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Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn By John "Award" Del Percio, November 11, 2000
Developer :BioWare
Publisher :Interplay/Black Isle
Release Date :Late October 2000
Demo Available : No
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

The Way it Should Have Been

Believe it or not, Baldur's Gate was not perfect. Sure, it fooled me, too. I was fooled up until I played Baldur's Gate II and realized how the game should have been. You see, the graphics in Baldur's Gate II are simply superior. Yes, I know it's all the Infinity Engine, but you have not seen Infinity until you've seen it in OpenGL. Not only are the 2D textures of a higher color-depth in BG2, not only can you run the game at a far higher resolution, and not only can you hide your interface giving a far more immersive experience, but all spells can be rendered in OpenGL, giving them an extremely impressive translucency and realistic appearance.

What sort of temple IS this?
Walkin' on Waukeen
The beauty of the City of Coin
The fun of an adventurer

The items are far better as well. In Baldur's Gate, it took a very long time to find any decent weapons or spells. In Baldur's Gate II, they seem to be falling all over you, most enemies drop useful items or spells, and you keep upgrading beyond where you thought it possible to upgrade before. You find yourself rather well equipped to handle anyone, or anything. Even the quests are far more well organized. In BG1, many quests just seemed to be random. You'd find someone along your travels that asks you to go and get something for them. In BG2, the entire game focuses around the quests, quests which have intricate pieces to the grand puzzle of the storyline woven into them. You want to play through all the quests, and mind you, there are a lot.

One thing people may remember me complaining about in my preview of BG2 is that it is so darn difficult. It seems that BioWare has discovered the same thing, and fixed the game the way it should have been all along. There are now five difficulty levels. The hardest being that monsters give double damage, the next hardest being the Baldur's Gate I rules (notice that they are on the harder side of things?) The settings get gradually lesser until the easiest setting. In the easiest setting, monsters to half of normal damage, characters can't die permanently, you still get full experience points (previously in the skill system, if you made it easier, you also lost experience, making it just as difficult as before, since you're barely getting more powerful), and you can't fail learning a spell. Talk about fun, now everyone can play the game without being a D&D expert.

The Prominade
Guess who's coming to dinner...
What a lovely...err..portal
Just had to touch the tomb, didn't you?

Yet another perk of BG2 is the character trading system. Many quests require a certain new character to join your party. This means the best way to play the game is to pick the mainstay of your party, and rotate the last character around on a per-quest basis. The nice thing is that when you leave a character behind, you can give them orders to stay where they are, or to meet you at a specific meeting place, normally the Copper Corronet, the Inn in the Athkatla slums. Characters also have far more personality than they used to, as well. They begin dialogs randomly, they interact with a consistent personality when speaking to different people they can relate to, and may even help or hinder your negotiations with NPC's (Non-Player Characters.) You really can feel as though you're adventuring with them.

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