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9.4 based on 139 votes

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

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Release Date :
September 24th, 2000
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ESRB Descriptors :
Animated Blood, Animated Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

Game Description

The sequel to Baldur's Gate, one of the most popular CRPGs ever, Shadows of Amn continues the story of the offspring of the Lord of Murder, Bhaal.  Taking place within the nation of Amn of the Forgotten Realms D&D campaign setting, Shadows of Amn plays very similarly to the original Baldur's Gate, but features an updated version of the game engine, significant balance changes, additional classes and specialisations, bug fixes, and more.

Baldur's Gate II is more story-driven than the first game.  The game begins with the player character, reprising the role of the Bhaalspawn from the first Baldur's Gate, held inside the prison of the mage Jon Irenicus, along with his or her companions from the original game.  After breaking out, Imoen, one of the Bhaalspawn's companions, as well as Irenicus, are arrested by the Cowled Wizards, an organisation which maintains control of magic within Amn.  Throughout the semi-linear story campaign, the player must choose which organisations and individuals to trust, in order to rescue Imoen and ultimately deal with Irenicus

Based on the Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rule set, Baldur's Gate II features BioWare's now-famous real-time-with-pause gameplay, which maintains D&D's turn-based style but allows for faster battles where the player may pause at any time to issue or change commands to his or her party.  Played from an isometric perspective in much the same way as one would control a real-time strategy game like StarCraft or Command & Conquer, Baldur's Gate puts an emphasis both on combat and exploration, with dragons, liches, beholders and other iconic D&D creatures appearing far more frequently.

Perhaps the most notable change in Baldur's Gate II may well be the introduction of the "BioWare formula".  Rather than containing an open world with dozens of different wilderness zones to explore, Baldur's Gate II is instead based around the city of Athkatla, capital of Amn, which serves as a hub, with several outlying towns, forests and so on for the player to explore at his or her leisure; this style was later used in several BioWare games, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age.  More complex interactions with party members are also introduced in Baldur's Gate II, along with romance sub-plots should the player choose to pursue them.
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