I just finished playing this stellar game from the late 90’s (I didn’t realize it was 10 years old, but it was still a great game) and except for the ending, I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Sure it maxes out at only 640 x 480 resolution, but everything is sure big enough on a large monitor. The spell effects were still good, though. The story was outstanding, however. This was also a very long game.
I played through about 3 quarters of it before loading the expansion. Loading the expansion before finishing the game is a good move since otherwise you get to replay the final battle with Sarevok. This also lets your characters XP go up to 161,000 instead of 89,000 in the original game. Capping XPs still stinks as I believe I had 30,000 more than the 161,000 by the end of the game.
The story moves along fairly well, although around the 25% to 50% point you end up clearing many outdoor areas for XPs. Sometimes there are just monsters but there can also be little side quests as well. The game had some nice tough battles throughout (a couple I escaped by the skin of my pants after several reloads) but that’s makes it very exciting. The expansion was particularly tough in most areas, and a little annoying in Durlag’s Tower with all of the traps and such (which I felt like the developers put in just to make the game feel longer), but some of the final battles were the only bad part of the game for me.
I felt like the end of Durlag’s Tower would be very difficult, but it proved to be easier than the end fight on the first level of the Tower. Then, the end fight of the expansion where you go up against some demon is very frustrating as the demon has some death ray gaze (including a hold sometimes) which gives you 20 seconds to deal with or your character dies. After several reloads, I decided to pass the battle by making all my characters saving throws automatic (through a character editor called gatekeeper) which still made the battle hard, but manageable. The end battle of the game (which was made harder if you play the expansion) was ridiculous in my opinion. Sarevok cannot be harmed by magic, his buddies are casting spells at you or shooting flaming arrows, and you can’t go toe to toe with Sarevok or you die since he attacks with super speed or something. Again, after several frustrating attempts, I had to not only make my saving throws automatic, but also give my two fighters 5 attacks per round, and I was still able to only barely survive with only my main character. Make it possible to win already!
I already loaded Baldur’s Gate 2 and imported my main character (the only one you can take), but I was disappointed to learn I had lost all of my equipment from the first game. The importing part was actually a challenge because it couldn’t find my final save game. After poking around, I saw that there was no save folder under Baldur’s Gate 2 so I created one, then I copied my final save into that folder, then I could import.
Anyway, I think this is still a great game to play, even 10 years later. It has a good story, a lot of diverse missions and opportunity to improve your characters, with little slow or boring parts in the game. I particularly liked meeting different potential party members which I could use or not. The second game already looks like it improves a lot on the first by adding better graphics, more spells and weapons, and even difficulty levels (for people like me who hate to struggle with a particularly difficult part of a game). This is a great series and I’m looking forward to enjoying Baldur’s Gate 2 and its expansion.