II: Throne of Bhaal (Expansion Pack)
treating PC gamers to arguably some of the best role-playing of their
lives (at least that didn't involve a French Maid's uniform) the
Baldur's Gate series draws to a close with the expansion pack to
Baldur's Gate II. Throne of Bhaal does exactly as it should in
fulfilling its expansion pack duties admirably as it throws countless
new magic goodies, new abilities, and a gargantuan leap in the
experience points cap...oh, it brings the whole over-arching plot of the
last three years to a close too. It's a splendid tip of the hat as
the series bows out.
First off we
might as well get the complaints out of the way. Love it or hate
it, or begrudgingly accept it, the Infinity Engine comes part and parcel
with the Baldur's Gate series. The often questionable, more often
frustrating, pathfinding is still around, as is the need to pause often
when firing off spells and what not. These along with the other
idiosyncrasies of the engine are here in all their damnable glory still.
However, if you've tolerated them this long I'm sure you can survive one
last go 'round with it.
Throne of Bhaal
takes place a short time after the conflict with our friend Jon Irenicus.
You find out that you're not the only Child of Bhaal on the block, and
that it turns out there are a whole bunch of them and a number of those
have gone to war against one another so to gather all of the power for
themselves so that they may harness it and achieve the strength of their
father. Of course you go down with your party to investigate for
yourselves just what's going on and you soon find yourself swept into
these events. Guess you have to be in it to win it if you want to
be the new god of murder...
The new goodies
and abilities are a big part in enhancing the whole experience.
There are a number of great new weapons, armor and such to be had in
your journeys, but it's the high-level abilities that'll have you really
oooing and ahhing. Whether it's deathblows or cataclysmic spells
these new abilities pack a huge wallop. However it should be noted
that a number of the enemies in this game are insanely strong so of
course they'll be able to take a real beating too. Nonetheless
these new abilities that you can get do a good job of filling the ol'
super attack quotient.
of the expansion pack got a lopsided face lift. On the one hand
the visuals haven't changed a bit. While some may whine and
complain that the engine is getting old, any changes now would ruin the
continuity of the game. The one problem that came up with the
game's graphics is that there is periodic slowdown. When getting
into gigantic battles where you face off against a few dozen enemies at
once things can get choppy on an older computer, but it's multiple
flashy spell effects that really do in the frame rate. Consider
yourselves warned. The music is amazing here too as there are all
new orchestrated tracks to soak in and they are of an absolutely
incredible caliber. There are even some spiffy new lines for the
old characters as well as a bunch of new voice acting, all very good.
important to note that there are a number of additions now to the
original Baldur's Gate II. New items, some aesthetic tweaking (why
Waukeen's Promenade echoes like a public bathroom is beyond me), and
most importantly the addition of Watcher's Keep, a massive tower with
all manner of interesting and powerful monsters to destroy and rewards
to reap. A very worthwhile romp. A very interesting addition
is the Wild Mage who is a magic user with unpredictable abilities.
Instead of learning to cast spells for years until reaching a level of
master they summon pure magic and try and mold it into a spell.
Sometimes it works, but sometimes it can go terribly wrong. A fun
diversion, this character class, in the very least.
Throne of Bhaal
does a very good job of drawing the Baldur's Gate series to a close.
The story is tight, the gameplay and flow of the game is familiar, but
still an improvement over past offerings, and there is more goodies than
you can shake a stick at this time too. Good, good stuff.
BALDUR'S GATE II: Shadow's of Amn IN ORDER TO PLAY THRONE OF BHAAL EXPANSION PACK.
Reviewed by Mr.