And here are my feelings on the game.
What I liked:
My PC is a mage, and this seems to be acknowledged a lot more in SoD. Being a magic user seems to provide alternative ways to solve problems which I found pretty cool.
- Pretending to cast an 'anti-ageing spell' on the noblewoman in the Three Old Kegs so she'd give you her necklace - Suggesting an alternative ingredient to the Blue Moss in the dungeon of Korlasz for the old woman
- Halbazzer from sorceries sundries gives you an extra reward as 'one wizard to another.'
The only real example of this in the original game is Melicamp's quest when you attempt to Dispel his polymorph spell (which fails anyway), and the planar sphere quest/stronghold in SoA.
I liked way the game used Liia Jannath as Imoen's magical mentor, and tying her change of career into her desire to feel closer to Gorion. It also shows that she is starting to grow up and develop aspirations of her own, something that she lacked in Candlekeep, and explains why she is less bratty and childish in SoA and beyond (though being relentlessly tortured and having her soul stolen probably contributed as well...)
I enjoyed the quest with the priestess (Madele) that links the letter from Gorion in the first game to the priestess of Bhaal story in the second game. I also love her captor's journal (Akanna, the half-dragon), and how she evilly describes torturing Madele to the brink of madness, and eating her eyes after roasting them.
I loved the battle at the coalition camp and Dragonspear Castle. Choosing your units against specific enemy types, the scale of the battle and how epic it all felt; very exciting and immersive. It really felt like the characters were caught in the middle of a war.
Hephernann's portrait. He looks every inch the evil, arrogant, slimy bad guy. Pretty cool. I also liked what they did with Khalid's character.
The voice acting was decent. A shame about Jaheira though... I appreciate they couldn't find her voice actress but a convincing sound-alike would have been better than nothing at all.
What I didn't like:
The Enhanced Edition of Baldurs Gate stopped working on my laptop when the version 2.2 patch came out. I just could not get the game to run. Even when I converted back to the 1.3 beta and managed to get it to load (albeit without SoD), the game would crash every time battle ensued, so I was unable to play it (and still can't). I now have to play the game using my partner's laptop. I contacted Beamdog who blamed Steam, and I contacted Steam who blamed Beamdog. After trying everything I just kind of had to accept that this game was not going to work anymore on my machine (which is kind of bad, seeing as the original is a REALLY old game...)
I found a lot of the writing and quests to be infantile and amateurish. Some of it completely didn't make sense. Here are a few examples that baffled me:
- Dynaheir asks Edwin 'thou runnest - or should I say thou waddlest - away from the shining lady?'
Then captain Corwin says 'for the love of the gods, save that filth for a chamberpot.' What does that even mean?!
- The exchange between Glint and Safana... when Safana accuses him of calling her old and threatens to beat him when all he did was ask about her life... that made no sense to me at all. Why did she react that way? Safana is a sultry rapscallion lass and former pirate. She likes attention and isn't easily offended. She would would be more likely to flirt with and tease the gnome and make him embarrassed.
- And can someone explain why Minsc started whimpering after the goblin Shaman encounter? That joke sailed completely past my head.
I disliked the journal system, which I found confusing. Why include the quests from the base game? It's not like they are going to be used again in this game. Also, the way the journal updates for the tiniest little thing, and basically spoon-feeds you what to do, feels condescending.
The eight million quick save slots make no sense either. Confusing?! If you want more than one save slot just do it the long way, otherwise what is the point of having a quick save slot to begin with?
The interface is convoluted and difficult to navigate. It also looks quite garish, and I really wish they did what they had done with BG:EE and used the nice leather-effect SoA interface. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
There are inconsistencies with the plot of the original game. For example, Corwyn says that the Elfsong is a little fancy for her tastes, but in the original game the Elfsong is a dive (hence the thugs on the first floor) in the rough part of the city. Minsc behaves like a child (yeah, he's never been the sharpest tool in the box, but he's not a complete bufoon either), and Safana's new, sarcastic personality really grates on my nerves.
I absolutely HATED the ending. It was so hammy! The whole thing was just a regurgitation of the Iron Throne leaders murder from the base game, and felt massively rushed and unconvincing.
Parts of SoD are quite fun, and the game is not quite as horrible as a lot of people make out, but I probably wouldn't play through it again.