Baldur's Gate 2 Created the Modern RPG Genre

BG2 genre

Though Beamdog have gone to incredible lengths to improve the game engine, re-writing substantial parts of the game code, fundamentally this is still a 20+ year old game engine. Do not expect shiny modern graphics. If this is a must-have for you then look elsewhere, though you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice. Some parts of the game have not aged well at all. The player journal / quest tracker in particular is horrible and primitive beyond belief. Still, one must remember that this is by now a very old game and in terms of quest journals, this was literally one of the first. Though the party AI is genuinely excellent and is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a CRPG, something that could never have been said about the original, AI route finding remains somewhat suspect. This can occasionally lead to frustrating incidents where a party member wanders alone in to a room full of enemies because the AI decided to take the ‘scenic route’ to where you wanted them to be. Though the quality of the voice acting is excellent, the quality of the actual audio recordings leaves much to be desired by current standards.

So why then is Baldurs Gate 2 so lauded, so loved, so admired by the fans? The story and quality of the writing. BG2 really does feature a tale which is epic in every sense of the word. Some of the very best plot and story writing in the entire history of computer gaming is to be found here. This is no exaggeration, no hype. The story has to be played to be believed. Along side Planescape Torment the quality of the story & writing in BG2 is the standard against which all other games should be judged.

It’s also worth noting that Beamdog have introduced vast numbers of ‘quality of life’ improvements over the original game, all of which serve to make playing the Enhanced Edition a more pleasant experience. Full marks there. One last point to make is that the story of BG2 is much darker than that of the original game, with some pretty adult (I’m not referring to sex here) themes, despite the generally ‘heroic’ nature of the story. As such BG2 probably isn’t suitable for young children. The enhanced edition of BG1 is much more suitable for young players.

The original Baldurs Gate 2 that Bioware created 20 years ago is literally the standard by which others are judged in terms of story and quality of writing. Beamdog have gone to great lengths to bring us a version of the game that works on modern systems and that’s been updated as far as possible, and are very much worthy of praise for their efforts.

Bottom line: if you enjoy CRPGs you must play through this game at least once. Better still, play through the enhanced edition of the original Baldurs Gate then play through BG2. You’ll never forget the experience.