Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

released on Sep 21, 2000

Every World has conflict. Good and evil. Friend and foe. Safety and danger. In Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, you'll find yourself between these factions. This epic sequel to the Roleplaying Game of the Year will immerse you in a world of intrigue, adventure and fierce combat where your ability to discern the difference between these sides - with the assistance of steel and spell - determines your fate. Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, Baldur's Gate II is the most stunning Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game to date.

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Played eight hours straight through the night in candlelight while drinking red wine, right after reaching the ripe age where I could actually legally buy booze. One of the more memorable gaming experiences that I've yet to replicate.

There are some game experiences I would do ANYTHING to replicate, and BG2 is one of those. I was in senior year of high school when this was released, and yeah that was shit timing, because while I was supposed to be at home doing essays and studying for exams, every spare minute I could find I was playing BG2. I fucking DEVOURED this game. Just 6 months of pure fantasy RPG joy.
Kind wanna revisit this one now, just to see if that old magic is still there...

i think it was good, but i got 90% through a while back and hit a brick wall because i'm too dumb for magic, and the thought of having to start over again with janky pathfinding and annoying UI makes me not wanna touch it

... and now i love this game and am currently going through the full trilogy with a sorta headcanonish eekeeper-modified party: berserker/cleric dual class mc, shadowdancer viconia for doing crime and backstabs, sorceress imoen, illusionist aerie, jaheira sticking with her natural summoning druid tank style, mazzy on gesen bow (since she comes with shortbow grandmastery despite being a halfling fighter who yearns to be a paladin) and the last spot or two being filled by a rotating cast for guest quests until [redacted] joins for the final stretch in throne of bhaal. playing on core rules difficulty. my current user pic here is a drawing of viconia by ryoko kui (dungeon meshi mangaka), recolored and slightly redrawn by me. so, uh, one could say that i have come around on this game.

i have to be real with you, this was my entire life for like a year, give or take. there's just very little in the game i haven't done, and then i got into modding and oh, the shit you would see back in the day when you were into bg2 modding
well! anyway!
the early section of this is incredibly strong. straight out of the gate, if you're importing your character from bg1, you're stripped of all your d&d toys and directly transported from the fun swashbuckling adventure to the horror nightmare zone.
even if irenicus ends up being kind of a whatever villain when all's said and done, the game does a really great job of building him up as a huge, threatening adversary -- and his VA job is out of this world. there's a relatively massive amount of exceptional voice acting here in general, and it adds a lot of life and charm to characters that... aren't otherwise always written all that well.
you start at around level 9 or so, which means being decisively out of low level d&d hell and in the stretch where you actually get to use a good array of spells and abilities. this also makes many of this game's combat encounters fairly interesting and challenging until you figure out some of the many ways to completely break the mechanics, which is its own kind of fun.
athkatla is big, cool, beautifully rendered and fun to explore, and you really get swamped with sidequests since early on, creating the impression of a bustling metropolis. it kind of isn't all that bustling once you're used to it, and it can end up feeling like the world exists for the convenience of you, the main character -- but that's something that can happen in a tabletop campaign as well, and if you're sufficiently engrossed you may not even notice.
it doesn't really have big ideas or very deep characters, and these days i don't have a lot of patience for that. but it's definitely more atmospheric and interesting than bg1 and icewind dale, and it's a huge nostalgia game for me.

Perhaps your BG1 adventure had some interesting organic party moments like characters X and Y finally getting fed up of bickering with characters A and B and ruthlessly slaughtering them and you exacting vengeance upon them, alas your memories are but fanfiction and canon is king. A is alive and well, grieving over B who died in an unrelated way and X and Y are... alive as well to get fucked over royally. A time before Shepard's spacevaganza when continuity wasn't deemed as important, so a grievance we can forgive. It's all good after all because A can now slobber over our chosen cocks in this fantasy isekai adventure: pick your elf waifu edition. Awwwyeah finally a mature game for mature gMers (with segs and all), so what do the male romance options look like? Ha ha ha being a female dnd nerd at the time must've been fun.
Look I'm not mad, the quests are pretty damn fun. And luckily there's no urgency to complete them all, not like we're on a mission to save a family member like that casul tripe there fallout 4. So will get to that main quest eventually but you see, my wife Aerie needs a new pair of shoes (gave her boots of speed and damn the girl's l i t e r a l l y faster than Chiktikka Fastpaws).