Baldur's Gate II was the sequel to the critically acclaimed cRPG Baldur's Gate. It was released 2 years after the first game and brought the player once again into the world of the Forgotten Realms. Using the 2nd edition rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the game provided the player with sophisticated party management, a vast and magical world with deep and interesting lore and intense, tactical action. BG II received even more critical acclaim and is regarded along with its precursor as an important and influential cRPG that set the standard for other RPGs to meet for many years to come.
15 years later Overhaul Games releases Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, a remake of the original Baldur's Gate which features numerous bug-fixes, new characters, new areas and more. If you'd like to know what we think about it, I would encourage you to read our Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition review.
After the release of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Overhaul Games only saw fit to give the sequel the same modern-day makeover it's predecessor had. Thus with improvements and new features, it's time to delve into the world of the Forgotten Realms once more with Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition.
A year has passed since the events at the Sword Coast. You and your friends are taken captive and are subjected to brutal experiments by the maniacal wizard Irenicus. You fight your way to freedom and from there, your epic adventure begins. However, you soon discover that something sinister has awoken inside you, temping you to embrace a dark and evil power. Will you resist its alluring plea and fight for truth and justice, forging your destiny to become a hero of the people of Amn? Or will you succumb to the darkness within you, wreaking havoc upon the land and ascend to godhood?
The gameplay is identical to the first BG and the original BG II. After you create your character or import your character from the previous game, you'll be fighting your way out of your prison where you and your friends are being tortured and soon enough, you'll be exploring the world of the Forgotten Realms once more. You'll explore vast landscapes, interact with many NPCs, carry out quests, obtain better equipment and weapons, learn powerful magic and fight many powerful and vicious enemies. You'll order your party to attack with melee or magic and use battle formations to gain an edge over the enemy. Since BG II: EE uses the 2nd edition rules of D & D, careful planning beforehand and cunning tactics during battle are necessary if you want to come out victorious. It's a very challenging game and you can't just charge in and spam attacks hoping you'll get lucky and hit something. D & D has a very strict ruleset, thus utilizing your class in the correct manner with appropriate weapons and spells will have you mowing down hoards of enemies with ease.
Baldur's Gate is a wonderfully written fantasy tale set in the vast and exciting world of the Forgotten Realms. Your journey weaves a tale of intrigue, drama and romance. The characters are complex with colourful personalities and will fight with you to the very end no matter what happens. Your choices will reflect what happens in the game drastically and it's you who will determine the conclusion of your quest. Will you save the land of Amn, or will you bring it to darkness?
Much like the enhanced version of the first BG, BG II: EE comes with many improvements over its original counterpart. Improvements include widescreen support, an improved UI, new characters and bugfixes. The new characters: Rasaad Yn Bashir, Neera and Dorn Il-Khan from the enhanced version of the first game have returned to continue their quest with you, along with one new character: Hexxat, a mysterious thief who doesn't seem trustworthy. Multiplayer is improved once again and allows both matchmaking and cross-platform play, meaning you can play with your friends even if they are playing this on PC, iOS, OS X or Android. The Black Pitt makes a return and has you battling a gauntlet of increasingly tough enemies until there's none left. There's not much narrative regarding the Black Pitt, but it's good fun to just jump in and beat the crap out of bad guys.
The game's visuals have not only been enhanced with widescreen support, but the explorable areas have be re-mastered and re-done, making areas much more detailed, vibrant and atmospheric which helps make a game that was released 13 years ago hold up rather well today. The musical score composed by Michael Hoeing sets the mood for battle and adventure with loud and rousing musical numbers. The voice acting is once again top-notch with the actors fully assuming their characters and battle sounds resonate gut-wrenching clashes of steel and frighteningly loud blasts of magic.
BG II: EE is immense in scope and will make your journey through the world of Amn a very long and exciting one. The base game along with it's expansion pack: Throne of Bhall offer hundreds of hours of gameplay, with quests and battles galore. They're also definitely worth another play once you've beaten them. You can play as another class and another race, while making different decisions in the game with results that differ from your last playthrough. Bringing friends along with you in your travels with multiplayer. Have a few more bouts in the Black Pit with different tactics for more challenge and variation. The game also has mod support and the community will be able to bring their own ideas to the world of BG II: EE.
The enhanced versions of the Baldur's Gate games will no doubt bring new players into the world of Baldur's Gate and provide some wholesome RPG entertainment. Nevertheless there were problems with the enhanced edition of the first game which prevented it from being a true revival of a classic title and unfortunately, some of those problems seem to be present in the enhanced version of the sequel.
If you already own the original BG II, then there really isn't much point in buying the enhanced edition. While it's true that this version includes many new fixes and enhancements, the gameplay is relatively the exact same thing and the changes aren't really that big of a deal. The original BG II has a dedicated modding community and they've made mods which provide just as many improvements and new content as the new version, so if you're already using those mods for the original, then you're not really missing much.
The BG games are known for their notoriously high difficultly and steep learning curve. Most video games based off D & D have never been exactly user friendly. BG and BG II have always assumed that players know about the rules of D & D, thus new players will have trouble getting used to the rule-set which is very strict and penalises you heavily if your party's setup isn't what the rules expect.
Even after so long, Overhaul Games has proven once again that the Baldur's Gate games have still got what it takes to provide the player with a challenging, exciting and epic RPG adventure. This remake isn't a huge renovation of the original and many of the improvements aren't very significant, but this is a fine effort to bring a highly acclaimed classic title into the current generation. If you want a challenging and exciting RPG with a plethora of things to do, then grab Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition and see for yourself why this series has been held in such high regard.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PC version of Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition provided by Beamdog and Atari.