Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition Review

There are many RPG games out today that can keep you occupied for tens, sometimes even hundreds of hours.  However, you’d be hard pressed to find the game that gives as much as Baldur’s Gate II: The Enhanced Edition.  You could even argue that there is no game today that reaches the heights that this game achieves.  Set in a world of epic high fantasy , complete with monsters, mages, knights, and many more (I could go on), this game could quite possibly cost you tens to hundreds of hours to complete.  Its in-depth gameplay elements, and an expansive story, Baldur’s Gate II: The Enhanced Edition is every bit the game its original was and more.

The gameplay in this game is so expansive.  Such is its depth.  It boasts some new features such as a new interface to support higher resolutions as well as the widescreen display.  One of the first tasks that will be handed to you as you start playing the game are the roles each of your characters play.  You start out with two characters, but your roster expands as you play throughout the game.  However, with the starting two characters, you already have a range of options in how you will customize them, strength and abilities being chief among your considerations in how you develop them.  Also determining their role in you group will also have to be paramount in how you choose to develop your character.  Will he/she be a fighter, paladin, mage or etc.?  Will he/she be for be a healer or an attacker?  Such are the considerations you will have to make at all times.

Another big part of the gameplay is the storytelling.  Some of today’s games that have multiple endings usually give you very little choice in ending or have very few choices that inform the ending (i.e. Mass Effect).  Of course, there are a few exceptions (i.e. Heavy Rain).  However, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition falls into a category all its own.  There are so many decisions you have to make and so many potential endings that you’ll actually feel that the decisions you make throughout the course of the game actually does inform the ending rather than something like you’re character alignment or a single decision informing the ending you experience.  Even the dialogue options are more numerous than the average RPG game you get today such that arriving at the ending will make you want to play the game over just so you could see if you can achieve a different kind of ending.

The graphics in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition have gone up a tick as well.  Higher resolutions mean a less pixelated experience.  Thus, all the options are clear from where your characters are heading to what dialogue options you choose or what commands you’re about to give your character.  Also, a wider screen gives players a little more information about their environment as opposed to the full screen pixelated resolution that came before.  As with all upgraded resolutions, it’s like looking at a game with new eyes.  And while the Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is not totally different, for today’s gamers it will be something which they will see with new eyes.  Also, one thing the Enhanced Edition has going for it is colors.  Spells and attacks occur in greater contrast to their environments such that action occurs in such an aesthetically pleasing way to the eyes.

There’s not much the way in of innovation in terms of sound.  Monsters and spells have their appropriate sounds (i.e. roars, explosions, etc.).  It would probably make an epic experience if played in surround sound.

As I’ve mentioned before, the sheer depth of the game easily puts the length of this game in the ballpark of hundreds of hours.  This isn’t the kind of game that you’ll be able complete in a weekend or even a week to play.  With the game’s epic scale, it will easily occupy a couple of weeks whether you’re budgeting your time with work or school or if you spend all your off time playing this game.  The potential for replayability is infinite.  With the amount of choices you’ll have to make between character and party customization and decisions you’ll have to make throughout the game’s story, as well as multiple endings, this game is expansive enough to keep you coming back and making different choices in order to achieve a different ending.

The story is pretty expansive.  It is an epic high fantasy tale worthy of Lord of the Rings.  The Enhanced edition collects the main campaign, Shadows of Amn, as well as its expansions, Throne of Bhaal and The Black Pits II: Gladiators of Thay.  The main story begins in Shadows of Amn and continues through Throne of Bhaal.  The Black Pits II: Gladiators of Thay seems to be its own standalone story.  However, each is fraught with its own array of complex events which you will navigate through ensuring that you won’t make the same decision  each playthrough and each resulting ending you achieve may be different from the last.  The plot remains largely unchanged from the original.  Just a few new side quests and a new recruitable character exclusive to this version make this game different from the original.

Not many negatives to point out in this game.  The only negative that I was able to see in this game is the length and replayability.  With such depth and expansion, what’s ensured is that those who have played this game before will probably spend more time playing this version because of all the added content.  If you’re the type that spends hours and hours playing through RPGs, you’ll be spending a vastly larger amount of time playing through this game.  It is indeed so much fun that it is too much fun.

There’s just so much to do in Baldur’s Gate II.  That being the case, there’s that much more to do in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.  From character customization to party customization, from fighting enemies to questing to making one of numerous choices that affect the course of the story, this game is probably one of the most expansive experiences in games today short of MMOs.  PC gamers looking for an expansive and in-depth experience need look no further.  Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is here for you.

Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
Platform: PC (reviewed), Mac, iOS
Genre: RPG
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Developer: Overhaul Games
Publisher: Beamdog
ESRB Rating: M, 12+ for iOS
MSRP: $24.95 (PC, Mac); $14.99 (iOS)


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