Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

15As if Baldur’s Gate II wasn’t big enough.

In Baldur’s Gate you learned your origins and found out what your past heritage was, and you ended up fighting Saravok and defeating him. In Baldur’s Gate II you explored your destiny. You became much more powerful in the process, you reached around level 17… or even higher, depending on your class. This expansion pack wraps up the storyline of the child of Bhaal saga. It’s certainly not going to be the end of AD&D on the home computer, but it will wrap up an important chapter of PC role-playing.

The expansion comes in two parts—an add-on and an “add-in”. The add-on picks up where the last game ended and concludes the child of Bhaal storyline once and for all. The “add-in” injects new content into Baldur’s Gate II, much in the same way that Tales of the Sword Coast did. That new content is an exceedingly large dungeon called Watcher’s Keep, which BioWare swears is their most awesome dungeon ever. There you’ll encounter a variety of nasty monsters and a fairly large assortment of legendary artifacts from the AD&D rules. You’ll also probably die a lot.

The new story starts in your own personal stronghold in the Abyss. From there, you’ll learn a variety of new (and extremely potent) powers, each of which opens up new areas of your stronghold to explore. The first power you get is the ability to summon any character from Baldur’s Gate II. To them, it seems as though you never left, and they will join your party immediately. You can also create or import a party of your own, if you prefer. The game will automatically bump any character you use to 2,000,000 experience points and outfit you with items appropriate to that level.

Next you can go to a variety of places, including the city of Saradush (in Tethyr), which is under siege. It seems that the children of Bhaal are at war with each other, and you have landed right in the thick of it. The city is teeming with huddled refugees, hot-tempered locals, decaying corpses, and disease. Catapults rain fire down on the city streets as you walk around. It’s not a happy place.


The spell effects are nice.

There are also a number of new spells and abilities in the expansion as well, including a new character kit, the Wild Mage. Some of the new spells that you’ll be able to cast are best described as “Biblical” in scale, similar to the Quest Spells introduced in the AD&D 2nd Edition Tome of Magic. Storm of Vengeance, for instance, creates a mass of gloomy purple clouds that have a chance to slay your enemies outright. After that, the clouds turn poisonous. Then they rain down fire and burning acid. Then they shoot out a bit of lighting here and there, just to mop up anyone that might still be standing.

Excessive? Perhaps, but that term could apply to any new content heaped on top of the already lengthy game that is Baldur’s Gate II. If you have the time to spare and can appreciate an in-depth and vast role-playing game then Throne of Bhaal should definitely be on your to-do list.

System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95

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