jasondaplock's Baldur's Gate Chapters I & II (PC) review

A milestone in RPG history

Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn is as solid a whole as games ever come. It has a complex storyline, a large cast of memorable characters, an epic soundtrack, an impressively functional turn-based/real-time combat system based on AD&D, a hundred side quests, thousands of description-touting items...this go on for a while.

This game was also, to my mind, the real beginning of dynamic roleplaying in an RPG. I wouldn't go so far as to say the story diverges to completely different worlds based on your actions, but there are few scenes in the game with a single process or resolution, even within the side-quests. Absentmindedness in dialogue screens will burn bridges with disturbing speed and occasionally creative results. One NPC you could bring along with you during the game was Keldorn the Inquisitor. He was a stern paladin, adhering to his moral code. So much so that without paying proper attention you could lose him forever in an instant. The act of pretending to conspire with vampires, even with plans to backstab them later, is enough to sway his opinion of you to an undesirable accomplice. This kind of thing is not even the norm today, nearly a decade later.

Shadows of Amn is better with the prequel under your belt, but only the level of detail; the game's plot is mostly independent of past events. If you burn through it, depending on your skill level, this game will take you between 25 and 40 hours. If you take time mingle with the locals and pick up the multitude of sidequests, it can take you over 100 hours. The game is hard not to like and has (in my experience) appealed to many gamers who normally ignore RPGs. If you have the time to play it, it is worth every minute.

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