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Reviews: PC Games - Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

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Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

By samoht (9 October 2000)

Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

Ups: Epic tale; beautiful art; incredibly detailed game world; excellent character interaction and development; brilliant musical score.

Downs: Multiplayer is still slightly buggy; some niggling pathfinding issues; open-ended nature could be overwhelming for newbies.

Bottom Line: The finest example of a PC RPG -- ever. An improvement on its predecessor in nearly every aspect and a stunning achievement. Black Isle and Bioware have set a new standard for the genre with this highly involving epic. "Hamsters and Rangers...Rejoice!".

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 fists   Perfect

YOU ARE THE CHILD of Bhaal, the god of murder. In the events chronicled in Baldur's Gate you discovered the truth of your lineage, killing your half-brother Sarevok in the process. His machinations to cause a bloody war which would grant him the power of your father were foiled and you were hailed as a hero. However, your story has only just begun. Driven by frightful visions, you leave the city of Baldur's Gate in search of answers. Shortly after venturing forth from the city with your companions, you are set upon, knocked unconscious and taken prisoner. You awaken in a cell taunted by a powerful mage who tortures you with painful magical experiments in an attempt to harness the raw power of your godly inheritance. Baldur's Gate 2: The Shadows of Amn begins with this series of epic events which sets the scene for the finest RPG to ever grace the PC.

Click for enlargement

The game begins with the option to either create your character afresh or transfer an existing character from the original Baldur's Gate. While sticking with a character who you know and love from the original is an appealing option, many gamers are likely to be tempted by the new character races and classes that have been introduced. All of the original races (human, elf, half-elf, halfling, dwarf and gnome) are on offer with the addition of the muscle bound half-orc. The new classes are the Sorceror, a "natural" magic user who can cast spells without needing to memorise them; the Barbarian, a powerful warrior; and the monk, a martial artist who avoids the use of weapons. As well as these new classes a whole set of subclasses have also been introduced in the form of class-specific kits. These include the avenger, a druid kit which enables the druid to adopt the form of creatures such as baby wyverns as well as granting the ability to use some mage spells; the wizard slayer, a warrior kit which grants the warrior special immunities to magic; and the undead hunter, a paladin kit for those who wish to smite zombies, vampires and their undead kin. Combining all this with the fact that the experience cap has been raised to a far greater level than its predecessor, Baldur's Gate 2 provides ample room for gamers to create a uniquely tailored character.

Click for enlargement

Of course, as well as the player-controlled protagonist there is room for up to five non-player characters (NPCs) to join your party. Some of these characters are familiar faces from Baldur's Gate, while others are new and interesting additions to the epic tale. Jaheira the Druid/Fighter and Minsc the Ranger both make an apperance early in the game -- and yes, Boo the miniature space hamster is back. The new NPC's include Yoshimo, a wily bounty hunter; Aerie, a winged elf mage; and Mazzy a powerful halfling paladin. Due to the variety of NPCs who may join your party you will often find yourself embroiled in arguments, conversations and even romantic encounters with your party members. Party management is an integral part of the game and can become a real challenge if you attempt to mix and match evil and good characters like Anomen, the righteous (and pompous) Paladin and Viconia the Drow (dark-elf) cleric.

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   Black Isle Studios




   Official Web Site

System Requirements:

  •  Windows 95/98
  •  233 MHz CPU
  •  32 MB RAM
  •  800 MB available hard drive space
  •  4x CD-ROM
  •  4 MB SVGA
  •  OpenGL-compatible 3-D accelerator
  •  Supports EAX Audio

Review System:

  •  Windows 98
  •  Intel Celeron 400 MHz
  •  128 MB RAM
  •  50x CD-ROM
  •  Guillemot Geforce 256 32 MB
  •  Soundblaster Live Value

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