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Baldur's Gate II

Draw your daggers and spells, and let's have at her!

By Matt Prince


Baldur's Gate II

First, there was Dungeons and Dragons, and the people rejoiced. Then came the age of computers, and they rejoiced once more. Quite possibly one of the most promising convergances between the two is Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.


Borrowing from Final Fantasy?
Borrowing from Final Fantasy?

The game takes place following the end of the original Baldur's Gate, a landmark in the PC gaming field. Imprisoned, your main character awaits an uncertain future. Imoen, a friend from you past, frees you.


Character Sheet
Character Sheet

The creators have rectified some of the errors of the past. The game is designed to be much, much closer to the Second Edition AD&D rules than Baldur's Gate. Newly added are more ways to customize your character, including kits, or subclasses, and weapon styles. Kits allow you to "specialize" in specific traits, like the Wizardslayer kit for fighters that grants bonuses against spellcasters. Weapon styles cost weapon proficiency slots, but grant you bonuses and abilities like wielding two one-handed weapons.


Spellfight!
Spellfight!

More spells, monsters, and items have also been added. The new spells include 9th level wizard spells and 7th level clerical spells, the most powerful in the game. There are many much more difficult monsters to face, and insanely powerful artifacts of power to find.


Fighting a Beholder
Fighting a Beholder

The gameplay in Baldur's Gate II is very similar to that of Baldur's Gate. The game is in real time, but allows the player to pause at any time to change weapons, cast spells, or use items. Because of this, the game has more of a strategic side than other PC games such as Diablo II.


Shipboard battle
Shipboard battle

The plot is a combination of a linear "critical path", which is required to finish the game, and multiple smaller sub-quests that do not have to be accomplished, but grant more power to those players who do.


Rain of Ice
Rain of Ice

The graphics are in a 2D isometric view, reminiscent of the original. However, the interface has been overhauled, as well as slimmed down. Newly added is a full-screen mode, allowing for greater immersion.

All in all, the game is looking to be a great addition to any gamer's library. For those who call themselves "hardcore", BioWare and Black Isle Studios also made a "Collecter's Edition". This version includes a bonus CD with more quests, as well as a character available only on the CD. Look for both versions in stores this week.

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