Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn Enhanced Edition is a great finish to the Baldur’s Gate series, excellently done and fun to play. It took much longer than I expected to complete and that is a wonderful thing. Compared to its predecessor, this game is significantly longer and more in depth, and that makes it so much more enjoyable. Even without a comparison it is a wonderful game to play. Don’t get me wrong, it still has issues of its own mostly related to how old the game is. Remember that this game is 19 years old and suffers from those limitations and the requirements allowed at that time.
Released initially in September 2000, Enhanced Edition was released for PC’s in November 2013 and finally for consoles in October 2019. It’s been a long journey, but it has been a fantastic one with a lot of play time. Unlike Baldur’s Gate, I did not own this one prior to this review and have never played it prior to this. The Enhanced Edition contains the original release of Shadows of Amn, as well as the expansion Throne of Bhaal. Beamdog also included a follow up with The Black Pit II which is basically a pit-fight setup with no real story line for someone who wants to hack and slash or to see how various classes perform.
Between Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, I preferred Baldur’s Gate II. This stems from two different pieces of the game. First that I felt the game- play itself, from quests and divergence in story line options was more developed and had more options. Second, it involved higher level characters. You start at level 7 in this game, allowing you to reach the higher levels of power within the game for all characters.
The graphics as expected are not any comparison to what we normally see today. You can see a slight difference between this and Baldur’s Gate I, but it’s not a huge leap forward, and it’s not fancy or going to break any records. What this game plays on is a love of D&D and challenges your choices moving forward. Admittedly, I have loved D&D since I was introduced to it by a good friend about 30 years ago.
It still has the 2D paper doll movement style on the flat maps, which sometimes makes cross-map movement difficult and sometimes frustrating. At this point quite a few 3-D games were released but those games required what was at the time an immense amount of space and likely would have rendered this game unmanageable. I would hope someone could recreate all of Baldur’s Gate series in a 3D space, but with the release of other D&D MMO or 3D style games I doubt that will ever happen. It would be a sight to see a game like this rendered in modern graphics and 3D style.
It also suffers the same issues with the screen cut-off as I referenced in my BGIEE article, where on a TV and projector the right side of the screen is cut off a bit. Graphics on a PC monitor are clear lines and an excellent looking screen. It also again suffers from being based on a mouse click and point option which makes for awkward selection on the PS4 controller, most apparent during combat scenes. Proficient and repeated use of the pause option will be necessary especially on harder settings if you’re interested in surviving combat.
In the game there is often more than one choice of which path to take. How to move forward in the main quest line and complete the game varies depending on those choices. I was about halfway through the game when I realized that those choices would have consequences later, and some of them seemed to have significant influence on my path.
This difference from Baldur’s Gate, is really emphasized at the very end when you’re given a set of choices in quick sequence and the result is immediately applied. Make sure you go through the correct set of doors when given the choice, I accidentally went right when I should have gone left the first time! Albeit, if you want to be evil definitely go right. You’ll get no judgement from me in that regard.
There is a myriad of side quests, more than previously offered. There are even items that you can find throughout the game that allow for the creation of a great weapon. I found all of this intriguing, as well as a lot of fun to think through, find, and solve. Initially you start out in a hidden compound, ending up in the city of Amn. Things go sideways immediately, and you’re cast into the mayhem of groups that want you to do their bidding while you try to rescue your friend. There are twists and turns and surprises and sometimes the obvious happens.
I think it’s still fun, and if you rush through there’s lots of room to replay and try different options. If you don’t rush through you should easily enjoy 80+ hours of play time, which you can stretch to 100+ if you want going back and forth between several locations to finish all the quests. You can reach very high levels doing this which is fantastic and a lot of fun to see how the various classes work out. Despite the graphics showing its age the game is still very playable and worthy of the time. Now if you’ll excuse me, once again the little animals have denied me their wisdom and I need to go find out what they know!