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Baldur's Gate II

Baldur's Gate IIIt has been a month at least since I last wrote for Home-Q. I must apologize but at the same time blame everything on my friend Mark for lending me Baldur's Gate II.

Baldur's Gate II is the best RPG for the PC I have ever played. There. If you have the money and you like RPGs and you are willing to lose at least week of your life, get a copy.

I've never reviewed a PC game before this because I have always been a console gamer. I don't like the hassle tweaking my PC to get the best performance for a game. Besides it gets in the way of work. With a console the gaming experience is hassle-free. Consoles also have a monopoly on Japanese RPGs.

American RPGs have traditionally been devoid of any plot beyond kill everything, level up, and find the big final boss. Their only perk is their customizable character creation. Of course having a unique character means it may not be suited for the game's story. Japanese RPGs on the other hand are usually unforgettable epics with unforgettable characters. The Final Fantasy series are a prime example.

Imagine my surprise with Baldur's Gate II. The graphics and gameplay were carried over from the original BG. The player controls a band of adventurers led by a fully customizable main character. The game is set in the Forgotten Realms and 2nd edition ADND rules apply. The interface is simple enough however for anyone to understand. Click on your character then point to anything or anyone you want to interact with.

The game world is richly detailed. The characters can talk to anyone and kill anyone. They can be the bad guys. They can even just stand around in a tavern drinking and doing nothing.

The quests are challenging and at times incredibly imaginative. There are no simple find an item or kill a bad guy quest in this game.

Like the first game the battles fought realistically in real time. Directing characters is simple by pausing the game and telling the characters what to attack, what spell to cast and what it would target.

What this sequel inherited from the original is enough to make it a good game. The biggest improvement however was enough to make it again the best RPG for the PC I have ever played. The game's story is unforgettable. The first game was predictable all throughout finding your father's murderer who turns out to be your brother. I've seen soap operas with more imagination than that.

Baldur's Gate II is a search for a friend that becomes a search for a soul. The villain is Jon Irenicus whose words in the final battle will draw out sympathy even if it took weeks (in the real world) to hunt him down.

I cannot say anything more than that lest I spoil one of the best gaming experiences ever.

October 2001


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