I have never been a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons or the recent Baldur's Gate PC games. When I heard this game was coming out soon for PS2, I paid it no heed. When the release date got closer people began talking about it so I decided to check out some previews. The previews stated that the game had abandoned the previous control method of Baldur's Gate games and went to an approach more like a platformer game. I loved Diablo II and I heard this game would be similar and the screenshots were just fantastic. I ran out and picked this game up as soon as I could and I could not put it down for several hours straight.
My first impression of this game was jaw-dropping awe. The town and dungeons are incredibly detailed. In some parts of the game the terrain seems almost molded from plastic and beautifully painted. The lighting effects are incredible. Shadows are cast by hanging lanterns and the light reflects off of your enemies.
The sound is almost perfect. Ambient noises such as creaking doors, chains, and falling rocks add great atmosphere to the game. The music is scattered throughout the game but masterfully done. One great feature of the sound is that your character does not continually grunt when attacking as in some games. Games such as Dynasty Warriors 3 and Star Ocean 2 have continually repeated grunts and attack noises that get on your nerves very quickly. The primary sound you hear is the sword or weapon ripping through the flesh of your enemies. Occasionally your character will talk trash to the soon to die enemy, but these taunts do not get annoying.
Game plays much like a platformer. You use the analog stick to move your character around and control every swing of your weapon with the X button. This differs from previous Baldur's Gate games, because in those games you had a mouse pointer that you had to click on enemies in order to attack. At times your weapon will miss the enemy when you thought you were right on target, but overall the controls are a huge improvement over Baldur's Gate II for PC and Diablo 2.
All NPC's have full voice dialog and the voice acting is very good. NPC animations are also good as NPC's display body language that corresponds to their dialog. The story is linear but very good. Plot points unravel as you weave your way through various terrains in search of a greater evil.
The game takes place over several different terrains such as snow cover mountaintops, swamps, and crypts. The monsters are incredible and quite varied from region to region. Some monsters are 6 times your height and carry a weapon as tall as they are, while some monsters are only a third your height and stab at your legs with spears. The combination of spell and melee combat is just incredibly entertaining.
The reason I only gave this game a 90% instead of a much higher score is because it was rather short. It was well worth the money and I had an insane amount of fun playing it, but it left me wanting more. Also I wish the game would react differently to the player you are using. There are 3 characters to select when you create a new character, a human archer, dwarven fighter, and elven sorceress. NPC's react the same way to all characters, even when standing half-naked in front of them as the sorceress. Overall this is a must have game for the PlayStation 2 and is currently my second favorite PS2 game right behind Grand Theft Auto 3.