Thirteen years have passed, and now Overhaul Games has re-launched Baldur’s Gate II as an enhanced edition for modern systems. Once hailed the greatest RPG of its time, Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow of Amn had garnered the attention of many D&D and role playing fans everywhere. But does the enhanced edition measure up to the thirteen year old legend?
Story – *No spoilers*
When the title was first release the story was one of the many aspects that made the Baldur’s Gate franchise popular. You first created and defined the hero of the game which provided endless amounts of replayability. Once the game began you could decide who you wanted in your party to further customize your playing experience as those characters provide side quests to pursue. In essence you built your version of the story while playing around the main storyline being any facet of good or evil.
In the enhanced edition, more side stories have been added to give not only the old timers but also new players more options for party members. Spawning from the original Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, three “new” party members return with additional quests to undertake. Neera (wild mage), Rasaad (monk), and Dorn (blackguard). The newest addition lies in a rogue-like figure named Hexxat whose appearance at first is not what it seems. Adding any of these four characters to your party will result in newly created content in enhanced editions of both Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal.
Also, the re-launch includes a new arena experience with The Black Pits II: Gladiators of Thay. If you recall from the original Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, The Black Pits was an add-on that involved personally creating a party that became captured by a twisted arena master named Baeloth. After defeating many of his monstrosities for his audience’s viewing pleasure, the adventuring party rose up against Baeloth and his minions to attain freedom. The deeds from the first adventure have not been forgotten, and another insane entertainer (Dennaton) decides your adventuring band requires servitude once again. Only this time there is a interesting twist to who is actually pulling the strings…
Those who remember the 2000 version of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow of Amn will recognize that the gameplay has not changed. This was a crucial factor for Overhaul Games as they wanted to leave the gameplay alone and focus on revisiting visual content as well as additional storyline moments. By leaving the foundation for a legendary game alone, Overhaul Games truly listened to the public in bringing back an epic role playing game.
As mentioned previously, The Black Pit II: Gladiators of Thay introduces a separate extension to the title that involves an unique flavor of pre-existing gameplay. Instead of adventuring all over Faerûn to lay waste mercenary bands or slaying outer planar creatures, an evil magic wielder named Dennaton has conveniently brought them all to you in a single arena. The rules are simple: you fight and win many riches OR die.
Overhaul Games has said most of the included updates have been completed in the background which involve bugs and glitches in the original title. While this may be true to a certain extent, glitches and storyline mishaps still occur in this enhanced edition. A noticeable glitch that may be all too common – though not terribly distracting – is the “loading/reloading” of a level. The glitch presents itself as a short preview of the loading environment then quickly black screens and shows the updated environment. This does not hamper the gameplay experience and is only a minor annoyance.
A storyline mishap can be noticed with our new character Hexxat. Though this isn’t a true bug as it is fixable, our new character must have a certain item in her inventory before leaving Dragomir’s Tomb. The fix is simple as you can re-enter the tomb and speak to her about the misplaced item. As this instance is well documented, I would assume Overhaul Games will implement a more permanent solution in their next update.
All previous audio works have been maintained to ensure that the original title was preserved, but additional content has been overseen and created by Sam Hulick who is well-known for his work on Mass Effect. Overhaul Games did exceptionally well in choosing Sam to embed his musical talents as the new content can be felt rather than heard. Take a listen to the snippet in the link for “Storming the Silver Heaven“.
User interface has been dramatically overhauled which provides a crisper look to the title. Whether you are navigating through the game options or accessing individual character sheets, you can notice that the interface has been revisited and cleaned very up well. Resolution played a major factor into the interface remodeling and can be noticed in the screens above.
A smaller visual victory can be attributed to character portraits developed by artist Keiren Yanner. This pack provides six male/female portraits that can be used for your Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition experience. However, you are able to upload your own portraits into the game title which belittles the addition of added portraits. For those that aren’t as manipulative these portraits are great as they come pre-loaded.
Whether you are craving the nostalgia from the original series or a new face to the revived titles, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition has the content for gamers to delve hours upon hours into. While some may argue that mods along with the previous version will suit your needs at a cheaper price, the continual updates and additions are worth the price. Begin your journey as the the child of Bhaal and forge your own destiny!
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