I have not played the first game in the series, < i>King's Bounty: The Legend, so I can't tell you how the two compare. But I can tell you that the graphics are quite beautiful. My laptop is at the bare minimum of 128 MB, but it still wasn't so slow that it was unplayable. Even with the minimum graphics card, the game still looks very beautiful. The only problem with the slower graphics card is that it does run a bit choppy. The battles ran a lot slower than I would have liked, but it is very good to know that you can play with a less powerful video card.
As for the characters, you really don't get much choice in what you look like. You will always play as Princess Amelie, but what you look like depends on what character class you choose. The Warrior is a redhead, the Paladin is a blonde, and the Mage is a dark brunette. Each of them has a different outfit as well. You do get to choose what your emblem looks like, and there are a lot of different choices for emblems. I can bet that you will find something that appeals to you. As for the rest of the characters, I was quite pleased with the variety of the characters. There are several different type of troops that you can recruit into your army and it's easy on the battlefield to tell which is which just by the way they look, which makes it quite a bit easier to decide who to use to do what!
The background music is typical of an RPG. It is not overly distracting, but also not necessary if you want to listen to something else while playing. You do get different sound effects in battle that help you tell what is going on. In my case, the sounds came before the graphics since my graphics were slow, so I knew what was going to happen before it did just by listening.