When a transcendent level of BOTH Quantity AND Quality collide, you get Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, the great Magnum Opus of our time. One of the most revolutionary video-game series of all time, and THE most ground-breaking RPG saga ever. A perfect rendition of Dungeons and Dragons and one of the best gameplay designs in gaming history. A High fantasy setting and tale that rivals The Lord of the Rings. The template for every open world game that came after. Games that you thought were revolutionary, like TES Morrowind or GTA 3, were literally just 3D renditions of Baldur’s Gate 2’s world designed with perfect content-density. In this game, a sword features more character development and better voice acting than the entire Elder Scrolls series.
-Captured by Mind Flayers
-Find out What Happened to Montaron
-Find Proof of Mae’Var’s Treachery
-Gain the Services of Sir Sarles for the Temple
-Inside the Planar Sphere
-Investigate and Destroy the Cult of the Eyeless
-Investigate the Deaths in the Umar Hills
-Rescue Gerran’s Child from Firkraag
-Rescue Raelis and Haer’Dalis from the Planar Prison
-Seek Out and Investigate the Fallen Paladins
-Solve the Riddle in the Sewers
-Solve the ‘skinner’ Murders in the Bridge District
The above would be among the best RPG main stories ever, but they aren’t, they are SIDE quests! All for one game, one game that still stands in 2018 with a game world of unparalleled scope, atmosphere, and intrigue. Each of the above-mentioned quests takes hours, and there are dozens more that I didn’t even mention, but there’s always more to do, even after you finish them.
The massive scope of Baldur’s Gate 2 is decorated with mostly text-based dialogue (though the main story line is almost fully, and fabulously, voice acted). Despite featuring the best side-content in all of gaming’s history, the main story is still the best part of the game. Dialogue that represents the best writing the gaming industry has to offer. BioWare’s storytelling in this game hasn’t been matched for 17 years. Baldur’s Gate is not a story about saving the world, like countless other RPGs. Instead, it is a personal story about your character’s struggles with his own evil inheritance and corrupted lineage that has led to the people around him suffering because of your tainted blood.
But it features everything else we all love about the best BioWare games. BG2 Probably still stands as the best cast BioWare has written. 20 deep and intriguing, well developed characters make up the cast of NPCs you get to choose from to form your party of 6. Each of those party members will banter with each other, and will question your decisions, and sometimes your decisions will lead to them leaving you, or even trying to kill you. And if you manage to keep them all there’s a classic BioWare style quest that is unique to each companion, and will ultimately shape your relationship with them, for good or for bad.
There’s plenty complex gameplay that overlays a massive adventure here. 7 races, dozens of classes, and HUNDREDS of abilities and spells are all yours to experiment with as you clash with HUNDREDS of different kinds of enemies and monsters that represent some of the coolest beasts in Dungeons and Dragons, who all possess abilities and spells of the same complexity. Decorated with a fantastic inventory UI, THOUSANDS of epic weapons and other equipment to customize your party with, visually stunning spell effects and surprisingly immersive sound effects, this game still boasts the most epic RPG fights in the history of gaming. There’s always something new to learn about the combat, so this gameplay will never cease to engage and interest you.
You’ll find yourself in a dungeon, trying to rescue a poor man’s daughter from a dragon, but that dragon instantly butchers all of your tanky warriors as soon as you unpause. You’ll find yourself in an ancient ruin with a demon that is immune to all forms of attack. The challenges are endless in this game, and they rival Dark Souls, but they are equally rewarding as well. When you finally figure out how to kill that Dragon, his loot will turn you into a demi-god, which is good, because you will have to fight a God in the next fight.
The main quest features many more well-written characters besides the 20 NPCs that you get to choose. A quest that will take you on unforgettable adventures, not only through the Forgotten Realms, but through human emotion. Torture, imprisonment, war, death, suffering, betrayal, deceit, love, redemption, and atonement are all features in this wonderfully dark and gripping tale.
The mage Jon Irenicus, widely regarded as the best videogame villain of all time, tries to strip you of your powers, tortures you, and interrogates you on your abominable and inhuman nature. These atrocities will linger with you for the entire game, and often come up in strangely philosophical nightmares whenever you rest. Because of his simple identity as a fallen human being with reasonable insights about human nature and society, yet with an aura of pure evil, he reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker. He takes your friends from you, and he steals your very soul, and leads you on the most enthralling fantasy adventure that has ever been crafted, as you chase him through Elven forests, Catacombs full of vampires, alternate planes of existence, cities below the Ocean, Mage Asylums, Islands ruled by barbaric Pirates, treetop Elven cities, The Underdark, Drow cities, Beholder lairs, Mind Flayer cities, a lair of Dragon Demi-Gods, a city besieged by an army of Fire Giants, Gnomish Cities, the ancient prison of the Prince of Demons, and even to the Deepest circle of Hell. An assortment of locations and sights that encompass as many spectacles as every RPG from the last 18 years combined.
17 years later people are still playing this game, and the only ones who wouldn’t tell you it’s one of the best, if not THE best RPG of all time, are the ones who haven’t played it. It’s better late than never to change that. No other videogame has a combination of such a massive game world full of atmospheric detail and intrigue, combined with flawless and gripping writing, and extremely engaging and rewarding gameplay. And along with everything else, this games soundtrack will stick with you for the rest of your life, along with many of the characters, and many of the events.
If you call yourself a gamer, you must play this game. Period. You will thank me after you finish crying through the ending cut-scene for the Throne of Bhaal DLC