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Baldur's Gate II Collection

Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Bioware
Media: CD/5
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

For a CRPG that was created 3 years ago, Baldur's Gate II Collection holds up very well in the graphics and sound departments. The graphics are 2D sprites that are not particularly detailed, but suit the purpose of the game just fine. Each race has a different sprite, as well as one for both male and females of the races. Armor and weapons are shown on the 2D sprite as they are equipped. This can make for many different looking characters. The environments are big and very detailed, with several little animations thrown in to make everything look a little more realistic. Many of the temples in the game use this effect. It looks really good. Trust me.

The game also excels in the sound department. Many of the in-game musical scores give you that sense of (caution: made up word ahead) 'epicness.' It reminds me, to some degree, of movies like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings where the music really coincides well with the material that is being presented. Sound effects are nicely done, with everything a player would expect to find in a medieval RPG. There is also plenty of spoken dialogue with great voice actors. Just wait until you hear the main villain of Shadows of Amn; you'll hate him too.


As good as it gets. No really. I'm not lying here. I must have played through the entire Baldur's Gate II series at least five times. Each time, I get a new and unique experience. And here's why.

Let's start with the story. This game is a sequel to the first Baldur's Gate, which ended on the fact that you were a descendant of the dead god, Bhaal. This sequel builds on that fact, giving you reasons why certain things are happening to you. In normal RPG fare, there are really no reasons for anyone to give your character jobs when he/she is only first level and has yet to make a name for themselves. In this game, your character starts at a pretty high level that depends on your class, and already has made many friends and foes throughout their first journey. You can create your character from scratch, or import one from the previous Baldur's Gate. Each character can have different experiences playing the game, even though the story is fairly linear. It is linear enough to give the player a sense of direction, without stopping the player's sense of exploration. The combat is in real-time, with the ability to pause at any time to collect your thoughts. It is a really nice combat system that allows you to be strategic without losing any of the fierceness of real-time combat. You can also choose from prefabricated scripts for you and your party members, to allow them to react to certain situations.

Ahhh, the party members. These guys and girls are not just mindless zombies that follow your every order, nor are they simply pack-mules. These party members hold conversations with you as well as the other members of the group; if you are not doing things to their specifications (i.e. killing people while a paladin is in your party) they will leave, and they will sometimes get into arguments with other party members and fight it out! This is extremely entertaining because each character normally has many different sub quests that really help to flesh out the story as well as the NPC's themselves. At several crucial moments of the game, you find yourself actually feeling for these characters, and taking up for them on several occasions.

This adds enormously to the immersion factor of the game. You feel like an important part of this world that you helped to create, and it feels like your decisions about whether or not to do certain things will really affect something. That is what gaming is all about. For that brief playtime, I felt as if I was the main character in a book or a movie that I could control. For every time I went back through the game, I was rewriting the book with a different main character and different supporting characters. Even though the story was technically the same each time, the way that the story was experienced was different each time.


The Dungeons and Dragons rules take some getting used to. When I started playing the game, I had no clue what a 'saving throw' was or what 'AC' stood for. I learned eventually, just from playing the game, how all the rules worked. I was so enthralled with the actual gameplay, however, that I didn't even realize I knew what 'AC' stood for (Armor Class). The dungeons and puzzles are not hard at all, but they do leave you with a constant sense of progression. The battles can get really hard if you do not understand much of the rules, but once you get used to the strategy, you'll be hacking off orc melons in no time.

Game Mechanics:

The Game runs off of the Bioware Infinity Engine. It has a very straightforward, point and click interface. The character creation system allows for many different classes (like Dungeons and Dragons normally does), but Bioware also threw in class 'kits.' These kits are subclasses of the various classes. A Rogue, for example, has the Assassin kit, which improves the Rogue in some areas, but also gives him more weaknesses in one area. It's really more of a player preference than anything else.

Even though it has been three years since this game was released, Baldur's Gate II is still the best RPG that anyone could buy for their money, in my opinion. If you consider yourself an RPG fan, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try. You will not be disappointed.

-Vaxeks, GameVortex Communications
AKA Joshua Benedetto

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium II 233 Mhz, 32 MB ram, 1.2 GB hard drive, 4 Mb Video Card, 4x Cd Rom Drive, keyboard, mouse.

Test System:

P III 700 Mhz, 128 MB Ram, 27 GB hard Drive, Geforce 2 video card, keyboard, mouse.

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