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BG2/SoA - The Darkest Day Mod Review

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by olimikrig, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. olimikrig

    olimikrig Cavalier of War Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    The Darkest Day
    Version: 1.05 WeiDU, Fixpack #6 applied (Can be used with or without Throne of Bhaal).
    Review first posted: 17/12-05
    Last updated:
    Download location: http://iegmc.mirror.intermedia.com.sg/tdd-weidu/


    Index
    • Content
    • Dialogue
    • Gameplay
    • Visuals
    • Compatibility
    • Bugs and oddities
    • Summary

    Content

    The Unofficial Baldur's Gate II Module "The darkest Day" (TDD from hereon) was first released back in late 2001. Back then there hadn't really been that many major IE (Infinity Engine) mods, so its creators were indeed pioneers within the world of IE modding!
    Even by today's standards, TDD is a very big mod that adds loads of hours of gameplay to your game.
    One of the first changes that one will discover when playing TDD, is a slightly (and I mean slightly) improved chateau Irenicus.
    You will quickly spot a new monster: The Bugbear. These are scattered around in the hallways. Though difficulty-wise they're not that big a change, it is nice not having to wither away in a boring Goblin slaying frenzy, and instead actually get a little opposition. Besides that it's mostly just minor improvements. For example, there's not one but three Otyughs in the sewer room. Furthermore you're up for a little surprise at the end of Irenicus' infamous dungeon.
    Overall one cannot say that there's much of a "read thread" throughout TDD. It is simply just a bunch of areas added on top of those already present in the game. These areas, like the original ones, hold various sub-quests; one large for each of the four new major areas (Purskal, Espuertha, Riatvin and Trollfold Hills) and various minor ones. Each of the four larger sub-quests will take you on a hunt throughout various areas that most often won't be presented on the world map; thus, the only means of escape that you will have is by either finding the way to the end, or going back the way you came in.
    Aha, but wait brave spammers and lurkers alike! There is more... Probably the most eye-catching change that TDD introduces is a new mammoth end-game quest that involves visiting a certain well known keep of monks located near Baldur's Gate.
    Most of the dialogue in TDD is of decent quality; I have seen worse, and I have seen better.
    However there are quite some typos and weird sentence structures that should have been corrected considering how long this mod has been out there.
    The only dialogue (one of the only banters that I've discovered) that really bugged me was Viconia (whom I romanced) ranting on about her seeking love on the surface. Suffice to say I found her very un-Viconia like in that particular dialogue.


    Gameplay

    Difficulty-wise TDD is somewhat average. One thing that bugged me though is that the creators seem to have relied more upon sheer numbers than good AI scripting.
    A good example of the Poor AI is a creature called a "Frost Worm". These pests throw Cones of Cold at whoever attacks them. The only problem is that that was the *only* thing they did! So I could just move my characters up so they were just within missile weapon range and fire away, seeing as the cone did not travel far enough to actually damage us.
    I found TDD to be very black and white. In most (if not all) of the quests you would have two options: To do the quest (which was always the good path), or not to. I personally dislike not having a choice as to how I would want to go around a quest, but not being able to pump money, items, etc. out of the NPC's in return for my favours was an even bigger minus in my book..
    The NPC's added in TDD are very two-dimensional. None of them have more than a handful of banter (that I saw) related to the quests that come along with them. They mostly just keep their mouth shut and don't interact with either each other or the original Bioware NPC's. Besides, they are actually not as good as the regular NPC's (in my opinion) and thus not really worth the while.
    As you may know, TDD adds loads of new kits to the game as well. Personally I find most of them to be fairly decent, though maybe a wee bit overpowered. On my first run-through I used a thief subclass called the Ninja. This guy turned out to be ridiculously overpowered. The disadvantages did not come anywhere near matching the advantages of this class. As I realized this, I decided that I wanted to try to reach the class’s full potential; this I did by dual-classing to mage at level sixteen (an odd level, yes). At level sixteen I had Grand Mastery in Short swords, one points in two-weapon fighting, a base AC of 3! Add on top of that the Robe of Vecna, a ring of Protection +2, and one sword that gives +1 AC, throw a spirit armor and cast the ninja's Harm Evasion, and you've got yourself an AC of -22! This guy, naturally, ended up being my main tank (he could tank any creature alone).
    As for items, TDD adds loads of them, a lot of which are pretty task specific (x vs. good, x. vs. race, etc.). Most of them are somewhat unbalanced, others are fine, and again others are completely worthless. I don't really have that much more to say about the items, besides that I personally didn't like the task specific concept behind many of the weapons. This is more of a personal thing, though.
    TDD also adds a lot of new spells: arcane and divine alike. I found many of them to be quite unbalanced, for example one spell would wipe an entire area of creatures of a specific race. As many of the areas in Baldur's Gate II (and TDD) are often overpopulated by a specific race, this spell seems ridiculous to me (imagine casting *that* in say De'Arnise Keep...). Though I never really did try the spell out all that much, I would imagine that you could basically kill any creature with this spell. Got dragon problems? Throw a spell and down it goes...
    The only thing that I can say I really hated about TDD is that none of the quests give a journal update! It is really annoying having to remember everything that everyone tells you, especially if you have to stop in the middle of a quest.


    Visuals

    TDD adds loads of casting animations to the game. Most of which are blatantly "stolen" from other IE games such as IWD (1 and 2) and BG1. Others are combinations of different spell animations, though these are most often used in cutscenes wherein special spells, such as an exorcism, are thrown.
    Overall I disliked most of the animations. More often than not the animations seemed rather odd (especially the cutscene spells mentioned above); others were just downright ugly and annoying to look upon.


    Compatibility

    Back in the days when TeamBG ruled the modding stage, compatibility was very much of an issue; but Wesley Weimer's WeiDU changed all that! TDD in its WeiDU revised form is very compatible with most mods out there. Amongst others, I tried TDD with "Dungeon-Be-Gone", "Kelsey" and "BoM item pack", none of which caused the slightest bug as far as I could tell... TDD will probably also be compatible with most other WeiDU based mods. However, there are still some things that one ought to keep in mind whenever attempting to add other mods on top of TDD! First of all, and probably most importantly, TDD adds (as mentioned above) a large sequence to the end-game of SoA. Therefore you may want to watch out with other mods that either a) add to the end-game sequence (this is after you've defeated Irenicus in Hell), or b) add areas to the world map without taking the locations of TDD areas under consideration.


    Bugs and oddities

    This section is simply a small list of oddities I’ve found while playing TDD.
    • I was unable to enter Purskal through regular means (simply to travel there), and had to use "CLUAConsole:MoveToArea("DD1900")" to get there. Later on, however, the bug seemed to correct it self. It is rather odd, agreed, but I can't really say more about it as it is.
    • Mae'Var's picture was messed up. I could only see what looked like the upper left of it.
    • My PC was presented in all the cutscenes. That is in spite of the fact that he wasn't even in the same area as the one the cutscene happened in. Not that it does anything, it just gives the mod an overall unprofessional look.
    • In cutscenes wherein one character was required to say a short sentence, you would most often have all the presented characters say the very same phrase. Not really a bug, I guess, but rather odd nevertheless.
    • In one scene, a Gnome named Marcus is catching a budgie for you. A cutscene begins, and a bird appears. He encages the bird and gives it to you as supposed. The only problem is that the bird is still there when the cutscene ends! And it stays there.
    • Watcher’s Keep appeared on top of the Underdark exit on the world map, and whenever moving the cursor over the picture it flickered between using the WK map animation and then the Sahuagin City.
    • Scrolls of conversion did not work at all.

    Summary

    It is very seldom that one cannot look back on a mod one just played, without the feeling that one would have done something differently in some of the aspects. Therefore, whenever I try to give others a good picture of what I really thought about the mod, I try to go back and re-discover the feeling the mod gave me when I played it.
    In spite of the heavy critique TDD has got throughout the time it has been here, I must admit that it actually gave me a pretty good feeling. As for replayability I don't really have the urge to play TDD again, but if you're bored with good old BGII I would recommend that you at least try out TDD; it may just be what you're looking for.

    [ December 19, 2005, 16:11: Message edited by: olimikrig ]
     
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    Thanks for your efforts on this review. I like to review mods before I try them, and this was a concise review. I plan on trying a lot of these mods when I get the time.
     

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