Tuesday, 20 September 2011

We Get Signal

Postnihilist here.

I just started graduate school, so I haven't been able to game very much. Also the wireless here won't let me either torrent or log onto Steam, so that's a hindrance. My gaming has been absorbed mainly be Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword, and a bit of Far Cry 1.

Far Cry is a great game. I've beaten it twice before, I had thought on the highest difficulty. But I'd enabled something called "Auto AI Balance" which apparently causes the difficulty to downgrade. I don't think I had it enabled the whole time, but either way, it's dubious that I ever beat the whole game on the highest difficulty. I'm trying to now and it seems harder than I remember.

The game has an intuitive, easy to use stealth system which enables game-play. Also you can carry 4 weapons, which is just more fun than the standard two weapon system. There's a real free-form element to game-play. You can approach enemy encampments from several directions usually, or sometimes bypass some enemies entirely. If you bring up your binoculars and scroll over enemies they get added onto your radar, the explanation for which in-game is a bit dodgy but not quite stupid, and either way it's an effective and fun feature. The guns handle well enough, and on high difficulty the lethality of enemies is so extreme that you need to be very careful and approach situations thoughtfully and tactically. I recommend it if you can deal with the somewhat dated graphics. It's also a very long game, which is in this game's case a good thing. The action is only occasionally repetitive, and they put you in a very wide variety of tactical situations.

Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword is a really unique game from my point of view. I finally managed to get a castle rewarded to me by the Crimean Khanate; it took long enough. I'd laid siege to and taken over several castles entirely on my own and eventually I got one rewarded to me. More importantly I got elected as my faction's marshal, so I get to lead the armies fielded by the Crimean lords. Finally our faction is making serious gains under my leadership; we're about to eliminate the Cossack Hetmanate.

There is too much to say about MBwFaS to get into here. The thing is the game format just doesn't have an easy analogue in my gaming experience and vocabulary, so I would have to detail most everything about it to give a proper explanation. One thing I can say is that it has the biggest learning curve of almost any game I've played, and there is also little help to be found online. Still, I'm having tons of fun with it (sort of surprising given how inherently repetitive the action is), so I recommend giving it a serious try if you're not turned off by having to use a clunky interface to have a unique gaming experience.

Keep gaming, it's good for you.


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Still Alive

Postnihilist, gamer.

At the advice of a friend I'm going to attempt to do smaller posts more frequently. Since it has been more than three months since my last post, attaining the latter portion of that regimen should pose no difficulty.

At any rate, here it is.

I have lately been playing SPaZ (space pirates and zombies), MBwFaS (mount and blade with fire and sword), E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy and I'll say a few words about Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The last I haven't played in over a month, but I got through most of the game since my last post, so. In order of mention.

SPaZ is a cheap fun little game. It is around 120 megabytes, so no big strain on... anything, really: neither your wallet nor your machine. Though it does support 1920x1080, which is my native, so that's good. The game progresses a tad slowly; we're talking a serious time investment to get into the meat of the game. I'd say I played for over 10 hours before the zombies were a real part of it, which is surprising. You go from star system to star system, collecting data to go up levels and acquire research points (allowing you to upgrade your ships) and REZ, the galaxy-wide currency. Some kind of mineral. They put some work into the backstory, and it's coherent and moderately interesting and not poorly-written, so why not read it (coming from a guy who often skips these). The characters are immobile portraits with text beside them, so not a lot of characterization. You blow up enemy ships to acquire blue-prints to reverse-engineer them so you can build them. You also buy or steal (by blowing up) new ship parts from either civilian or, well, Federation colonies (the game calls them UAF or something like that but the idea is ubiquitous). I recommend the game. It's cheap and fun. If you don't much like it, it doesn't take long to get your money's worth. And if you stick with it, going from a tiny fleet of shit ships to being kind of a badass who can roll into town and fuck up a space station to get free tech for your fleet, well, that's a good feeling.

Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword is a powerfully simulationist game, concerning a location in space-time that is medieval Eastern Europe. There are guns, but primitive ones, so at a guess I'd call it the mid 1600's (the day someone e-mails me a correction on something I've blogged about will be a very happy one). You start as one guy with a horse, a cheap pistol and a sword, and after many, many hours of playing, you can work your way up to be a medieval lord. I've sunk surely over thirty hours into the game, and possibly over thirty hours into this one character, Nihil Ist, and I still can command only 100 troops in battle and my fief is a small village. The biggest army I've seen was about 300 troops. Hopefully I'll get to that point, but we'll see... the game is such a time hog. In terms of what you need to know to decide if you want to play it: it's very user unfriendly. The UI is awkward and opaque, with certain integral functions a mystery. The very method of advancing your character and yourself in the game is quite obscure. I spent a tremendous amount of time just trading to make money before I realized that having a fief, even a shitty little one, makes you tons of money and you don't have to do anything to get it. The in-game combat is awkward, but not buggy - they've designed a certain kind of system, and they've made it work as well as it can. Like it or lump it. And as the combat system goes, so the game goes: this game is for nerdy or weird people willing to obsessively play a game until the juice comes out.  Of the game, not the person. The juice is tasty, but how hard are you willing to press the fruit? I'm going to drop that analogy now.

E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy is a very stupid game that I've put a lot of time into. In many ways it is what Crysis or Crysis 2 should have been. If these two companies could team up they could do justice to the concept underlying Crysis, but since one company has produced a game with a titular acronym that refers to nothing, and the other company has a budget the size of the previously mentioned bloated metaphor, they will never talk. Also, E.Y.E. can't have been made by English speaking people, at least not native English speaking people. The dialogue is weird and ham-handed in many places and there are simply lots of grammatical errors. It's technically an FPS RPG, though with less RPG elements than Deus Ex. I'm not sure why the ability to customize your character's advancement instantly designates a game as an RPG... it has little to nothing to do with playing a role. Though I suppose people don't call D2 an RPG. I digress. E.Y.E. cost me 20 bucks and I played it for more than 20 hours. I do play games obsessively, apparently, but this game is great if you're after a fun combat sim with some seriously crazy capabilities. It's nothing more than a combat sim I would say, though several missions do require surprisingly close attention and thought to solve. That's an indy game for you I guess. If you do play it, remember that the heavy non-silenced sniper is the strongest gun in the game, and it is the only way you will ever kill a Deus Ex Machine or a 'Copter. 

I don't want to talk much about Dark Messiah. It's an old-school game, with an old-school interface. Imagine a Morrowind-style interface: you point your eyes at objects to highlight them and interact with them. The combat is awkward bordering on brutal, and this coming from a guy who plays most games on the highest difficulty from the get-go. It's just not fun in many cases; you have to redo fights again and again because you're dying from enemies who hit harder and faster. You can get the hang of it, but ghouls are always just death walking. The physics is pretty awesome. You can kick guys off ledges easily and it's rewarding to do so. You can kick 'em into walls too. It's wise to do so. This is a combat-heavy adventure game. There are puzzles and secret areas. If you can pick it up for 5 bucks or less and you have a taste for nostalgic adventure games go for it, but I haven't beaten it and will probably not pick it up again. Although the plot bears special mention as being, in many ways conventional and predictable, but in a crucial way quite divergent. I guess the title gives it away a bit. I had fun with it; you might too.

Brevity! One last comment. I've been playing Darksiders. It's fun, but the combat is rather repetitive. This is a game I sort of want to see through. You play as the apocalyptic horseman War, and you kill lots of demons and some angels. People compared it to God of War extensively, but since I played much more Ninja Gaiden I'd say it's more like Ninja Gaiden. That plus Zelda, Ocarina of Time or any of the iterations past that point. It doesn't take much more to describe it; if you know those games you know this game. It's not very hard, but it's pretty fun. Ninja Gaiden is better, but then Ninja Gaiden is awesome, so there you go. 

I have the intention of updating again before September 15th, but I'm going back to school full-time, so I don't even know how much gaming I'll do. I started this blog talking about Baldur's Gate, and I may some day finish the erratic train of thought I started there, but don't hold your breath. (I'm also going to write something about metaphor soon, for my own pleasure. Count the metaphors in the preceding non-parenthetical sentence!)

Postnihilist out.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

More Games

Postnihilist, gamer.

I'm going to talk about several different games here. I haven't finished BG2 yet, though I have some comments there, with regard to a comparison to BG1. I've been playing Crysis 2, Bulletstorm (PC), and I finished Portal 2, so comments on all of those will also be here.

Baldur's Gate 1 was dramatic, well-paced and kept a healthy mystery about it's main and only important antagonist. Baldur's Gate 2 is melodramatic, also well-paced but causes irreparable damage to its antagonist by cosntantly revealing his doings and powers to the player. This is the thesis, and with more patience, I might establish it thoroughly, but tonight I'm sort of tired already so I'm just going to go over some major points which will be appreciable only to people who've played these games and know them. I don't call this blog Games for Gamers because I'm here to tell you about things you don't know about.

We receive one movie about Sarevok in BG1, where he kills the player's foster father Gorion, rather brutally. That's it, until much, much later in the game, where we see him give a speech in front of major Baldur's Gate dignitaries. We see him fight twice: at the beginning of the game, where scope is utterly meaningless, given there is nothing meaningful to compare it to: the player is level 1 and has never seen the abilities of a character of a higher level. When next we fight, it is at the final confrontation in the game (the game actually stops, dismally, after this fight. You can't keep on, last I played it this was true). You hear two rumours of Sarevok's prowess throughout the game to my knowledge, though I actually remember only one direct rumour. The point being the man is thoroughly shrouded in mystery. He's a monster who killed your godfather but going after him is reasonable in the way that being a hero is reasonable: your ignorance fuels you in the way a beaver's short-tern memory keeps him working until he's built a massive dam.

Well, contrast to BG2. We start the game with an in-game movie about Irenicus experimenting on you. How nice. Well, he doesn't demonstrate ridiculous power here, so credit where it's due, I suppose. The first time you see this movie, it is pretty sweet. However, before the first chapter of the game is complete we see Irenicus lay utter waste to many eminently powerful mages, and submit to their authority out of, apparently, boredom and expediency. His omnipotence is established in more concrete terms than Sarevok's ever was: Sarevok only seemed strong as hell because he killed a damn-strong opponent: maybe this fight nearly killed him, we don't know. Whereas with Irenicus we have no reason to suspect that his enemies even touch him, because we're given to dream sequences as well as 3rd person omniscient perspective cut-scenes of him pwning ass (And by the way, these cut-scenes were just dumb as hell. If you cut them out entirely this would be a stronger game). He casts spells with a 1 or 2 casting time that instantly kill whoever he directs them at. Well, all I can say is thank god he never thinks to use that dangerous bugger on the player.

Also, with Irenicus we get this whole song-and-dance backstory about his love affair with the queen of the elves, and how he used to be an elf until his power-lust led him to try to usurp the elven gods, and in his wretched, cursed state he blah blah jesus christ go stuff a turd down your throat you whiny bitch. We never heard an ass-hair of an inkling of Sarevok's backstory, in emotional terms at least. So he was raised by the leader of the Iron Throne mercantile group. Is that why he decided a genocide of national scale was a good idea? Who the hell knows? Maybe he was just born crazy. We have no clue. It's obvious the guy was incredibly evil and evil in the worst kind of way: a true prodigy of the Lord of Murder, Bhaal, Sarevok sought only the death of as many people as possible. Whereas Irenicus? ... Well... looks like all he needed was a warm hug and cup of hot milk from his elven once-lover to get back to beddy-bye and resume a normal life. I am trying to cut down on expletives as I noticed my last post exploded a bit in them toward the end, but F**k that. It's f**king weak. I'm not going to go into arguments as to why this further exposition is not worthwhile unless I'm asked to by readers, as I think it's perfectly obvious that the antagonist's story in BG1 is far, far superior to the story in BG2. God, those cut-scenes! Maybe you could have left it as a mystery to the player whether Irenicus actually went through the Underdark? Maybe left us wondering what his motives would have been to do so, if he had done so? But no... just reveal all these utterly crucial plot questions in a short stupid cut-scene. Thanks, developers. I was maybe 15 when I first played this game, and it insulted my intelligence then.

Don't be afraid to have a backbone as a game designer, and strike out at a bold new direction. The reason we doubt it will sell well is because it is a bold new direction. If your marketing people and producers feel like they have to kick you back into line, you should fire them or quit. Games are the most compelling art form of human existence. They can achieve higher levels of involvement than anything that has come before. Don't sell your talent to the highest bidder.

Ok, so, Portal 2. Yahtzee's, that is, Zero Punctuation, his review pretty much had it on the nose. The game is great and well-worth playing. Since his review is easily available online, I won't add too much to it, just what I think was left out. First, the helper-guy, the British ball-of-steel A.I. who ends up trying to kill you (spoiler, but if those bother you you can f**k off), his emotional tone changes not a decimal place between evil, monomaniacal psychopath and bumbling, well-intentioned side-kick. That's probably intentional, but I find it unhelpful. Perhaps GlaDos's own change in emotional timbre is intended to be the focus of all this. And as it goes, I have no real criticism there, except to say that where in Portal she came off as actually an A.I., that is, a computer program, whereas in Portal 2, she seems more like an actual human being who's just a bit socially inept and hates you. It's a bit flat, is my point. Also, Yahtzee hit the nail on the head when he complained about the lengthy walking around sections of show-casing the massive artistic wanks of Portal 2. They're not necessary, and though impressive, they are fluff, which should always be cut. Cut it out, fellas.

Portal 2's puzzles are also a bit odd. Most of them are 2-3 step puzzles. It's possible my memory is foggy with regard to Portal, but in that game I seem to recall that there was usually more to it. You'd figure out a piece at a time to be sure, but it would take many-a-piece to finish a puzzle (the more advanced puzzles, certainly). In Portal 2 it is usually the case that, for any puzzle you find difficult, this is simple because there is one little trick or gimmick that you have over-looked, and once you have figured it out the rest of puzzle is easy as a well-aimed piss that you quick-saved before and have to reload if you splash or miss. The point is, it's kind of annoying to spend an hour or so bashing your head against a puzzle, only to try some random move for kicks, or come back to it the next day to realize something, and then all of a sudden, in one move, you've practically solved the thing. They could have gone a bit more complicated. The most difficult puzzle for me, for the reason that I failed to comprehend where I was supposed to go, was in the installation shafts working with all three different goos.

Crysis 2 is the first game but better, more or less. I'd say more rather than less. People seemed to really like Crysis, which surprised me because I didn't. Yahtzee raved about the visuals, especially with respect to the alien spaceship, but I thought that while the graphical detail was well-done, the design itself was very pedestrian and derivative. I don't want to sound like an art-snob, and I know you can't not sound that way when you call something "pedestrian and derivative", so I guess I'm going to have to lie in the bed I've made for myself. But I don't know about art in any formal way, I just know that Metroid Prime 2 had amazing art insofar as though the graphics were lesser than the Xbox, the design of the levels and visuals was astounding and beautiful, and while Crysis had great graphics and detail, so did Oblivion, and we all know how the art direction on that game sucked noodles (ok, the architectural pieces were pretty cool,. but it all came to feeling way too much like artifice: not a trace of the organic, real-world feel one gets from Morrowind). I've mainly talked about art, but I have a few other points. Crysis 2, as a game (I'm playing 2 on the highest difficultly and played 1 on the same) has a better understanding of the player's abilities and how to deal with them. The ability to uncloak, shoot a guy in the head, and cloak again existed in both games, but whereas it made the game sort of a joke in Crysis, it's just an anticipated maneuver in Crysis 2. The ability to upgrade my suit with alien... goo... seems very cool, but I'm saving all my... goo... up for a great big upgrade, so I have no meaningful commentary here. Though it's weird as hell how some aliens have it and some don't. Lastly, for Crysis 2, the story is better, though still sort of weird. I like how Crysis 2 seems to have quite a coherent plot that they just don't spend a ton of time explaining patiently to the player, unlike most games, which have stupid plots that they hammer into the players skulls with stupid, expository dialogue. It's classy. Like Ghost in The Shell. This game is great, people should buy it if they liked Crysis, or any other CryEngine game.

Lastly, I promised a few words about Bulletstorm. I think this game sucks. Which isn't to say that it is a terrible game, or that no one would like it, or that no one should but it. All I'm saying is that I think it sucks. And I do. It really, really sucks. The whole point system for special kills gimmick is cool, and I don't mind buying the in-game explanation for it: it's so obviously a nonsensical  work-in for the thing that who cares how much sense it makes. But the A.I., aiming system, and overall the whole combat sensation doesn't work for this "special kills" system. Maybe it's because I'm playing on the highest difficultly, but while I can aim for the balls, in order that once my enemy is prostrate with pain I can kick his head off his shoulders, Once I've done it once I got the big point payoff, and aiming that closely was stupidly difficult for a game where automatics have almost no recoil. Look here, Unreal Tournament (the original) is the purest shooter ever made, and many games, including this one, could learn from it. Some guns have recoil, none have so much of it you get disoriented. The f**king background should be just that, a f**king background. It's only typing this now that I realize how infuriated I've been with this game for putting too much eye-catching and utterly unbeautiful and uninspiring detail into their environments, that it gets hard to easily identify the enemies. Next, while the main character, Grey-"something" is pretty cool in my opinion, he very quickly loses all of that when he loses any foil that lets his character make sense. The game opens with him and a fellow alcoholic murderer intimidating a victim to get information. Well, cool. There are people like that: I'm playing as a genuine bad man, here. But very very quickly, all the interesting characters (the drinking buddy and surly doctor/tech-head) are killed, and you're left with a guy who, though he earlier states he had sworn to serve you but would not die for your revenge fantasy (though as you pushed that agenda forward right in front of him he raised no further objection), he immediately turns to almost killing you and hating you very seriously because your decisions (which again, he didn't really try to stop) led to the death of your crew. He's utterly humourless, sober, sombre, and makes a terrible foil for the main character's gimmick; that of a drunken, jolly, cruel and violent mercenary. His lines are all delivered with the same dead-pan anger and loathing, which, given that the man continually works with you, follows direction and gives advice, comes across as nothing at all but petty whining. Grow a pair my friend. You'll threaten my life and push me around if I'm pushing you, but you never actually do anything do you? No, you follow me like you always did. I wonder if his oath to serve Grey-"whatever" was just an oath to be the "straight-man" comical foil. But Grey isn't funny enough to need a straight man. He's not funny at all, really. There can be some gritty pleasure in watching a drunken psycho be himself, but it's not a laugh and a half. I keep on wondering why Gray doesn't either kill Ishi or tell him to shut the f**k up.

So that's today's post. Dee-lightful. Again, quite long I know, and as last time, unedited. I'll have a few finishing words on BG2 when I finish it, probably nothing to add to Bulletstorm since I don't like the game and am sick of it, and a wrap-up of Crysis 2 which I intend to finish soon. Also, there are just... so many games I can see in my quick-launch bar that, old though they may be, I don't have a big enough following (any at all, I believe) to censor who or what I review here. So, look forward to it, vast internet emptiness, because a week from now you'll have another 2500 words on various games.

I'm playing Far Cry 2 right now as well, which I think was quite under-rated as games go, and would have been less so if the developers had stuck to their guns with the original design which, I believe, did not include a quick-save function. Immersion was the (middle) name of the game here, Far Immersion Cry 2. Rolls off the tongue. Anyway, while it makes the game tougher (especially on max difficulty, the way I play almost all FPS games) it brings the players closer into it. But enough on that.

Keep playing, it's good for you.

Postnihilist out.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Just begun

Postnihilist, gamer.

I recently restarted the Baldur's Gate series, and have a few things to say about its superiority over BG2.

I just finished running through Baldur's Gate 1 with a fighter/thief, elf. I was True Neutral, but ramped up my alignment to 20 as soon as possible for the better prices. I couldn't take anyone evil in the party because of this, so Edwin was out. Frankly, in this game, the mage is not so important, so Dynaheir did just fine. Anyway, I found all the tomes for characteristic improvement, which is nice. BG1 is the best game of this series.

I just imported my guy to BG2, using the little trick of pausing in the first moment of gameplay in order that I could actually import items from BG1, so I've got that advantage. Playing on hard makes me feel better about this small cheat. Anyway, I was immediately chagrined by BG2's story and method of introduction.

BG1 starts you off in an eminently safe haven. Given that it's the start of the game and you've experienced nothing else of the game world, you don't realize just how safe Candlekeep is compared with everywhere else. Of course there are those two raggedy assassins you run into if you explore the whole place, but the quests are so pastoral and silly, it's hard not to see how simple life was there. (By the way, if you have enough lockpick you can find a star sapphire in the inn in candlekeep. If you start as a dwarf with a level in thief and pump everything into lockpick you can get this thing at level 1. It's worth 1000 so it's pretty cool.) Anyway, this post isn't intended to be about BG1, so I'll cut it off shortly. The point is the plot in BG1 has this essential characteristic: no matter who you are or what your motivation is, you always have a good reason to go to the next plot related area. Part of the reason for this is the assassins who dog you constantly, and the other reason is that the central plot is the only real game in town.

By comparison, BG2 starts you in, basically, a mad scientists lab as a pet project. It's good that they mixed it up, right? This is a sequel after all and they can hardly go in the same direction. I'm not sure what to think about the way this decides the tone for the rest of the game. You break out, and Irenicus abducts Imoen. Well, boo-hoo. Personally, I've decided that my character (and actually most characters I've played have shared in this, no marks for creativity on my part) really cares about Imoen, because she's the only link he has to his own past and childhood. So I do genuinely want to rescue her. On the other hand, I'm true neutral.

What happened to her, that is her abduction, can reasonably be construed as her own fault, what with provoking and attacking Irenicus after we break out and find him battling mages. I've been traveling with her for a while (all through Baldur's Gate (hey, I had no score in find traps)) and maybe I've gotten tired of her constant looking back. She's extremely needy in the beginning dungeon, also retrospective, neither of which is even slightly helpful to the situation you find yourself in. So, the point of all this is, Almost any given character could very reasonably just say to himself, "well, that's life", and let Imoen fade to black. After all, she appears to have been taken by an immensely powerful local law institution.

The other motive to chase Irenicus is that he talks about your "untapped power". I admit in my first play-through I found this rather appealing, so I have to give them credit, even if it holds zero draw for me now as character motivation. The guy locks you in a cage and does experiments that generally involve inflicting damage on you. Even though, as a player, I thought more power would be cool, most actual game characters would not see this as a draw to follow the guy.

Already we've lost one of the two essential points which drew us onward in the plot of BG1; the main story just isn't a draw for many characters who'd start this game, if neither power nor a childhood friend is enough to make them spend 20 000 gold to rescue her (find him). It bears saying that Irenicus never ever sends assassins after you, though at one point, after you've chased him through the Underdark, he sends Bodhi after you, this confrontation leads to Bodhi's death.

I'd like to take a brief aside to mention something else that was utterly galling in the first few hours of gameplay. Immediately after leaving the first area you find yourself in after the starting dungeon, you're accosted by a man who, no matter what you say to him, you will follow to his house, even though he gives you many reasons not to and is very suspicious (he knows everything that's happened to you up to this point, and seems to be a thief). Not only this, but once in his house, no matter what conversation options you follow, you will agree to employ the organization he represents, the SHADOW THIEVES, 20 000 gold to find Imoen. So, in a few hours into the game, you agree to pay 20 000 gold to thieves to help you find a renegade mage who appears immensely powerful, and your childhood friend, both of whom are captives of a big 'ole legal institution run by mages. Great. They're thnieves. Shadow thieves in particular, but Shadow is not the word that bears attending to. By definition they take things from people without remorse or renumeration. And the player character can't avoid promising them 20 000 gold? It's an eminently stupid idea.

First off, the thief (Gaelan Bayle) does talk you into the idea that the Shadow Thieves and only them can help you find Irenicus and save Imoen. I've already mentioned that this is something many characters and players may not really want to do, but what the hey. So, he gets us there? I guess so. But the guy's a fucking thief. And we're promising him tons of money. We don't know where their hideout is. We could torch his house if he rips us off I guess, but fuck me, with that much money he could buy a hundred such houses. They're thieves! They are almost certainly ripping you off!! It turns out they're not ripping you off, but that's actually a point against the game for being stupid rather than a point in it's favour for being nice.

The last thing I want to say here is that there are about 10 major, time-consuming quests that are available in Athkatla (the starting city) before you go after Irenicus. You can acquire a "stronghold" no matter what class you are, which provides a permanent residence, and if you do all the quests, probably around 60 000 gold and a wide array of powerful items. There are just so many reasons not to leave Athkatla and chase after this obviously game-breakingly powerful mage and your little sister (she's also a child of Bhaal). The main quest in BG2 is not the only game in town, in fact, if you only did the main quest, you'd find the game extremely spare in content. In BG1 you'd be missing a lot of content for sure, but only the main quest offers the dungeons, the best booty, and the opportunity to do something your character really cares about. In BG2, the main quest is kind of just... what you have to do. It's like in a D&D adventure, when your DM puts a fucking golden exclamation mark over a guys head. Ok, man, I get it, but like... we're RPGing because it has greater possibilities than that, you know?

Anyway. Long fucking rant I know, but one that's been in me for a few years. More on BG2 forthcoming probably, and the series at any rate (Throne of Bhaal gets way, way worse). And definitely more on other games.