Some mood music, for your reading pleasure. (I do not own this music)
So far, I’ve only taken a look at some of the cosmetic changes of the Menu System, plus a few interface changes, with “Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition” (“BG2EE”). I’ll touch on a few more changes as “Crimson” and Imoen continue their journey through this prison.
Imoen and I made our way through the gigantic room where I was held. The floors were grated metal. I can’t quite see the ceiling, due to the ever-present darkness. And cages – there are dozens of cages, some hanging from the said ceiling, others bolted to platforms on the floor. there are also numerous bodies – some are merely skeletons, others are not-long-deceased.
We made our way towards one end of the room. There are 2 large cages, similar to the one I was in. As we approached, a familiar bellow greeted our ears:
Had to provoke the big guy a little bit to get him out, since I couldn’t find a way to free him. It’s nice to have Minsc and his… rodent… back with us.
Don’t look at me with that tone of voice, Boo! I’m actually glad to see you, also!
This is a feature where I really like the new version over the original one. In the old version, a lot of the information about a character were hidden in sub-menus and sub-sub-menus. The new interface places nearly all of a character’s info in easy-to-locate tabs. If you want to find out what Minsc’s current abilities are, just click the tab; if you want to read a little about his background, you can now click the “Biography” tab, instead of hunting for it in hidden menus. There’s is also a lot of general info on the home page of the Character Tab (like the picture above). Nice tweak!
In the cage next to Minsc, Jaheria! (Still as gruff as I (am beginning to) remember)
Unlike Minsc’s cage, Jaheira’s had a key hole… but no key to be found. Also, unlike Minsc’s, we couldn’t break her bars. Minsc, Imoen, and I went in search for a key and maybe some gear, promising to come back to free Jaheira.
Imoen filled me in on her escape, plus what happened to her, while we searched. She said that some man had tortured her (and me – why can’t I fill in those pieces yet?!?) with magic and dark visions, searching for… something. She didn’t know what. Imoen also doesn’t know if Jaheira and Minsc suffered the same torture.
Imoen doubled back to the room she escaped from. The room was small but carpeted. Inside, there were some chests, a large table in the center, and various paintings on the wall. There was a door on the opposite wall. In the corner, in front of the door, was a large, brown humanoid, about 8 feet tall!
The Golem – thankfully! – didn’t confront us. I tried talking to it but it didn’t have much info, other than “we are The Master’s prisoners” and “you must return to your cells”. While I was with the Golem, Imoen searched the room, looking for traps first. She found and disabled one, on one of the wall paintings. Inside:
Looting items and corpses hasn’t changed. The interface for looting only has some minor graphical improvements, from what I’ve seen so far.
Minsc and I found various pieces of armor inside that central table – it wasn’t what we had before our capture but it will suffice! At the bottom of the compartment, there was a long,, oddly-shaped piece of yellow metal. It had a long shaft at the top; perhaps this is the key to Jaheira’s cage! Imoen unlocked one of the chests to find an array of standard weapons: a short sword, long sword, great sword, and mace, just to name a few! I grabbed a serviceable longsword and a set of Chain Mail; Minsc took the Greatsword plus a set of what looked to be Banded Armor; Imoen found a set of light armor (although she only held on to it – I don’t think she can cast spells if she’s wearing armor) to go with that now-glowing-blue dagger she found behind the painting. We found a set of Studded Leather Armor for Jaheira and were on our way back, when Imoen halted us. She had spotted an 8-foot-long, heavily polished wooden staff, standing in a corner. “Take this, Minsc – it’s for Jaheira.”
With Jaheira freed and everyone armored up, we finally left that horrible main chamber. Imoen scouted ahead and found a passage leading off to the… south? Southwest? Regardless, there are fresh bodies *everywhere*: whoever our captor is, someone or some group came here to stop him… and the fight may not be over. Maybe we can escape in the midst of the fighting… but we have to be very cautious.
The path turned to the right, leading into a room, slightly larger than the one with the Golem. There is a large machine in the center, brightly glowing with enough energy to make my hair stand on end. This machine looks dangerous.
“Wait here.” Imoen used her thieving training to melt into the shadows and entered the room. She returned a few moments later.
“Got good news and bad news. The good news: there is some kind of switch on the right-hand wall. I think it might shut down that thing in the center of the room. The bad news…”
“… will taste the steel boot of JUSTICE!!” Minsc proclaimed.
Shaking her head, smirking, Imoen continued: “… the bad news: that machine is electrified. Also, there is something in the back of the room. It’s not large but it does have wings, kinda like a large bat. It might be a Mephit. I could sneak behind it….”
No. Instead, I sent Imoen to the switch to see what can figure out. The rest of will confront whatever that thing is. I’d rather have my bow, or any bow, but this sword will work fine. TO BATTLE!
The combat system does not appear to have changed. Combat is, by default, real-time. In the Gameplay options, you can set the combat to “Turn Based” (I’m not a fan of that, so I left that option alone). If you want to give your characters specific targets or commands, you can pause the game (‘Space Bar’), click on different opponents, and unpause the game to see how everything plays out.
Unlike the original version, however, your teammates start with specific scripts for attacking and defending. For example, when Imoen walked into the room, the Mephit in the back of the room spotted her; she immediately cast “Stoneskin” on herself. Jaheira, without my prompting, cast “Control Human or Animal” on it, although it resisted. I like the scripts but I have to be careful, since I’m not used to the the other characters acting before I can give them commands. I’ll have to look at what each script does and possibly rearrange spell-casters’ books in the near future.
We came through the Mephit battle relatively unharmed; Boo might gotten singed after a lightning bolt shot by Minsc a little too close.
On the other side of the room, there was an exit. We went through it and emerged in a enormous, underground cavern. There were clusters of red and brown crystals throughout the cavern floor, with stone stalactites of the same color jutting from the ceiling. In the center of some of these crystals were small pools of a grayish purple liquid. I looked in one and regretted that choice. There was no bottom to the pool! Instead, I saw what I think might have been the beginnings of our multiverse? Stars glowed, exploded, and reformed; planets coalesced… I had to be hallucinating!
That might explain why I looked up and a Djinn was smiling at me.
How… how did he know my name??
Aataqah gave me a riddle: me and my sibling were held in separate rooms by a sadistic wizard. In front of us are boxes with a red button on it. The wizard states that if I press the button but my sibling doesn’t, I die but they go free.
If we both press the buttons, we both die. We had one turn of the hourglass to decide. What was my decision?
I said that I would press the button. Minsc had a different solution, however:
For my choice, we were greeted with the summoning of a 10-12 foot tall humanoid, with robes and glowing energy around its hands. An Ogre Mage!
Here’s another change that I like: the health bar that appears above each character’s head when combat starts. Sometimes, a visual clue works better than a numerical one, when it comes to health.
I am playing on “Hard” mode, so enemies hit harder and take a little more to kill. The Ogre Mage is usually a good test for a new party; this was no exception. I didn’t lose anyone but my Crimson and Minsc were looking a little rough at the end of the fight.
We now sit in this cavern, catching our collective breath. There are a couple of hallways that branch out from this cavern. I have reunited with Imoen, Minsc, and Jaheira, although Minsc informed us that his witch, Dynehair, was killed in front of him and Jaheira’s husband, Khalid, is still missing.
It appears that we have to find this ‘Rielev’ for answers and for finding out a way to escape wherever we are. It is obviously not a ‘normal’ prison: it is an underground complex. We have to also find Khalid.
For now, we must rest, prep spells, and get ready for whatever may lie ahead.
Part III will deal with Crimson’s party, as they go ever deeper into the complex. I’ll also touch on any changes that I find along the way.