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My amateur-ish review of Siege of Dragonspear and some more.

I would like to share how I feel about the Siege of Dragonspear expansion here with the community. I was really excited and hyped about the expansions, it seemed like Beamdog was going in the very right direction. I was excited to the point I pre-ordered the expansion, despite still having the release state of BG:EE in mind, and remembering how absolutely livid I was on that day. Yet, I trused Beamdog.

And it was worth it!

I was having a great time with the game, starting off with my signature character from the scratch, finishing Baldur's Gate and then playing through Siege of Dragonspear. I felt the excellent Baldur's Gate gameplay in whole new - and very important - adventure.

Let's start from the art side and overall design. New locations are looking very good, much better than in original BG1 and BG2 - and about as good as Icewind Dale's (which always seemed more detailed than BG ones). Not only that, the design was also better in comparison to base BG1. For example, I disliked the dungeons in BG1 due their bad design combined with terrible ai pathfinding (which was corrected in patch 2.0. Pathfinding still isn't perfect, but it made going through Firewine Bridge Ruins much less frustrating), but I didn't have any issues with them in SoD. They were actually pleasant to explore. Some of new effect, like fog, were also a welcome addition. I was however little dissapointed with some minor things, like with Shining Lady not having an unique avatar for her (it was just base avatar with some tweaks).

I generally liked the music, although I can't say I find all the new track as memorable as I wish they would. There are some songs that are very forgettable. But on each forgettable song there are ones I felt in love with, "The Shadow of the Shining Lady" is the perfect example. I can't stop listening to this.

Native English speaker will greatly appreciate the new soundsets and return of original voice actors. I however didn't find it that important. I was raised on Polish language version, and on Polish voice acting. That being said, I've played with English voices for the sake of consistency between BG1 and SoD. And I can't say my overall experience was damaged due of that.

Now, the plot. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will be generalizing. The concept of the plot worked for me, even if the game was more linear than BG1 was and you couldn't track back to areas you explored in previous chapters. It made sense, but it wasn't something I would expect from this series. We are introduced to the Shining Lady very early in the story, and I must said I found myself being interested in her and her goals - and most importantly - the means she intended using to achieve them. The plot managed to surprise me more than once in the end, but there also were elements where I mentally shouted "called it!". I also greatly appreciate filling the gap between BG1 and BG2. Many thanks for that!

I found general writing to be actually good, but there were a bits that made me roll my eyes (fortunately, there weren't really crucial). For example, Amulet of Abnormally Awesome Ankheg Summoning - I could accept it's ridiculous name, if it wasn't made by dark druid but by some crazy half-witted gnome! Now, for NPCs. Additional interactions and dialogues for older NPCs were so very welcome, and for the most part, I liked them. As for new ones, I've only had Corwin and Glint in my party. Let's start from Glint. In BG2, Jan Jansen was so annoying I felt like gnomes were killed for me. Glint, on the other hand, restored my faith in gnomes, as he was very likeable and useful companion, easily being able to fit in my party. Now, Corwin. Some of the trolls that were invading this forum as of late might consider her a result of some feminist agenda. But I'm smarter than that and I can see that Corwin being tough, serious and capable woman is rather the result of her being a Flaming Fist Officer, rather than trolls' delusions. She was also a very useful companion. What I seriously don't appreciate is her "ninjamancing" my character. I felt like her "suggestion" of hooking up with my char was way too sudden and forced (at least she can take rejection well). Come on, this could be done better - it needed only "build up" in SoD at most, the rest of the relationship would carry on to BG2 and ToB.

There was also apparently a transgender minor NPC included, that I overlooked and some reference made by Minsc that rustled many jimmies. I personally consider those a minor things that aren't taking from my overall experience with game, and definitely aren't ruining the franchise and it's legacy.

Worth mentioning, your character class and some abillity scores affects conversation in dialogues. In fact, in one of first interactions I had, my mage had an opportunity to show that she was - well, mage - in other way than throwing fireballs on the battlefield. It was something both BG1 and BG2 were missing and I am thankful for inclusion!

And now, new content. The Shaman class is certainly interesting in concept, but I fear it's not my thing. I never found the notion of standing in place, activating Shaman Dance and hoping for spirit to spawn. And some unique Shamanic spells were not worth the trade. As for new items - they are excellent. Very soon my mage found an item that made her cast spells on higher caster level than she was in - that's something new for Baldur's Gate and I gladly used the item. Items have more interesting properties to them in general, and that's always on plus. Many of them are able to be used by almost any class, but still gives some particular classes/kits additional bonuses and I think it's very good solution. That way, many items were not rendered useless for certain party combinations. Overall - great job at the items! I am very dissapointed, however, with the fact that there are no new spells, especially for classes like Druid.

There also some more changes and inclusions, but it would take too much time to discuss them all. The most important: new UI in SoD is simply beautiful, new map screen is awesome, sprites outlines are very welcome, life bars are good as an option. The difficulty setting actually dissapointed me. Sure, there is now way to rise up difficulty without damage taken increase, but it's achieved in very stupid way. I would rather wait for SCS to be compatible with SoD, than fighting with absurd ammount of enemies every turn.

There are some stability issues with the game. Few times during like 20 hours the game just crashed at random without any reason to it. Once it happended shortly before me finishing the game, and the F word I uttered (K word in Polish) was much louder than I intended... Aside from those crashes, I haven't had any stability issues.

I had to note that I managed to finish SoD only one time. I've probably missed a lot of stuff and I apologize for that.

All in all - for Baldur's Gate fans, I can easily recommend the expansion. As for trolls seeking to be offended by anything - just get out of here.


My character at the end of Siege of Dragonspear, just before final boss battle. Rolled with stats of 92. The rest are results of being buffed by items and tomes.

And finally, the other thing. After release of BG:EE and it's state on that day, I become very skeptical of Beamdog's doing. That disposition was later reinforced by certain circumstances I am now ashamed of. Some people might know what I am talking about. But now, I want to say two things to Beamdog. First of all, I apologize for my former disposition, it seems I was judging you too harshly and not always fairly. Second - you gained my trust and support as customer. Now, I am much like I originally was when I joined this forum for the first time - passionate and really interested in the series. The difference is that now I'm more mature and hopefully - more constructive user.

May the Boo be with you.

redlinePurudayamlnevesebooinyoureyesskeptik_59sarevok57lunarthe_sexteinJuliusBorisovMoradinMirandelCrevsDaakStummvonBordwehrDreadKhanTorgrimmerDragonspearsemiticgod

Comments

  • redlineredline Member Posts: 278
    I agree wholeheartedly (on most counts)!

    I found Corwin's romance to be less jarring as it progressed. The initial come-on was a little unexpected, but after that things progressed at a fairly reasonable pace, from my perspective... even if you make it clear you're interested in the romance, she's pretty cagey about it throughout the game and doesn't really seem 100% sure until the end. Glint, on the other hand, was so completely out of left field that I feel like I skipped a dialog or two. I'm curious to hear other people's impressions of his romance to see if it was just me.

    I actually enjoyed the shaman way more than I expected. The bonus spells are useful (having raise dead queued up at all times is AWESOME... same with an anti-charm spell). Druid spells are so inconsistent that the character's small spell book wasn't a disadvantage. And the dance wasn't always useful, but was at least interesting... maybe it's just because I've been on a bard kick lately, but I didn't mind the toggle-and-wait approach to the character.

    For the story, my only gripe was that

    I never had an option to scream at Caelar about how obviously evil her advisor is. I walk in on the guy discussing blood sacrifice with a demon, and there next time we parley, that just... doesn't come up? Kind of frustrating.


    Other than that, I'm with you. Good story, awesome antagonist, decent music, and fun companions. The game isn't without its flaws but after being kind of unimpressed with EE, this was a pleasant surprise for me.

    O_Bruce
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    redline said:

    For the story, my only gripe was that

    I never had an option to scream at Caelar about how obviously evil her advisor is. I walk in on the guy discussing blood sacrifice with a demon, and there next time we parley, that just... doesn't come up? Kind of frustrating.
    Yeah, I feel you on that and I agree. And thanks for commenting in the topic.

  • WesleyWesley Member Posts: 55
    O_Bruce said:

    redline said:

    For the story, my only gripe was that

    I never had an option to scream at Caelar about how obviously evil her advisor is. I walk in on the guy discussing blood sacrifice with a demon, and there next time we parley, that just... doesn't come up? Kind of frustrating.
    Yeah, I feel you on that and I agree. And thanks for commenting in the topic.
    I agree.

    I even talked to the ghost of Deros Dragonspear, who told me that Hephernaan's master was a devil from the Nine Hells, but this wasn't information I had the chance to offer at the parley.

  • jimw884jimw884 Member Posts: 24
    redline said:



    I found Corwin's romance to be less jarring as it progressed. The initial come-on was a little unexpected, but after that things progressed at a fairly reasonable pace, from my perspective... even if you make it clear you're interested in the romance, she's pretty cagey about it throughout the game and doesn't really seem 100% sure until the end. Glint, on the other hand, was so completely out of left field that I feel like I skipped a dialog or two. I'm curious to hear other people's impressions of his romance to see if it was just me.

    When does the romance start exactly. I already am at the coalition camp and nothing has happened. Playing female.

  • RawgrimRawgrim Member Posts: 621
    Nothing amateurish about that review, OP. That was a very good review.

    DreadKhan
  • skeptik_59skeptik_59 Member Posts: 38
    Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I found it informative, which is pretty much all I am looking for in a review. This adds to my understanding of the game, and that's all to the good. Thanks again.

    O_Bruce
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,634
    wowzers @O_Bruce that is a beautiful portrait

    booinyoureyesSharGuidesMyHandO_Bruce
  • Abi_DalzimAbi_Dalzim Member Posts: 1,410
    For me, the romance never seemed to progress after that initial come-on. Not sure what to make of that, other than I maybe rushed through the rest of the game too quickly. Also, I'm pretty disappointed at how, well, easy the end sequence was, especially considering, well, the other game where this guy showed up.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    edited April 2016
    Rawgrim said:

    Nothing amateurish about that review, OP. That was a very good review.

    Well, it is amateurish. It's not like I have excessive experience in writing those. But I'm glad you find it good.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I found it informative, which is pretty much all I am looking for in a review. This adds to my understanding of the game, and that's all to the good. Thanks again.

    Glad I could help.
    sarevok57 said:

    wowzers @O_Bruce that is a beautiful portrait

    That 20 charisma is justified, after all. I've spend much time on finding portrait for the character.

    For me, the romance never seemed to progress after that initial come-on. Not sure what to make of that, other than I maybe rushed through the rest of the game too quickly. Also, I'm pretty disappointed at how, well, easy the end sequence was, especially considering, well, the other game where this guy showed up.

    I see, but I disagree. In the other game, that guy
    was actually very easy to beat in IWD. All it takes is for your party to get out of the main central circle area (that consists of dispel magic traps, among others), buff up and just kick his arse. He dies quickly.

    Unless, of course, enhanced edition of Icewind Dale change few things.


    EDIT. I forgot. @sarevok57 , here's the portrait:

    sarevok57Dapifer
  • redlineredline Member Posts: 278
    I have to disagree about the end boss as well.

    The last time I played IWD, I steamrolled him on the first try with minimal prep. Just playing through the game on Core difficulty was sufficient to get you ready for whatever he could throw at you. And the fact that he fought alone just made it that much easier. In SoD, though...


    It probably took me a dozen tries or so, mostly because of the immunities. I REALLY don't like to metagame... I prefer to go in blind, as stocking up on spells/items/buffs for one very specific fight ruins immersion for me. As a result, I hardly had any +3 weapons, and didn't have nearly enough instances of Lower Resistance memorized... most of my party members were utterly useless for that last fight. Combine that with the cheesy, Aec'letec-style insta-casting of fear/charm/hold throughout the fight and you've got an encounter that's an enormous PITA if you're not ready for it the second you pop on the elevator. I could have reverted to an earlier save and prepped a bit more, but at that point I was so close I wanted to see if I could make do without.

    I only won when I dug through my scroll case and found a scroll of Enchanted Weapon, which I promptly dumped on Corwin.

    O_Bruce
  • ChrolloChrollo Member Posts: 2
    edited January 28
    Hello there, sorry for being irrelevant in your discussion but could someone tell me which mod is used in O_Bruce's screenshot (for the menus and stuff)?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,358
    edited January 28
    @Chrollo that's the standard UI for SoD (or BGEE with SoD installed).

    JuliusBorisovDreadKhan
  • ChrolloChrollo Member Posts: 2
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    I wouldn't say I rofl-stomped the SoD boss, but I didn't find him nearly as hard as IWD's two big vanilla demon fights. That includes the fact that several characters couldn't actually DO anything to the boss... I think Minsc was using a good two-hander and did lots of heavy lifting. My PCs are normally pretty powergamey though, and that swashbuckler I was using was a powerhouse. Iirc, I was really frustrated by my previous reliance of fire-based damage, and needed to change my strategy in the later fights. 

    TorgrimmerThacoBellJuliusBorisov
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