Classic RPG Baldur’s Gate 2 revived for PC
When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you…
Revisiting old games has long been a tricky affair. The process has been made easier by the devotion of fans running Abandonware sites for games without owners (or absent owners) and the genius of the DosBox game emulator.
But times are changing thanks be to GoG! It still surprises us how many people don’t know about GoG.com. This is a site devoted to getting the best retro games running smoothly on contemporary PCs and selling them legally, DRM-free and at a reasonable price.
Recently we weren’t that impressed when GoG.com faked it’s own death when going from beta to full release, but then it teased us with the promise of Planescape Torment and the Baldur’s Gate franchise and they’ve since delivered.
Today, it’s the turn of Baldur’s Gate 2: Complete for a mere 10 American bucks.
You meet dragons – and kill them. That’s okay though they are pretty arrogant.
The complete edition has the original game (obviously) Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn plus the tightly sculpted expansion Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal.
We tried to dig out the original review of the game, but the archive librarian wouldn’t spit it out for us to read, but we liked Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal a lot. In fact we gave it 92%!
Here’s what we said, words by David Bradley (who is now the editor of SFX):
We could be cynical and say that Baldur’s Gate II is the last game to need expanding: at 200-plus hours it’s already massive. But the truth is that we love Baldur’s Gate II, and so do you.
If you haven’t rumbled with the kobolds and golems yet, this is the perfect excuse to get yourself a copy. Throne of Bhaal extends the story of the BG series – bringing it to an end, in fact and adds masses more possibilities. But beware because this expansion extends the story, you either need saved games at the end of Baldur’s Gate II or the desire to skip ahead and start from where Throne of Bhaal picks up.
The Watcher’s Keep is a massive and tricky dungeon, and here we are, preparing to descend.
You can, however, play through the Watcher’s Keep adventure at any time, although, like the rest of the expansion’s content, it’s furiously tough. Good job, then, that you can now take your characters up to seriously high levels: we had level 30 characters well before the end, although priest magic ends at level seven and mage spells at level nine.
Now, though, characters can also gain special abilities when they level-up, such as whirlwind attacks for fighters and super-powerful spells for clerics and wizards. There’s also the new wild mage character, plus a new NPC to join your party – and a familiar face at that. The trouble is that experience points come thick and fast: while it might have taken nearly 200 hours to gather three million in Baldur’s Gate II, you’ll double that in the 40 or so hours it takes to play Throne of Bhaal.
Combat plays a heavy part, and there are plenty of new monsters to take on (or old, as this was the original caption. This looks more like a high fantasy foam party to us).
The story is convincingly driven forward through your own discoveries and in-engine cut-scenes. Again, you’re being manipulated, but your destiny looms ever closer, and the tension and urgency is excellently portrayed. Surprisingly, there’s more humour to Throne of Bhaal than before: interactions within your party are better acted than ever, and you’ll laugh out loud when you encounter Cespenar the imp, your butler and weaponsmith.
The simple formula which won us over with previous Baldur’s Gate games is stronger than ever, honed to a razor edge in this satisfying conclusion to the series … Anyone with the slightest interest in adventures and role-playing would do well to get this and a BGII, and buy into the finest PC storytelling experience around.
GOG.com are also chucking in some nice RPG loot, including the original soundtrack, artwork, wallpapers and a map.
Also on PC Format: re-release and replay review of classic RPG Planescape Torment
on Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 5:31 pm under News.
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