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ToB - Ascension/WeiDU Mod Review

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by Mystra's Chosen, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Ascension/WeiDU
    Review by: Mystra’s Chosen
    Version Played: 1.4.17
    Review first posted on: 6 April 2004
    Review Updated:
    Download Location: http://www.weidu.org/asc.html

    David Gaider, a former employee of BioWare who worked on Baldur’s Gate II, has compiled a few add-ons to return ToB to its intended greatness, which were taken out because of various balancing issues. Mr. Gaider thought that fans should be able to see what the original and more challenging Throne of Bhaal looked like, and here it is in all its glory.

    First Things First

    The first thing you’ll notice is actually in Shadows of Amn, where the Slayer form you get in Spellhold begins to upgrade. At 2, 4, and 6 million XP you get an upgrade. Then the final upgrade is the choice to become the Ravager… the very avatar of evil. The drawback to these upgrades is that the Slayer can sometimes go berserk for even several rounds. And the Ravager is the hardest to control of all, but also the most powerful. This is a pretty good idea since having the same Slayer form for 80% of the game can be a little boring, although it’s perhaps a wasted effort since most players rarely if ever use the Slayer form.

    Another thing that will catch your eye is that after each Pocket Plane test, you get another Special Ability. These are called Bhaalpowers and will vary by what path you took. All these powers can be released instantly, and come in real handy sometimes. They can vary from mass healing spells to damage reduction. Even though, like it says in the readme, these can get a little confusing with all the HLA, Pocket Plane and Slayer abilities (you may even have a scroller, depending on your class) they’ll still come in handy sometimes.

    A couple additions that vastly affect the appeal of this mod is the scalable AI. It makes it so the difficulty slider bar increases or decreases the difficulty of the tactics all the monsters use - although Easy still does half damage and Insane still does double. It also makes them have access to more or less of their spell repertoire and the number of enemies you’ll fight will vary accordingly.

    The new, repackaged WeiDU format removes all of the larger bugs present in the non-WeiDU version of Ascension (like the Five not dying in the Final Battle) and most of the smaller bugs (like a bug in the Ravager’s hitpoints). With any unofficial mod, just like with every official product, you are going to encounter some bugs, but this one comes as close to perfect as any. It also comes with the option of installing the Improved Battles mod, which to say the least, is hard. (More on that later.)

    Coalitions

    The mod really comes into full swing in Chapter 9, where you meet Balthazar. Mr. Gaider has added a lot of dialog where you can actually convince the monk to join you on the Throne of Blood (Bhaal’s plane, where the final battle ensues) and battle against Mellisan. But to do this, you’ve got to have very high Wisdom and Charisma and you’ve got to be of Good or Neutral alignment. Even then you have to pick the precise dialog options in order to sway him. There are rumors that you can do it even if you’re evil, but I don’t know. My evil guys don’t usually have high Wisdom or Charisma. If you do end up fighting Balthazar, he’s been beefed up a little bit. He’s a little more powerful and his AI is better.
    But if fighting along side a goody-two-shoes Monk just isn’t your deal, then worry not. You’ll be able to recruit Bodhi on your side for the final battle. All you need is an evil streak and a low reputation and you can level-drain Yaga-Shura with his 99% damage reduction and close to 400 hit points in a few swipes.

    The Final Battle

    Something you will definitely notice is the final battle. It’s been completely revamped. The Elemental Princes are out, as are the generic creatures that are summoned (either by Mellisan or the pools). Who needs Slayer Shadows when you’ve got the Five reincarnated? There’s also a neat little addition that every time you click on a pool (where an Elemental Prince would usually come out) you get completely restored. Healing, spells, everything. Of course, the downside is that a pack of raving demons (the Balor deserves particular mention) pops up every time you use a pool. And guess what? Irenicus and Bodhi make a surprise appearance. Hope you like fighting every boss in the game in the course of about 30 minutes.
    One thing I really noticed was Irenicus’s Improved Invisibility, Spell Immunity: Divination, Spell Immunity: Abjuration Spell Trigger. That is a truly lethal combination because that means he’s immune to any spellcasters, which in turn means that fighters aren’t going to do any damage either because Stoneskin and Mirror Image can’t be dispelled by Breach or True Sight (Invisibility/Divination immunity). I really liked that because it’s never used in the official version of SoA or ToB. It’s such a lethal combination. Why isn’t it used? The only other place I’ve seen it used is on Undead Solaufein in the Solaufein Mod.


    If ‘Insane’ Doesn’t Kill You Quick Enough

    The Improved Battles that come bundled with the WeiDU version are great! I invite anyone to try and beat Illasera with a newly created ToB character. I never thought a fighter/mage could be beaten so quickly. Her arrows dispel any protections you might have, plus leave a Miscast effect.
    The Gromnir battle isn’t very hard, but it’s tons of fun. Four creatures have been added for flavor and the mages are smarter. It’s a little like the Slavers battle in the Guarded Compound of Athkatla.
    The new Yaga-Shura fight is pretty intense. And long. Long and intense. There’s probably over a hundred low-level enemies you’ve got to fight before Yaga-Shura actually shows up, and then you’ve got his Lieutenants to deal with too, not to mention that monsters continue to spawn throughout the whole ordeal. Yaga-Shura also gains a frustrating new ability that works like Dragon’s Breath, called Lava Bomb. He’s also been upgraded with Adamantine Golem-like damage resistance. His one weakness is that he doesn’t have Magic Resistance.
    The original, tougher Demogorgon is hard. It now summons Balors and Glabrezus on top of his Marileths. It’s also got a hefty amount of hitpoints and protections up the ying-yang (by the way, magic is useless on this fiend). This is a battle where strategy is the only way you can beat it. A direct assault frankly will not work here. Every second counts with the Prince of Demons. Even without the Improved Battles installed Demogorgon is still a challenge. Gaider’s scalable AI really comes out in full force here. With the difficulty set on “insane”, Demogorgon is nigh unbeatable. He now has access to attacks that cause Disease, which by the way, can kill your character in about 30 seconds. He also has level-draining capabilities and summons his “infernal host”, who are also buffed up. It’s truly a battle worth the XP.
    The Improved Abazigal battle has become quite (in)famous around the internet. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why a multiple dragon fight gets a reputation (you did know it was a multiple dragon fight, didn’t you?). In short, I found this fight slightly easier than Demogorgon - which means it’s bloody frustrating.
    One thing that puzzled me a little was that there was no Improved Sendai from David Gaider. I guess he thought she was tough enough. At any rate, you could still download a fan-made tougher Sendai in the Oversight mod by the Forgotten Wars crew.
    Balthazar was made slightly tougher, but not much. He was given a new ability called “Chant”, which gives him considerable damage reduction, but it’s really not that big of a deal. I’ll have to admit, he was a little disappointing. I always regretted him not being insanely tough. After all, you do fight him last before going on the Throne of Blood. I would’ve liked to see the battle take place outside with all his mercenaries beating down on you. That’s what he raised the army for, right? Oh well.

    Bugs!? Get the Raid!

    In the entire mod, I only encountered one bug. When I was fighting Demogorgon (and actually winning this time thanks to a well placed Deva which proved the perfect distraction for a few seconds) and I finally got him down “Near Death”, but I just kept hacking away at him for about 10 seconds. This is a relatively common bug for BG2, but nonetheless annoying. I reloaded and read the damn scroll, because I wasn’t about to go through that battle again.

    So, what does this all mean?

    Anyway, that’s the Ascension mod in a nutshell. It’s a winner, that’s for sure. I mean, how often do you get a mod that’s so professionally done? Not often, that’s for sure. Mr. Gaider worked as the senior designer for BioWare on the Baldur’s Gate II project, so he’s able to make it look great, which he does to the letter. It’s also very well balanced. There aren’t +12 weapons lying in crates or anything and there aren’t 200,000 XP monsters that you can kill with a Finger of Death. I would recommend this mod to anyone who wants really tough monsters all over the place. Just put it on Insane and watch your characters die.

    [ April 10, 2004, 14:07: Message edited by: Taluntain ]
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) 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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    [​IMG] Ok folks, this is how it works from this point. This forum is a place where people who've signed up to do mod reviews with me (see sticky in this forum), post them. An example of this can be seen above my post. All of you, however, are warmly invited to comment on these reviews, by replying in the threads here. It's feedback from you that will help when review updates are being considered. If there are any questions, please ask them in the thread about this forum in the SS forum.
     
  3. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    I havent used all of this mod but I have played the improved battles and they are fun! Isnt there an improved Melissan in this mod as well? I think so, when I played all you could do with this ascension mod was to download parts of it so the improved end fight wasnt available then. Any BG gamer who hasnt fought the improved Abizaigal hasnt experienced the full BG saga.
     
  4. david w Gems: 19/31
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    Nice review.

    I agree with the comments about the Slayer change. Lethal as the beastie is, losing 2 from your Reputation each time just doesn't make it worthwhile. And then there's the fact that you can only remain the Slayer for a limited amount of time before dying. *And* the Slayer isn't so much better than a regular Fighter of the same level that it's a must have.
     
  5. casey Gems: 15/31
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    Just got a question about these boards, but first thank you Tal for creating a board for the dozens of mods out there, and thanks to MC for the great review.

    Is this forum strictly for reviews and comments only, or can we ask and give advice on how to complete certain parts of the mods? like the near impossible Ascension fight against Mellisan when on insane, or anything that is not covered by the guides like Tourtured souls or the Imoen romance mod?
     
  6. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Oh geez. I feel dumb. I completely forgot to add the part of my review about the Final Battle. That's the main part of the mod!!! I typed it out and all, I just forgot it in the transfer from Word to the Boards.

    I'm putting it there now.
     
  7. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Well, the PC can't use it because I believe it's an illegal Spell Trigger - of course lots of computer AI characters put together all sorts of illegal triggers, contingencies, etc. that it certainly isn't a reason why THEY couldn't use it.
     
  8. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) 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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    [​IMG] casey, this forum is indeed strictly for reviews and comments on them. If you have specific gameplay questions about a certain mod, you should post them in the appropriate game forum, not here. I'll make this more clear in the forum description.
     
  9. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Really I was stressing the Invisibilty/Spell Immunity: Divination. You can't put that in a trigger though because you need to select which school you want immunity to, but it's still a great combonation if you're getting ready for a hard battle. A fighter/mage with that on is immune to offensive magic (Mirror image keeps area of effect spells away). Personally, I never use the Cloak of Mirroring anymore because it's too cheesy (although I have to admit, I had to whip it out for the more challenging battles against Abazigal and Mellisan), so I use this combo a lot.
     
  10. Rednik Gems: 21/31
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    Just a quick question: How does giving Sarevok a piece of Imoen's soul change the outcome?
     
  11. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    I don't think that has anything to do with Ascension, as it's in the original game. It's considered "evil" to do that though.

    To tell the truth, I have no idea.
     
  12. Rednik Gems: 21/31
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    Oh, I see. I only had Imoen in my party in ToB while I had Ascension installed, so she would start getting the stat upgrades. I didn't know she did that in the normal game as well.

    Spoiler!!!


    I must say though, it's a very interesting option. If it was up to me, I would change it so that Sarevok wouldn't betray you at the end of ToB, after all, Sarevok would have a piece of Imoen's soul: Kind, caring and devoted to good.
     
  13. Advanced Simplicity Gems: 4/31
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    Actually, a contigency will target a imp.invis character, and so you could load up a chain cont. with 3x rube ray of revarsal and it will cancel the spell immunities, true sight him and tear his prot down. It is a bit cheesy though.
     
  14. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    That could possibly work, but it's not guaranteed that it actually targets Irenicus, and not some other enemy.

    The easiest way to rip down someone who's got a Improved Invisibilty/Spell Immunity: Divination defense is with the level 2 spell Glitterdust, then with the level 4 spell Secret Word.

    Now isn't that easier than a Chain Contingency (lvl 9) and 3 Ruby Rays (lvl 7)?
     
  15. virtualsri Gems: 2/31
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    The original demogorgon was scary enough so I didn't use that part and I didn't want another Draconis model battle either, so leaving of those two I installed the rest, and I didn't get any bugs during any of those battle.

    Well I'm really embarrassed I had to cut down the difficulty level to normal to win the final battle.

    I don't know if Balthazaar joining hands with you to fight Melissan is in this mod or in redemption. But that was really cool too


    On the whole I would rate it as an 8.8/10.
     
  16. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor ★ SPS Account Holder Adored 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!)

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    What would have been different to give it a rating of, say, 8.7/10, or alternatively, 8.9/10?
     
  17. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored 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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    A value of .1
     
  18. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor ★ SPS Account Holder Adored 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!)

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    :doh: You'd have thought that, as an accountant, I would've been able to figure that out on my own. :D
     
  19. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    "YOU ARE NOW OUTSOURCED TO INDIA" :p
     
  20. virtualsri Gems: 2/31
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    and... I am from India.
     

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