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.