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 Home -> Previews -> Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn By John "Award" Del Percio, August 23, 2000
Developer :Bioware
Publisher :Interplay
Release Date :3rd Quarter (poss. September)
Demo Available : No
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

In absolute perfect timing, Interplay posted a press site yesterday, containing comparisons between Baldur's Gate, and Baldur's Gate II graphics. When I wrote the rest of the preview, I mentioned the graphics improvements in BG2. Not until I saw these comparisons next to each other, though, did I truly realize how vast a difference it was. Mirrored here, for the last page of the preview, is the Interplay press site with the comparative pictures. This should illustrate a bit better what I was attempting to say about the graphics. This also gives you a few more screenshots to drool over <g>. Enjoy!

One of the many improvements made to Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn was to the graphics of the game. Not only has the general background art quality improved but all graphical effects including spells, creatures and background animations has, as well. Our art team has learned many "tricks" to take advantage of the engine, and the overall quality of the game has improved because of this.

One of the most spectacular improvements to the look of the game was to the background images. The detail level has risen to a whole new level. Jungle areas now have lush ferns, vines, shrubs and mushrooms etc. Tons of detail in the game world that will really grab the player and immerse them, adding to quality of game play. Many sources were used as reference when creating these areas. Some of the artists were walking through the river valley here in Edmonton, looking at the trees and undergrowth. You can imagine them coming back all muddy with twigs in their cloths from doing "research". Because of the rich diversity that BG2 has in regards to the backgrounds much imagination had to be used. Places such as the Underdark, Hell, the Astral Plane, elven cities and mind flayer layers all had to be made, with little or no direction from official source material. This made creating BG2 background art very fresh and exciting for everyone involved, and it shows in the quality of the art.

Baldur's Gate I Backgrounds
Baldur's Gate II Backgrounds

We added over 150 new spells in BG2 and they all have new effects. We also re-did the majority of the original BG1 spells as well. Add in the fact that we added 3d card support, with specific 3d spell animation version of the art you will see that the whole spell side of the game received a major overhaul. New 3d Studio Max plug-ins and new techniques learned from other projects such as MDK2 really helped to "up the ante" when it came to particle effects and other effects used to create spells. Source materials have very little direction for what spells actually "look" like so we had a lot of freedom when creating spells. You may think that after our 300th spell we would be running out of ideas, you'd be wrong. We actually had to pull back the number of spells and spell effects, otherwise the game would be shipping sometime in 2005 =).

Baldur's Gate I Spells
Baldur's Gate II Spells

We have also spent more time on the background animations. Background animations can be anything from water lapping up on a beach, to a demonic machine that huffs and lurches in the background. We have a specific team of people that run through the game and identify things that look like "they should be animating" and we do it. This adds so much to the world and the "realism" of the game itself. Because of engine improvements we can now have much bigger animations in the game. This means whole sections of areas can be animated. Huge machines, thundering waterfalls and anything else that our artists can dream up, we can now animate.

Baldur's Gate I Monsters
Baldur's Gate II Monsters

We have doubled the amount of monsters that exist in the game from what was in BG1. At last count there was something like 230 monsters types with over 120 unique monster models. This does not include any townsfolk, or humanoid creatures such as evil clerics etc. In total there are literally thousands of creatures in the game. We have changed some of the underlying code to support VERY large monsters, as a matter of fact some are so big you have to scroll the screen to see them all. We will be letting out a bit more information about these in the coming weeks.

So, in summation, the world of Baldur's Gate series has evolved a lot from the original Baldur's Gate. In depth, size and in quality the graphical elements will genuinely make playing BG2 a more immersive and engrossing experience.

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