Baldur's Gate II - First Impression

Baldur's Gate II will have more monsters, more dungeons, more treasure, better graphics, and many more character levels. Don't miss out on the info and screens.

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Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
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Baldur's Gate II: The Shadows of Amn picks up shortly after the last Baldur's Gate ended, and like its predecessorm it'll use the Infinity engine. However, most of the similarity ends there, because just as the game engine has gone through substantial changes, so too will Baldur's Gate II feature many improvements over the original game.

Many of the improvements are technical. Baldur's Gate II will have a cleaner, simpler interface. The game now runs in a higher default resolution of 800 by 600, and it will support higher resolutions as well. While the game will still use 2D sprites and prerendered background scenery, it'll take advantage of your 3D accelerator card for enhanced special effects for spells, lighting, and the fog of war. Baldur's Gate II will also have enhanced animation and much bigger monsters than the original game. While your characters won't be able to run, their walking speed will be about 30 percent faster than before.

You'll be able to import your Baldur's Gate character or create a new one, and either way you'll begin with enough experience points to put you at around seventh or eighth level, giving you access to powerful fighting skills or magical attacks right from the start. Of course, your enemies will be just as deadly, so you'll have to be prudent to succeed against the many foes you'll face.

Baldur's Gate II will have a longer, more focused story than the original game, and many optional quests and plot sequences. For instance, you'll have a class-specific quest depending on your character's profession; a magic-user might be able to commission a mage tower, while a monk might set out on a sojourn toward the highest level of enlightenment.

Monks aren't a standard second-edition Dungeons & Dragons character class, but Baldur's Gate II will include them anyway. In fact, the game will include expansion rules for all of the base D&D character classes. That is, you needn't simply be a plain old fighter: You could be a berserker or a wizard slayer. Paladins can be cavaliers or inquisitors, while thieves can opt to be assassins or swashbucklers. Magic users will still be able to prescribe to specialty schools as in the first Baldur's Gate.

Baldur's Gate II has big shoes to fill, but it looks as if it has what it takes not only to match the high standards set by the original game, but but also to exceed them. Stay tuned for a full hands-on preview from the show floor.

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