviewers at companies will fight over who gets to review each game and it just seems like on every gaming website I checkout, the review of this game is always done by someone who absolutely loves and adores the original. If I was a game reviewer you can bet I would have fought for a chance to review Halo Anniversary. I get it and it's not necessarily a bad thing. I just wanted a fresh take and was disappointed when I didn't get it.
 

Vegosiux

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godofallu said:
The thing is when the game was new standards and graphics were different. What blows people away one day will seem like garbage a decade later.

I don't blame you for taking the review and you did the best you could have done given the circumstances. But I want to know if someone who wasn't there for the original and has the standards of today can go back to a game which frankly looks horrible and forgive it of it's glaring flaws.

I know a lot of times reviewers at companies will fight over who gets to review each game and it just seems like on every gaming website I checkout, the review of this game is always done by someone who absolutely loves and adores the original. If I was a game reviewer you can bet I would have fought for a chance to review Halo Anniversary. I get it and it's not necessarily a bad thing. I just wanted a fresh take and was disappointed when I didn't get it.
BG2 wasn't revolutionary in terms of graphics, as far as I'm concerned. It was revolutionary in terms of what path it set for the genre regarding storytelling, gameplay and the like. That's what made it great, and still makes it great today.

Even the original BG2, with its "crappy graphics" can be played well enough with a couple of mods to take care of those issues. The beauty of BG2 is in the storytelling, the characters, the character interaction. I've seen few villains that were written as well as Jon Irenicus ever since, for example.

It's not one of the "classic" games because of how it looked, but because of what it is, the content is the mindblowing thing, not the wrapping it comes in.

That said, I will not be getting the EE, since I am happy enough with my original game, and the mods that were made for it ^^
 

Reed Spacer

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Pity it's not coming to the PS3. I could just never get used to playing a game on a PC - it just doesn't feel right somehow.
 

Andy Chalk

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godofallu said:
I just wanted a fresh take and was disappointed when I didn't get it.
I can dig that, and it's not an unreasonable request. I think one of the obstacles you're up against is that BG2 is an absolute monster, and the imperative to get a review in for launch day (or awfully close to it) tends to exclude people who can't jump in and immediately start putting the boots to it. And I really do think that if you read a few reviews from back in the day, check out some screens, etc., you'll find as much value as you would from a "modern" review.

Plan B: Try the demo. http://www.fileplanet.com/164134/160000/fileinfo/Baldur's-Gate-II-Demo-[Full-Install] [http://www.fileplanet.com/164134/160000/fileinfo/Baldur's-Gate-II-Demo-[Full-Install]]

Vegosiux said:
Even the original BG2, with its "crappy graphics" can be played well enough with a couple of mods to take care of those issues. The beauty of BG2 is in the storytelling, the characters, the character interaction. I've seen few villains that were written as well as Jon Irenicus ever since, for example.
I agree with your points about the story, character interaction, Irenicus, etc., but I would argue that BG2 (and BG) are really beautiful games, far more so than, say, Neverwinter Nights or Dragon Age. They're 2D and the character models lack the detail of newer games, but the hand-painted backdrops are gorgeous and the EE does a very nice job of "remastering" them. Coupled with support for hi-res, widescreen monitors, I think it looks absolutely fantastic.
 

Rad Party God

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Ever since this game was released on GOG, I've tried several times to get into it, but I just can't.

The gameplay is waaaay too confusing to me, I didn't grew up with D&D and I don't want to learn all the rules just for 2 games. But the thing is, I'm not avert to old RPGs, I absolutely love Fallout 1/2, but I just can't get into both BG's and it's a shame, because of how much I hear "the best thing ever" and I won't be able to enjoy it.
 

Andy Chalk

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SupahGamuh said:
The gameplay is waaaay too confusing to me, I didn't grew up with D&D and I don't want to learn all the rules just for 2 games.
You do have to be willing to learn the basics, but it's not necessary to be a hardcore number-cruncher or put together optimal builds to succeed in the game. It throws a lot of stats and numbers at you (THAC0 is still a thing in BG2) but you can get by on common sense: Your fighter rocks a sword, your thief gets leather armor, mages at the back, etc. It'll be a tougher experience for you, at least at first, but I bet it would be manageable. And honestly, if you can handle Fallout, BG2 should be no problem.

OTOH, not every game is for everyone. I love Baldur's Gate, but Dragon Age: Origins put me to sleep. Sometimes a game just doesn't click. I will say, to you and everyone, that if you find yourself getting bogged down and losing interest in BG2 in the opening dungeon, stick with it. It's a relatively small area and it leads directly into Athkatla, which is where the game really comes alive. If Athkatla can't fire your interest then you might as well pack it in, but you're shortchanging yourself if you give up before that point.
 

Sanunes

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SupahGamuh said:
Ever since this game was released on GOG, I've tried several times to get into it, but I just can't.

The gameplay is waaaay too confusing to me, I didn't grew up with D&D and I don't want to learn all the rules just for 2 games. But the thing is, I'm not avert to old RPGs, I absolutely love Fallout 1/2, but I just can't get into both BG's and it's a shame, because of how much I hear "the best thing ever" and I won't be able to enjoy it.
I do completely agree with you, if you dislike the D&D rules this probably won't be a game for you. I know I hated the game when it first came out until my friend loaned me a copy of his DnD books, then I understood the game better.
 

Zeldias

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godofallu said:
I wish I could find a review somewhere from somebody who didn't grow up with/play it when they were younger.

Just 1 person who isn't full of nostalgia and actually has a first hand opinion that's actually relevant to the majority of people looking for a review of this game.
I didn't. Let this go with a disclaimer that I haven't beaten the game.

Characters have a lot to say, which is pleasant, and party interactions can be cool. The ruleset is horrible and ancient (although I think the only CRPG that really did a modified DnD ruleset kinda well was KotoR2). The game is intensely slow; fights are slow, walking around is slow, and it can feel like a slog. The UI is kinda shit.

The best thing I can say about it is that the characters are cool and talkative, but I don't find them particularly interesting. For several of them, it feels more like seeing archetypes that I enjoy than feeling like my characters are people. The combat can be engaging, but also clunky and irritating in that way. My summation is that it's expansive, clunky, and shows it's age. I'm not necessarily sure whether I'm ready to call it bad or good yet, though; I'm divided on that front.

So I feel like the characters don't really break out of their tropes, the UI is shit, the game is sluggish in terms of traveling and fighting, I don't find the way the ruleset is used in the game to be that great, and god damn does the game feel slow. On the other hand, you do get a LOT of character interaction, which is fun, and the characters interact with each other, sometimes to the point of having to fight to the death to settle some beef. It's a large game, and the combat, while feeling slow, can also be pretty engaging at times.

My feeling is generally that it's worth a go if you feel curious, but I don't think it's the best CRPG experience you could have.
 

likalaruku

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I'd have been satisfied with one of the following:

1)Infinite bag of holding.
2)More traveling salesmen who'd buy whatever shit you were carrying.
 

The Artificially Prolonged

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Never played either Baldurs Gate games, though I have both the originals from GOG.com in my to play list. I just haven't been able to get the mods that make the resolution and on screen writing a bit more comfortable for me to work properly as yet. From the sounds of it might me easier for me to pick up the enhanced editions and save myself some time tinkering with mods.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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SupahGamuh said:
Ever since this game was released on GOG, I've tried several times to get into it, but I just can't.

The gameplay is waaaay too confusing to me, I didn't grew up with D&D and I don't want to learn all the rules just for 2 games. But the thing is, I'm not avert to old RPGs, I absolutely love Fallout 1/2, but I just can't get into both BG's and it's a shame, because of how much I hear "the best thing ever" and I won't be able to enjoy it.

I played through both the original games, Icewind Dale and Planescape torment (all of which use the D&D ruleset) without so much as knowing what the THAC0 is, and without any indepth knowledge of the AD&D rules. What I *did* have to learn was to map quick save and quick load and use both, a lot.

Other than that, though, especially on BGII, where you're of a fairly high level and able to use a lot more of D&D's bag of tricks, you can get through it just as well. Some of it is trial and error, more of it is actually being prepared for anything (which is where BGI falls short ruleswise. A Thief character is virtually useless at low levels, for example), preparing before a foreseen battle (with good preparation and a litle luck, a smart use of a party can fell a dragon in seconds, for example, so smarts do trump raw power.) and using save a lot to always have the bearings of all party members.


The point being that you don't necessarily have to know the ruleset or the inner math of the thing. And though it can lead to nasty spoilers, I'd say to play with the second game first to get your bearings as the higher levels make it so you have more options and the mistakes are more forgiving. Or better yet, get Icewind Dale, as it's much more combat oriented and it allows you to level up fast, and might be a good way to get yourself aquainted with the inner workings.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Zeldias said:
godofallu said:
I wish I could find a review somewhere from somebody who didn't grow up with/play it when they were younger.

Just 1 person who isn't full of nostalgia and actually has a first hand opinion that's actually relevant to the majority of people looking for a review of this game.
I didn't. Let this go with a disclaimer that I haven't beaten the game.

Characters have a lot to say, which is pleasant, and party interactions can be cool. The ruleset is horrible and ancient (although I think the only CRPG that really did a modified DnD ruleset kinda well was KotoR2). The game is intensely slow; fights are slow, walking around is slow, and it can feel like a slog. The UI is kinda shit.

The best thing I can say about it is that the characters are cool and talkative, but I don't find them particularly interesting. For several of them, it feels more like seeing archetypes that I enjoy than feeling like my characters are people. The combat can be engaging, but also clunky and irritating in that way. My summation is that it's expansive, clunky, and shows it's age. I'm not necessarily sure whether I'm ready to call it bad or good yet, though; I'm divided on that front.

So I feel like the characters don't really break out of their tropes, the UI is shit, the game is sluggish in terms of traveling and fighting, I don't find the way the ruleset is used in the game to be that great, and god damn does the game feel slow. On the other hand, you do get a LOT of character interaction, which is fun, and the characters interact with each other, sometimes to the point of having to fight to the death to settle some beef. It's a large game, and the combat, while feeling slow, can also be pretty engaging at times.

My feeling is generally that it's worth a go if you feel curious, but I don't think it's the best CRPG experience you could have.
This is your review of the first game, the second one, or the "franchise" in general? Because I can see where a lot of these criticisms can come from in terms of the original, which had a great story, but somewhat stereotypical characters. To me, BGII is where the magic truly happened, once you had he ability to romance, sort through the characters backstories (and even watch them romance each other despite yourself), and just be generally driven insane by Jan Jansen. Because turnip obsessed verbose gnome mage inventors can really liven up a party. And it was also where you started with a much more generous bag of tricks to play with, so that you had a few more options in how to go about things. Replaying BGI really had me wondering back at how restrictive being a low character can be, especially in a game world that is very unforgiving.