Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
a game by Blizzard Entertainment
As gods (or fallen angels) go Bhaal definitely gets about a bit - he even made it into Diablo II: Lord Of Destruction, although he appears to have lost a 'h' along the way. As god of murder you'd think he'd be too busy indulging in the dark arts to engage in any between the sheets action, but no. You see, way back in the first Baldur's Gate you thought you were the only Bhaal offspring until you met your nemesis, who also happened to be your brother. Then in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows Of Amn you found you had a little Bhaal sister. Now in this latest expansion pack, Throne Of Bhaal, the dramatic final few chapters of the phenomenal Baldur's Gate series, you find there are hundreds of the buggers running around the place, with all the Bhaalspawn intending to kill each other off for control of their father's throne.
The expansion pack picks up the storyline at the end of BGII and can be played separately or as an integrated part of the BGII game. Throne Of Bhaal starts with the most comprehensive party creation structure seen so far.
Not only do you have the option of importing an old party, or creating a new one (stats will be automatically bumped up and you'll be provided with a goodie bag of nifty weaponry), you can also summon a character from Shadows Oа Amn if you fancy a change. You'll also meet up with an old foe who offers to join your party, a tad surprising as you thought you'd offed him ages ago - not that death is any guarantee of a peaceful life in Baldur's Gate.
Brand Spanking New
Among the new features in Throne Of Bhaal are super-abilities for 20+ characters and ten new devastating spells for your higher level mages and clerics, including Bigby's Crunching Hand and the Wish spell. There are also a fair amount of magical weapons and items to be found. One of the most appealing aspects for dedicated players will be the new higher setting of the experience point capping, so characters can now reach up to level 40, which is as close to godlike as you can get.
Unfortunately there's only one new character kit to choose from, the Wild Mage, who comes with unpredictable surges of magical energy that can be helpful or harmful and even change the caster's gender. Personally I'd like to have seen more new character kits as they were one of the most enduring features of BGII.
I Dedicated My Life Todeard
The expansion pack offers at least 30 hours of gameplay, depending on your dedication to the Church Of Beard, and with vast areas like the Watcher's Keep Dungeon to explore, it's definitely worth playing through a few times. In fact, there are a number of elements that actually surpass the original BGII, such as more realistic social environments where NPCs get on with their daily lives and the sheer number of epic battles. In fact, it's much more detailed, from the lushly rendered landscape to the kooky little things that BioWare likes to inject. At one point I'm sure I was attacked by a killer chinchilla, but that could just have been down to the combined effects of ProPlus and cheese string.
All in all Throne OfBhaalis a flourishing finish to the Children of Bhaal saga and one that won't disappoint fans of the series. However, it's best to have a great deal of gameplay experience under your belt before attempting it because the battles are some of the most challenging ever seen in the Baldur's Gate world.
2018-11-05 Diablo II: Lord of Destruction game added.