Gate 2 - Shadows of Amn
Interplay £29.99 PC CD-ROM Out Now
Pentium 2 266MHz
64MB of RAM
800MB Hard Drive Space
After preventing Bhaal from returning to the Forgotten Realms and thwarting Sarevok it was always going to be difficult. At the Start of the Baldur's Gate 2 we find our hero locked in a Dungeon with Minsc and Jaheira. Right from the word go the action is thick and fast. Imoen sneakes into the dungeon and frees you now all you have to do is free the others and get out of here. Or is it? BG2 has to be one of the finest pieces of gaming software ever written. RPG fans will have already bought it months ago but for anyone that thinks that BG2 is for 'beardy-weirdy' types then think again.
The best description you can give of BG2 is that it if you can imagine a George Lucas motion picture extravaganza lasting for between 150-200 hours (instead of 2) then you would get a fair picture of what BG2 is like. If you've played any of the previous games from Black Isle/Interplay then you know how good the interface is in these games. You begin with your primary character (which can be imported from Baldur's Gate) and as the game progresses you come across other characters, some of whom can join your party (of up to 6) if you so desire. The members of your party are all your own choice and this is really one of the core parts of BG2's strategy. To unlock doors and detect traps you need a thief and if your character isn't a thief and you're at the part of the game where Imoen has been captured (oops! let that slip) then you could be in a mess. I have just mentioned the abilities of your character. In BG2 when setting up your character there are a multitude of character kits to choose from. These range from Paladin to fighter (many different types) to wizard etc. etc.. The selection of your character's class may be limited by the race you are. Humans pretty much have the full range to choose from but this is not the case for dwarves or elves who are limited in their choice of character class. In case you are wondering the battles are in real time but the game can be set to auto-pause at numerous points or you can pause the game yourself, give instructions, then unpause to carry them out.
thumbnails for the big picture.
The graphics of BG2 are fantastic and you can even run the game in 800x600 with the unofficial option to run at far greater resolutions. The idea of the game at 1600x1200 may seen great but believe me you going to need a massive monitor to see more than insect type characters on your screen. There is also the option to have 3d acceleration in the game to and this helps beautify the spells and other graphical niceties. Speaking of spells there are now around 300 in the game. The cap for experience point cap has been siginificantly raised too so far in fact that most people will not hit the upper level. The interface can now be hidden with a click of the 'H' key to enable full screen viewing but it is not intrusive and you will probably want to keep it anyway. Deaf gamers will delight at the quality of text in this game. Everything is subtitled apart from a little character conversation (that is not important to the gameplay). The config program for the game is a marvel and all the games functions can be bound to any key that you so desire. The script for past conversations can be recalled at any time so you never loose track of whats going on.
As you may have noticed this review has been, so far, based on the 'normal' BG2 and this is so suppossed to be about the Collectors' Edition. So what's extra then? The extra items are as follows:
Ok so the soundtrack CD may not be of much use to us but the rest of the items certainly are. You must also remember that the Collectors' Edition is exactly the same price as the regular BG2 so if you haven't bought the game yet then it certainly is worth opting for the Collectors' Edition. All in all the game is pretty much perfect and should be enjoyed by all RPG enthusiasts or not.
Overall Game Rating: 9.8/10 An Incredible game in an incredible package.
Quality of text: 10/10 Perfect. What more can I say.
Graphics: 9/10 The graphics are very good.
Interface: 10/10 The best interface of any game I've seen.
Gameplay:10/10 Immaculate. Other games will disappoint you after this.