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Baldur’s Gate II: Still Epic After All These Years

My old IBM Aptiva (or a model very close to it).

My old IBM Aptiva (or a model very close to it).

In the year 2000, (and no this isn’t the start to an old Conan O’brien skit) my PC could barely run Baldur’s Gate II. At least I that’s what I thought, I never played it back then even though I was dying to. I had an IBM Aptiva E5D with a Pentium II 400MHz processor, and like 64mb of RAM. Plus, I had completely maxed out my tiny hard drive with audio files created in Goldwave and Cool Edit 96. The video games I was playing were on my Sega Dreamcast, which at the time had mind-bending graphics. Friends would come over and play NFL2K and say things like “oh my god you can see the light reflecting on his helmet that’s wicked awesome”. So Bauldur’s Gate II (and its predecessor) slipped right by me, unfortunately.

Fast forward to the year 2015, after almost 2 decades of me playing endless rpg’s (Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, Final Fantasy, Fallout, Grimrock, Deus Ex) I was introduced to an incredible game called Pillars of Eternity, by Obsidian Entertainment. I played it, got immersed, and fell in love. As I read up on it, it’s countless mentions as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate kept bringing back those old memories…Baldur’s Gate II… the one that got away.

The Cover of the Cardboard box you probably bought at Electronics Boutique.

The Cover of the cardboard box you probably bought at Electronics Boutique (while eating a Cinnabon).

A few weeks ago gog.com had a sale on Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced edition. It was impossible to turn down. I thought, “OK it’s probably gonna look terrible and crash on Windows 10, but at this price why the hell not”. I installed it (along with the patch) and dove in. My initial reaction was, “OK I can deal with these graphics”. In fact, the environment art is still incredible. The character portraits are mesmerizing. The character animations and combat, eh well those haven’t aged well. However, after an hour of wandering around looking for Jon Irenicus I completely forgot that I was playing a 15+ year old game.

I’ve realized that there’s a certain perspective to take when playing this game in our day and age. You have to treat the graphics like you would text in a novel. That is, let the graphics propel your imagination into creating a magnificent mental projection of BGII’s story-line. It’s not a tough task given the incredible writing and dialog that are interwoven through out. If you can do that you’ll enjoy this game as much as I am, and you’ll understand why it’s known as the greatest RPG of all time. Oh yeah, and by the way, be sure to gather your party before venturing forth.

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