In 2016 I bought Siege of Dragonspear despite the negative reviews it received. I loved it.
Now in 2019 I've played it a second time and can say that I no longer love it, but it is a good game.Big PictureIs SOD Necessary to the Saga?
Obviously, as the BG series was widely regarded as a masterpiece without SOD for many years, no SOD was not necessary to the series or story. You can avoid it, not buy it, etc., and the series is just fine. However, you could also say that Durlag's Tower isn't necessary either - but it's nice to have.The Writing
When it came to writing quests, the writers did a swell job. However when writing dialogue between NPCs and with certain interactions, it left much to be desired. At times, the writing is very clearly from "2016" than from "mythical Faerun." Poor writing will obviously be from the "age" it came from. The very best writing is timeless. SOD isn't the very best writing. It is not, however, the worst writing either. After doing research on the writers of SOD and the "controversy" around the time it launched, it's obvious that SOD had a team of writers and that some of them were much better than others and that some were frankly more mature than others as well. That mixed bag produced mixed results in the writing. You will read pages of good stuff and then come across something so sophomoric it will make you want to turn the game off. Whether you can put up with the latter to get the good of the former will vary between players.What I liked
- Glint* (seriously the most fun NPC ever)
- Spectacles of Spectacle (I only wish it had more charges)
- Icewind Dale Ambient Noises and Environments
- More Interjections
- Advanced Environments and Events
- The Side Quests
- The Scripted Encounters (instead of random)
- Caelar Argent
- The main story of the CrusadeWhat I Disliked
- Glint* (I loved everything about Glint except for the fact he mistakes platonic friendliness for sexual advances, it comes across as creepy and badly written)
- No Imoen (I don't agree with the reasons for leaving her on the bench and you already lose her for most of BG2)
- The Hooded Man (ruins mystery of Irenicus)
- The Boss in Avernus (made things too neat between the different games)
- The Twist after Avernus (seemed utterly devoid of agency)Thoughts
While SOD works, I truly feel that it would've been best as a standalone game apart from the Bhaalspawn saga.About Nostalgia@ThacoBell
says that many of us who don't like SOD are just being nostalgic, and he's probably right. Nevertheless, there's something to be said of nostalgia and liking things the way we had them in "our day." If you're relatively new to the EE games, you will probably like SOD. If you're like me and started playing in 1998, you might not. There's really no way to know unless to give it a try.
I don't want to see BD mess with BG2 anymore by adding in references to SOD. Enough meddling with the originals has already cost us so much, and the PST EE release proved that the original games were just fine as-is. Leave the add ons to the modders, please. Just my 2cp on that subject.Final Score
I give Siege of Dragonspear a solid 3/5. Worth buying, especially if on sale. Some like it and some won't, but it's better than TOB for sure. I'm still unsure if I will play SOD on every play-through. I may skip it because there were times during this run I was wanting to rush through to get to Amn.
Nothing would've satisfied me in regards to a "bridge" game between BG1 and BG2, because to an old hat like me, one was unnecessary to begin with. The games were perfect "as-is." A famous painter once said, "an extra stroke of the brush ruins the painting." Sometimes adding something just because you can will only take away from what is there, no matter what you added or how nice it is. SOD is a pretty good game, and were it a standalone, I'd play it all day. As an entry "after the fact" to Baldur's Gate - it doesn't stick with me.