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GameBanshee Reviews Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Review - posted by Infinitron on Sun 24 November 2013, 00:24:34Tags: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn; Beamdog; Eric Schwarz
The ever-diligent Eric "sea" Schwartz has written a review of Beamdog's Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition for GameBanshee. Is it an improvement over its predecessor? The answer, as expected, is "yes, but...". For example, here's his description of the game's new quests:
When it comes to combat, much of the encounter design has been radically improved over the first game's re-release, and the challenge level has been upped significantly. It feels weird to say, but some of the most enjoyable, tactically demanding fights I had while playing through Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition were actually from the brand-new areas and quests. This is in stark contrast to the added combat in Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, which was pitifully easy and just plain boring, with few real tactics required, so Beamdog have most definitely improved here.
I did say above that the new content is still a mixed bag, and there are definitely gripes to make. For example, Hexxat's character, while a worthy addition to the game, occupies probably the most dull of all the character storylines, and after her little twist there isn't much to keep up interest. Some of the side-quests are also rather weak - ones associated with Neera's story in particular, including hunting down stray cats in a forest, and searching crates for a little girl's lost brooch, are pretty much blatant filler, and aren't any more fun than they sound on paper.
I also feel that Beamdog's team lacks some of the class and charm in the writing department compared to millennium-era BioWare. I found that sometimes the tone and consistency was all over the place - lots of fourth-wall-breaking comments, strange anachronisms, humor awkwardly juxtaposed with more serious events, and so on. And, frankly, I despise Neera, whose character is not much more than a blatant Manic Pixie Dream Girl fan-service stereotype, and half of whose lines seem were written with the intent of starting new "go for the eyes!"-esque memes. It's not that the writing is bad, in fact, far from it, but it often doesn't fit with the original content as well as it should.
There's one more thing to consider - at $25 USD, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition is now more than twice the price of the complete edition of the original release commonly available at web sites like GOG and GamersGate. At $20, that price seems pretty fair, but $25, while realistically not that much more money, still feels a bit hard to justify, especially if you have already played Baldur's Gate II before. There are plenty of excellent new RPGs out today that can easily be had for that price or even less, as well.
So, with all that said, my conclusions about Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition are probably not that surprising: the original game's still as good as ever, the new content is nice to have but isn't really necessary, the fixes and improvements are offset by the new bugs and crashes, and the price hard to justify paying for those who already own the game and are comfortable installing a few mods. Beamdog have won back some of my lost faith by bringing out a much more polished and higher-quality product this time around, but I still have my doubts whether the studio has it in itself to produce a game of its own at this rate, as seems to be the logical trajectory the studio's headed in. I suppose we'll find out in the coming months whether the team is content to keep re-releasing old Infinity Engine games, or ends up doing something new.