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Recently, I decided to take my dusty copy of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn for a spin. I know that a lot of you are gasping now, or perhaps scratching your heads, but its true. This is my first play-through of the fabled series. However, I am no stranger to Bioware’s fantastic D&D based video games.

I played both Icewind Dale 1 and 2, with the later being one of my favorite gaming experiences.  What really turned me off from Baldur’s Gate when I first tried playing it nine years ago was that my computer at the time was too weak for a full install. So every time I left certain areas…I had to put a new disc into the drive.  Yes, I am lazy.

Now that my computer has the cajones to handle the massive full install (which isn’t so massive anymore), because im still too lazy to change the discs, my journey into the forgotten realms is finally underway, and I thought I would share my experience so far with you.

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn is a lot like jelly. You can leave jelly in your fridge for a long time and the preservatives will make sure that it stays fresh and tasty.  I think my apple jelly is pushing about 4-5 months. Mmmm… apple jelly… anyway, where were we? Oh yeah! Instead of long complicated names that stretch its lifespan, Baldur’s Gate uses common, but effective, ingredients. Actually, if it had to put a label on the side of it…this is how it would read.

Ingredients: Ambushes, versatility, compelling narrative, intricate side quests, ambushes, assorted classes, red 14, conversation ambushes, challenge, luck, ambushes, and a hamster.

It’s nearly ten years old and is more compelling than a lot of the sequels and prequels we are having to trudge through.  ut, I do have one complaint that I feel may rectify itself if I whine about it. If you take a look at the list above, Black Isle and Bioware may have had a communication error…there is a over abundance of ambushes.

This is an average day for my party.

After Yoshimo cleverly defangs the trap underneath the door, Morik (yes, this is from Salvatores books, I love this name) and his cohorts slide through the door into a dark and musty room (of course). As Morik’s eyes adjust, a dark streak deflects off the floor in front of him and one of his companions cries out in pain, “Ambush!”  Quickly he calls out for a defensive position.

A quick survey of the room shows that five orcish archers are positioned behind slitted walls. Their defensive position affords them a great deal of cover from the barrage of arrows, and the party mage and ranger make quick work of the unfortunate orcs. Taking into account his wounded comrade, Morik decides to rest for a couple of hours.

After settling down, about an hour later, they awake to the sound of shuffling boots. A hobgoblin brigade followed the group into the ruins and finally decided to pounce upon the party. A short scuffle and a few spells later, Morik and company decide to finish their rest and continue on. With their rest complete and the ruins sprawled out in front of them, they push forward into the next chamber. As they press on, a group of vampires dash from the shadows…

So…there you have it. Every time I rest, move into another room, or pause the game with the space bar, I get ambushed. It doesn’t make the game intolerable (the combat is endlessly versatile), but constantly having to quick-save and re-load, because a group of shadow wraiths decide to paralyze the main character, can get frustrating.

I don’t know if it was Bioware’s attempt at showing how vicious a world the forgotten realms can be or just a cruel attempt to increase the slope of the difficulty curve, but I think I am ambushed every twenty seconds. If I am not being ambushed by enemies my party members are constantly assaulting me with questions like “Do I look pretty?” or “How do you feel?”

So, to restore my dignity, I have decided to change the name of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. From here on, it will be referred to as Ambush’s Gate II: Shadows of Ambush.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not doing this because I dislike the game. I am merely doing this so that future players won’t be caught off guard like I was.  I don’t feel like the title of the game fits, because I haven’t once found his damn gate and the only shadows I see are the ones of people sneaking up on me. Other than that… this is one of the best games I have played in a long time, and it is making the wait for Infamous that much easier.

The Sunday Soapbox is an account of the writer’s personal opinions and not representative of Gamer Limit’s opinions as a whole.

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