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[Review] The Siege of Whatever

A BG: Siege of Dragonspear Review

  1. Keneth
    After more than five years and many patches, I've finally decided to complete Siege of Dragonspear. Most of you have probably played it by now, and that's okay. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the game from a perspective of someone who's been playing and modding Baldur's Gate for over two decades.

    This review will be somewhat less structured than my previous ones since I doubt anyone really needs me to go in-depth for every single aspect of the game. That said, I'll try to point out some of the things I liked and some that I didn't, and I'll leave it for you to decide what the sum total of that is.

    Let's begin with the story. Siege of Dragonspear occurs in the time between the end of Baldur's Gate 1, where the Bhaalspawn is a hero to the people of the Sword Coast, and the beginning of Baldur's Gate 2, where they end up as prisoners in Irenicus' dungeon. It attempts to explain the gap and introduces an adventure of its own to round things up.

    Although the events of SoD seem rather abrupt and convenient, I quite enjoyed the story, as well as most of the side quests that occur during the course of it. My biggest pet peeve would probably be that Irenicus is far too overt. Given the choice, I would prefer for him to be a stalking presence at our feet, whom we never meet directly, but can clearly see the fallout of their passing.

    I also believe that the game's political leanings might cause it not to age that well. Some of the political commentary has been removed since the original release and other parts have been adjusted to be more moderate, which works in the game's favor. I think the refugee issue is handled fairly well, whereas, on the other hand, a transgender person in a world of high magic where permanent gender changes are readily available, remains questionable at best. Other tidbits are scarcely noticeable, not counting Safana's incessant comments.

    The game offers the player a fair amount of freedom in their choices. There are several approaches to almost every problem you encounter. On the other hand, the game also does a fair amount of railroading, especially between chapters, by locking previously accessible areas and not-so-gently pushing you toward the next.

    Also, Caelar is Lawful Stupid. A common trope for a paladin, albeit a rather annoying one, giving her very little depth as a character. And her name is just plain stupid. Caelar Argent. Say that 3 times quickly.

    When it comes to enemies within the game, those who have played other Infinity Engine games will recognize all of them. Even Hell is infested with the same old familiar faces. While the encounters are challenging and mostly fun, I did find it just a little bit disappointing.

    The new companions are mostly okay. I liked Corwin and M'Khiin, whereas I found Voghiln and Glint rather annoying (but they're supposed to be). The award for the most annoying companion goes to Safana, however. I don't know what they were thinking, but I did not enjoy her company at all. Sadly, she's the only straight thief companion in the game and Glint isn't much better company.

    I also feel like I should say something about the art of the game. Music, area graphics, and GUI graphics are mostly on point. The artists have come a long way from the original added areas in BG:EE. It's not all great though. Fog effects can be rather annoying and I don't find them adding much value to the areas. Voice over can also be somewhat uneven at times. Just enough to be distracting.

    The most appreciated content, on my part at least, were the engine improvements. They have enabled me to bring a lot of my mod ideas to life. I would love to see a lot more changes to the engine, to facilitate modding even further, but at this point, I doubt we can expect to see much more.

    Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable experience. It's not without its flaws, but I do appreciate all the effort they've put into it. It's also nice that the story is finally one contiguous whole. On the whole, it's a somewhat reluctant thumbs up from me. :thumb:
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