Baldur’s Gate 2 Update

I only recently did a post about what I was playing recently but this weekend (while trying to unwind and de-stress) I had a novel experience.

If you’ve never played Baldur’s Gate then you probably don’t know that in the game you assemble a party as you wander about and you can change party members as you go (though to be honest once I pick a team I pretty much stick with them – mostly because I get attached and also because I like how their stories play out). Yes, as you meander about your missions certain events trigger dialogue between either yourself and your party members or between different party members and depending on a few factors (whether you are good, neutral or evil, your current reputation status, and whether you reply correctly or callously to their dialogue) the stories will go in different directions.

As a teen, I always played a chaotic good character. It meant I mostly had a good reputation but could sometimes just take the violent is better approach to the whole situation as long as morally I had the high ground. That meant I tended to choose characters for my party that were either good or neutral to varying degrees.

As an adult, and wanting more of a challenge from a game I’ve played many times through, I decided to see if I could maintain a neutral status throughout the game and have been picking both good and evil characters for my party. This resulted in a few unexpected and never seen before developments.

Firstly, I had a character leave my party. He just upped and left when we got to the end of his storyline. That’s never happened to me before as usually my character ends up in a semi-romance with the guy and he follows me around the entire country-side. But no, he has a little temper tantrum and storms off the screen and suddenly my character can’t move because she’s carrying literally his entire inventory (including a shield that he is the only one who can use and you can’t even sell the thing).

I’d always strived to placate party members before when tensions arose and I’d never actually had the experience of a party member deserting. Being ditched by an NPC actually kind of hurts, as ridiculous as that might sound.

The second thing that happened was two of my party members got into a fight and one of them literally killed the other before turning and politely asking if I wanted to continue travelling together. Um…

One of my party members was just turned into pixellated chunks of debris on the ground of the dungeon I was exploring and the person responsible wants to know if we are going to continue travelling together. And here’s the thing. I could have said no. But then I was going to be two party members short and stuck in a dungeon. As it is, I’m going to have to very carefully back-track and recruit someone new who hopefully won’t try to kill the rest of my party before I can progress.

So while I’m finding the difficulty of Baldur’s Gate nowhere near what I remember having managed to even kill the Shadow Dragon without particular difficulty, it turns out that not being a goody-two-shoes or worrying about my party composition does actually hinder progress quite significantly. I can’t wait to see what happens as I progress the story with the rest of the crazy loons I’ve recruited into the party this time.


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Karandi James.

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What I’m Playing: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow’s of Amn

I haven’t done a gaming post for awhile and that’s mostly because I restarted Baldur’s Gate II. This was one of my favourite games when I was in highschool and I literally dropped hundreds of hours into playing it. The worse thing was that after several upgrades to my computer system my original game discs were no longer compatible and I had to put aside the very large manual that had come with the game and finally move on. Thank you to enhanced editions and now I am back to this game and to be honest I have had it sitting on the computer for awhile but I started playing it again recently because of how stressed I’ve been. There’s something very comforting about revisiting an old favourite game.

That isn’t to say it is all smooth sailing. Mostly because I am much better at games now then I was then and to be honest even on a higher difficulty setting than I ever played it on back when, I’m kind of breezing through most quests. My character is a thief/mage half-elf and this is kind of my default, don’t make me decide, character. I have played through as a cleric, shaman, and various specialty mage types but I’ve never taken on a warrior character. I’m also pretty boring in that I’ve only played as a human or half-elf. Sure there’s other options but I enjoy my game.

I did actually create a warrior character this time and have him in my party. He’s kind of boring but a pretty effective tank. He’s backed by a cleric in most fights and then I’ve got various spell casters of various types (both priest and mage) backing them from a distance (okay, I don’t like close combat and that would be why I tend to suck at these games). Still, there’s something immensely satisfying about ensuring your warriors are protected from fire and then just lobbing in fire balls until all the enemies go poof.

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I’ve been avoiding the main storyline so even though I raised my 20000 gold ages ago, I have been back to pay for the information about where Imoen was taken. Instead I’m pretty much exploring everything and doing any side quest I can. I’ve saved the keep from the trolls, and fought off the druids who were sending animals into Trademeet (yeah, I like that Trademeet raise a statue of you as thanks), protected the wild mages from the Red Wizards (kind of – there may have been a few additional casualties) and currently I’m running a branch of the thieves guild. Still plenty to do and while I don’t really have a lot of free time, an hour of this really leaves me feeling quite calm and content.

I am however looking forward to unleashing some more powerful magic spells once I level my character up enough. The other thing I want to test is whether they ever fixed the glitch in the game that allows you to keep your equipment if you start a new game with an imported character provided you pause the game after the first scream and drop everything on the ground. That was always kind of fun to start the game with some decent equipment.

So that is what I’m playing. I’m going to finish smashing my way through the graveyard and then I might hit the Umar Hills and see what trouble I can stir up there.


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Karandi James.

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Recovery of an MMO Junkie Episode 7: Sakurai’s Hesitation

Review:

I know some people will hate this episode and just want to swat Sakurai for being spineless, and yet for me this was a fantastic episode. We see the story from Sakurai’s point of view and he knows what he wants but he is incredibly worried about all the things that can go wrong and so he is essentially becoming paralysed with indecision. Although, most would note that if he’d said something earlier the situation would never have gotten to this point as it is going to get more and more awkward to say something later.

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The only downside of this episode was Koiwai. I get why he is needed from a plot point of view given he’s been the catalyst for every actual bit of progress in the story, but he’s a really annoying character. And introducing him into the game world didn’t help that impression given now he can be annoying online and in real life.

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Still, this is close to the finish as it is a short season and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all resolves. I genuinely like both Morioka and Sakurai’s characters and I really hope we’re headed for a happy ending.

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Karandi James.

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Recovery of an MMO Junkie Episode 6: What is Sakurai Doing?

Review:

So far this show had managed to avoid having characters act too stupidly with Sakurai figuring out fairly readily that with all those similarities Hayashi kind of had to be Morioka. I kind of appreciated that. And then we get this week where Sakurai has the perfect moment to fess up and tell how he knew she would be at the station for a date that wasn’t happening until the next day and instead he calls it a coincidence.

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Although, this show does deserve points for taking six episodes before it made me want to scream at one of the characters. Despite that, I still actually really like Sakurai as a character and kind of hope he fesses up next week (though it seems likely now they will drag this out until the end – which isn’t that far away because isn’t this only ten episodes?).

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Koiwai continues to push both Morioka and Sakurai’s buttons and I’m convinced now he is just trying to help them out, while having a bit of fun. What I haven’t figured out is whether he actually plays the game with them yet. I don’t think so, but who knows.

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Very little time is spent in game this week and to be honest, that is to the show’s advantage as the real world drama is far more interesting at this point in time and punctuating it with small snippets from the game world just works so much better than spending half an episode with the characters playing the game rather than dealing with their real world issues. This show remains fun and charming and while I really did want to shake Sakurai this week I’m still hoping for a happy outcome for him.


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Karandi James.

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Gamers Episode 9: Another Needless Complication

Review:

For one brief shining moment it looked like the complication hanging over from last week, Chiaki realising that Keita was actually the guy she was talking to online who liked her games, would be cleared up and we’d move on. In a feat that would have been totally unexpected of this show at this point in time.

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And then she decides to do something stupid and we’re plunged into yet another plot twist that serves really no purpose other than to stretch this out for the full season. Of course, this heavy focus on Keita and Chiaki comes at the expense of Tendou and Aguri and to be honest I kind of missed them during this episode.

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The other issue is that the look of the show took a dive this week with characters regularly looking either incomplete or a little askew and even though this show has only ever been average in appearance, it was noticeably of lesser quality this week.

While I’m still having fun with this show, this episode really did feel lazy. From the obvious extend the tension twist and the characters now just acting needlessly dense in order to sustain the complications, and other characters just not appearing at all, it wasn’t great.


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Karandi James.

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Gamers Episode 7: That’s What I Like About You

Review:

This episode saw the ongoing misunderstandings continue to fester but rather than wallowing on that note for the whole episode we get to go on a date with Karen and Amano which is both adorable and hilarious. It culminates with them admitting to the other what they admire about each other and to be honest this episode did a lot to clear up my own thoughts about this show.

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While this isn’t the show I though it was going to be after the first episode and given it has continually veered off of any projected plot I’ve considered, there’s something utterly charming about Amano (even though he’s beyond socially awkward and just a little bit pessimistic). Seeing him on the date this episode really just reinforced how much I like seeing this character continue to push outside of his comfort zone even as there are some points he refuses to compromise on.

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While it is inevitable that we’ll have to have all of the character misconceptions either cleared up or blow up at some point, right now this episode was just light hearted entertainment as we watch Tendou over think playing in a pool (though her version of the couple splashing each other with water seemed infinitely more fun than what the other couple were doing) and Amano just second guess everything.

I’m going to just admit I really am loving watching this. It would certainly be easy to pick fault with it as a show, but it leaves me smiling each and every week and I’m still absolutely digging the game themed music that permeates the episodes.


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Karandi James.

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Gamers Episode 5: This Makes Me Wonder If Being Socially Inept is Contagious?

Review:

I’m kind of in a bind with this show. I really like watching the episodes… but, looking at this episode objectively I really shouldn’t be enjoying this. The characters are all acting too stupid for words, too stupid even for cliché gamer characters with limited social skills, and they seem to be acting stupider by the minute. I should be annoyed, exasperated, or eye-rolling and bored, and yet I’m laughing.

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At this point each character thinks every other character has a thing for every other character and none of them have a clue who actually likes them and it is all just kind of depressing when you think about it. It would be slightly better if even one character knew who had a crush on them and just didn’t like them back, but no, instead every character is living is blissful ignorance of reality and imposing their own misinterpreted view on events.

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The game club is almost a non-entity in this show now as these characters who rejected it are now having ‘meet-ups’ apparently to discuss gaming but more to manipulate the relationships just a little bit more. All and all it is messy and the narrative is really going nowhere because we’re just watching these characters go through the train-wreck that is their attempt at a social life.

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Still, between the upbeat, game themed music in the background, and the absolutely serious way our main character delivers lines that are completely going to be misconstrued, I’m having a really good time watching this show. This was not a good episode from a character or story point of view, but it was fun and maybe for this season that is enough.


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Karandi James.

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