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Reviews of BTL - SoA


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#1 Zyraen

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 10:43 AM

Just what the topic says :)

Post your Reviews here. For spoilers, just give sufficient Spoiler warning. Do comment on aspects like Quest, Personalities, non-joinable NPCs, etc :)

Look forward to hearing your feedback!

kiyos.jpg____btlbn2.gif____kovaS.jpg
Love between a Law Enforcer and a Fugitive - can such a thing even happen?
SoA Release - Overview / Download Links

Zyraen's Miscellaneous Mods - Ust Natha Accelerator, item tweaks, XP caps, The Ub3r Reaver Kit, and much more...
Spellhold Gauntlet - more than just a Spellhold-Be-Gone
Hidden Kits - hidden dual-classed kits with a twist for progression


#2 Zyraen

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 10:44 AM

Review by Vera_kdt - note SPOILING

This is my first attempt at ever writing a review of a BG2 mod.
I have played BTL over the course of about 3 weeks and finished on Friday 19th of May with the SOA portion, which concludes the content of the mod (The characters will continue with you to TOB, but will not have any further banters or quests) at this time.

In the course of this review, I'll offer some SPOILERS, please do not continue to read this review if you don't wish to read about some of the content.

I?m not a native English speaker, but I?m hereby trying my best to give you a comprehensive and understandable review.

Review

A) Personalities
1) Perception of Kova's personality
2) Perception of Kiyone's personality
3) Perception of other NPC?s (primarily Kharen's and Seida's) personalities

B) The 7-part quest
1) Difficulty
2) Tactical Challenges
3) Originality

C) The Romance Portion
1) Comparison with other Mod's I've played
2) Technical Implementation

D) Overall experience
1) Originality
2) Conclusion

A) Personalities

1) Perception of Kova's personality

Kova is intended to be a Chaotic Good character, I had the feeling he was more Neutral Good. In fact, he seemed to switch from Chaotic to Lawful several times during the course of the game and some of his comments even suggested that he is a tiny bit selfish.
At first, I was fairly indifferent about him but my opinion of him changed drastically after a while and getting to ?know? him a bit better. Suddenly, a lot of things that have been said and a lot of comments he let off made sense and I was able to sympathize with him a lot more. He also has a hidden strength which, unfortunately, doesn?t come out very often. He?d rather make ironic and sometimes bleak comments instead to hide his true self from the party. He is often found challenging Kiyone in particular with words (on one occasion almost brutally) and <CHARNAME> is left to guess why (you will find out later).

Kova has an original sound-set and the quality is certainly above average. He seems to be suffering from a small cold but honestly, after listening to him for a few weeks, I couldn?t imagine any other voice, it really does fit him very well. It would be nice if the sound-set could be extended to include a few lines from the banters and LoveTalks in a future release.

2) Perception of Kiyone's personality

This is probably the toughest part of the review for me because it took me a dictionary and a long chat with Zyraen to understand her a bit better. She is/was designed to be lawful good but I can?t help seeing her as lawful neutral instead. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Jaheira, as she also tortures herself and those around her ? because of doubt.
If you?re reading this, you may have played the Jaheira romance at some point. It was long, J. initially acts as she is told by the Harpers, then doubts her harper friends, doubts her feelings, doubts <CHARNAME> and slowly learns to trust and to accept her feelings.
Kiyone shows similar traits but there are a few fundamental differences there:
- She doubts not only her profession as a law enforcer but also her feelings and her picture of the world
- She clearly doesn?t have a deity to rely on or to receive support from (such as Silvanus for Jaheira) and hence focuses only on a law which she has doubts about
- She has a much finer intelligence and wisdom and makes a lot of astute and appropriate comments
Kiyone is a lot more open and honest with her answers to questions than Kova is, and this makes her at least initially easier to understand and to like.

3) Perception of other NPC?s (primarily Kharen's and Seida's) personalities

This mod contains references about a lot of well known NPC?s from Baldur?s Gate 2. I?m going to play though this game again soon ? this time with an evil party ? mainly to take revenge on the likes of Aran and consorts.
The personalities of the Bioware? NPC?s have remained ?in character? and I?m not going to write about them. In this review, I would mainly talk about the party?s main adversaries.

You will meet Kharen when you leave Spellhold and return to Brynnlaw. If you choose to take the Underdark passage directly, you will not encounter her, and you would also miss out on all the items you can gather in the Shark City, such as the Cloak of Mirroring and that would really be a pity.
I was happy to get out of the lengthy Spellhold Dungeon and in my hurry to sell my goodies in Brynnlaw, I ran into Kharen, a cowled wizard with a history.
Kharen is letting on that she has lost someone dear to her and would like to take Kova away with her. I would definitely recommend that you see her and experience the chat. She is by no means your average villain and in fact, after listening to her, you may be tempted to relinquish Kova.

When you finally meet Seida, you are probably close to solve the BTL quest. The chat with him is a real eye opener and while there is a response option to just fight instead of listen, you should read through the story at least once.
The meeting is a true philosophical masterpiece, it offers 2 viewpoints of a fundamental ethical question and left me thinking for quite a while. Seida again, is by no means an evil man. He also displays a perfectly understandable viewpoint but this time you are forced to defend yourself.


B) The 7-part quest

1) Difficulty

At the beginning of the review, I?ve already mentioned that I?m not a native English speaker. Also I have had a few problems getting some information because of the way I play Baldur?s Gate 2 normally.
Mae?Var?s Quest is a fundamental part of this MOD because of Rayic Gethras. This is the Cowled Wizard you normally have to kill to progress with the quest. I usually play Neutral-Good <CHARNAME>?s and hence I found myself a little workaround of finishing the quest without having to kill Rayic:
- Complete the first part of stealing the necklace from the Talos Priestess and return to Mae?Var
- Mae?Var sends you to Edwin
- Group attacks Edwin on sight
- Group loots Key to Mae?Var?s safe
- Group gets proof from Mae?Var without the Thieves going hostile
- Group brings proof to Reynal Bloodscalp
- Renal sends you to kill Mae?Var, Quest finished

Because of this, I wandered about aimlessly, until 3 days later, I thought about speaking to Renal again who then proceeded to help me out with the last bit of detail

A similar incident occurred after my return from the Underdark in Chapter 6. Again, I couldn?t find the last piece of evidence. I then found out that there is a bug that can occur after your meeting with Seida and I had to reload a few times before being able to complete the quest.

Because of all this, and also because I?m normally relying on the journal, I found the quest very difficult (which is a good thing! Yay, finally a challenge) and the first bit ? because of my way of playing the Mae?Var quest ? almost frustrating.


2) Tactical Challenges

a) Fighting Kharen
Kharen has her own script (she is a Mage/Thief) and is indeed very challenging. Mind you, I just stumpled out of Spellhold, quite battle wary, overloaded with treasure and only selling stuff in mind when I encountered her. She and her friends proceeded immediately to cast spells on me which they probably learnt from Kangaxx. Triple-R (Reload, Rest and Re-try) was my best friend for a good while and I enjoyed it very much. It reminded me of the days of the original Baldur?s Gate when I didn?t know about debug mode=1
I think it was meant to be just slightly easier than Kangaxx himself, because you didn?t need +4 or better weapons to hit Kharen. I hope you will enjoy this fight as much as I did.

B) The tactical Shadow Thief Challenge?

?which wasn?t really a challenge.
Right after the fight with Kharen you may run into some Shadow Thieves who also would like to get Kova back. So they attacked me, I made a Triple-R again, buffed up like made, proceeded to pull them into a trap and? because I left Kova behind, they didn?t see him and walked off without a fight. Great. (Mental note: If it smells like a duck and quacks like one?)

3) Originality

All fights, even those I?m not commenting about, are refreshingly original, even though I have to admit that being constantly in the line of fire by Cowled Wizards (in my game, I couldn?t bribe them) and Shadow Thieves became fairly annoying towards the end. It?s always nice if you are just battling the Shark Men in Waukeen?s Promenade to retrieve the silver sword hilt and then get jumped by a few Cowled Wizards and 4 Assassins. I had a similar thing happen to me after finding the eye witness. Lot?s of Triple-R?.
The most amazing thing is that you can change the course of the quest slightly by behaving differently. Do you kill someone because of revenge? That?s going to make the final fight a bit harder.
There were also 2 fights (maybe more) in BTL where you have to protect someone. You need to kill your enemies before they kill your protégé. I find this additional challenge most refreshing and entertaining even thought that means you probably have to reload often.

C) The Romance Portion

1) Comparison with other Romance Mod's I've played

This Mod is a real winner. It is highly original, it offers a long quest, it offers challenging fights, original ideas and a romance with a surprise ending.
Have you ever been asked how your party should behave if <CHARNAME> turns into a slayer?
Did you always wonder what effects being a drow has on <CHARNAME>?s psyche without being able to talk to anyone in his/her group about it?
No? Go and download the mod immediately!!
I?ve downloaded and played most of the COM MODs and some others (such as Kelsey, Solaufein and Chloe) and each one is unique as such, but the path they are taking is in all cases similar. There are some friendly chats, then usually a problem <CHARNAME> needs to help with (overcoming an issue, complete a side quest, etc) followed by an apology and some more nice chats, and then love.
With Kova and Kiyone, things are a bit different. In the beginning I thought they like each other, then I proceeded to feel that they were exceptionally ironic and almost rude with each other. They at some point reluctantly agree to be something like friends. I understand that depending on how you finish their quest, they can become more than friends. I personally prefer the friendship path because I cannot realistically see how they could fall in love after all that arguing.


2) Technical Implementation

Again, Zyraen managed to create something outstanding here. If you do follow the romance path rather than the friendship path, you will be pleasantly surprised by the final SOA cut scenes. You will be presented with several short scenes from the revival to a meeting, to the wedding ceremony and more, if you think that you need to satisfy your curiosity.
Also, I liked the the various music clips that were chosen for the LoveTalks and cut scenses throughout the game.


D) Overall experience

1) Originality

This MOD is in many ways brilliant. It includes so many little banters and interjections about subjects nobody else has yet shown. Kova and Kiyone are almost like real people by showing fear, selfishness and still the desire to the right or good thing. The chats are much longer than the ones you may be used to. They actually reason with you and try to understand what they are getting into.
Another thing noteworthy is the fact that you can alter the tactical fights depending on how you behave towards people you met on a different day at a different place. Try to act as much in character as possible for the most rewarding experience.
Last but not least, the philosophical aspect of the MOD makes it a serious experience.


2) Conclusion

After completing the game, I read the read-me (yes I know, I should?ve read it before hand) and what it says in there is definitely true:

You probably NEED to be this kind of person to ENJOY playing the Mod to any extent, namely someone who
- likes a Serious Mod and not a joke Mod
- likes reading quite a bit to enjoy in-depth banters
- enjoys observing character development in other characters, especially Bioware ones
- enjoys some degree of combat OR doesn't rest much in the game
- willing to make do with bugs showing up, especially when the Mod was done and tested on a heavily modded version of ToB


Download it, play it, enjoy it. The only problem is that it is over and I don?t know how long I must wait for the ToB version (if there is any). No, I?m serious, it?s brilliant. It?s so well worth it!

Please note: I have not yet read the Epilogues and it probably will be some time before I get to read them as I have a bird to plug with my friend Aral first

Vera

Edited by Zyraen, 21 January 2007 - 10:47 AM.

kiyos.jpg____btlbn2.gif____kovaS.jpg
Love between a Law Enforcer and a Fugitive - can such a thing even happen?
SoA Release - Overview / Download Links

Zyraen's Miscellaneous Mods - Ust Natha Accelerator, item tweaks, XP caps, The Ub3r Reaver Kit, and much more...
Spellhold Gauntlet - more than just a Spellhold-Be-Gone
Hidden Kits - hidden dual-classed kits with a twist for progression


#3 iscariot

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:44 AM

BLW Review (caution contains spoilers)

I have just finished Mod BLW for the first time and
I've got to say I am thrilled. I'll definitely include
it during my next couple of runs of Baldur's Gate.

Characters: Kova and Kiyone are very interesting
characters. They are very different from each other
and that's precisely what's so exciting about them. I
also likes the fact that they stay in character
throughout the course of the game and don't change or
lose coherence. That is usually one of the challenges
with mods, but it has worked out perfectly here.

Quest: The quest is extensive and last throughout the
whole game. It's fascinating to complete the puzzle
piece by piece, to find out what exactly happened and
why. The quest also includes some challenging fights
in which you absolutely have to make the right
decisions or face serious consequences (e.g. when you
accompany the eye witness).

Romance: The romance is slowly building up pace
throughout the game. It's very enjoyable to see them
fighting like cats and dogs before they finally grow
close. I especially liked the wedding part, which even
made my eyes mist over a little. Their conversation in
front of the temple was my absolute favorite. However,
I didn't listen in on their wedding night.

Now I've included them in TOB and was very happy to
find that they still had something to say in Watcher's
Keep.

I think this is a particularly successful mod.
Everyone should give it a try at least once.

#4 cbockhop

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 05:01 AM

Great mod, one of the tightest integrated mods to the BG2 environment I have ever played. I enjoy the CtB/SoS mod style as well mind you (adding new content into new areas so as not to disturb the flow in the original design), but you have created a storyline that (mostly) remains independant from the PCs, but progresses linear to it.

Kodu's as well regarding character development, plot flow, etc.

The only constructive criticism I might make is regarding the 'attacks'. In my first playthrough of this mod, I fought the cowled crew once, the paladins once, and the thieves about 100 times! They must have shown up every 24 hours, and didn't slow down even after moving into chapter 3. Now, I won't complain, (I always take the extra EXP!) but from a gameflow perspective, after my PC and his party have mopped up about 500 foolish thugs looking to scalp Kova, you'd think they'd get the message that he's not going to come easily; maybe you could consider on a future version to script in a 'run away' tactic for them; if the party levels are over a certain point, they get the message that it ain't worth their hide. (I think there is somehting like this in SCSII for the random bandit encounters; after a certain point they start saying "Oh no, it's CHARNAME!" and run away.

Once again, thank you for your hard work!

GO COMMUNITY MODDING!

#5 Zyraen

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:26 AM

Sorry I missed this feedback :) Thanks a lot.

The Paladins / Guards will only show up if you fail to submit evidence on time, and the Cowlies only under certain limited conditions. But the thieves... they spawn.. just about anywhere.

Just so you know, the Thief attacks actually get stronger the higher level you go. Their frequency might be due to the fact that (if I remember correctly) they are not set to game time, but rather to Real Time. ie the time you pause the game and are thinking, the timer for their next attack is still running. So that might explain the frequency.

On the bright side though, their frequency is reduced over time as events develop - as Renal calls off people for helping him with Maevar, as you join the Thieves, etc.

kiyos.jpg____btlbn2.gif____kovaS.jpg
Love between a Law Enforcer and a Fugitive - can such a thing even happen?
SoA Release - Overview / Download Links

Zyraen's Miscellaneous Mods - Ust Natha Accelerator, item tweaks, XP caps, The Ub3r Reaver Kit, and much more...
Spellhold Gauntlet - more than just a Spellhold-Be-Gone
Hidden Kits - hidden dual-classed kits with a twist for progression


#6 Lupatria

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:31 PM

Just wanted to thank you for this great mod. It integrated wonderfully with my game, and their original items were a great touch. I'm particularly fond of Kova's armor, Great job! Kova and Kiyone's personalities are really well fleshed out, which is nice to see in NPC's that are non-romancable by the PC. SPOILER




The romance talk with the proposal is just great. They stay true to their personalities even in hell with the PC.




END SPOILER
I also commend you on their portraits, they look great, I'm a sucker for a really nice portrait.

I only have a few things to say on the negative side. One, you are already aware of, and that is the crash when entering the new area. But I got around that easily enough. Very minor nitpick is that I would like to see Kova and Kiyone interact a bit more with the PC. I know not all people like really dialog heavy characters, but I'm not one of those people. It's nothing against the mod though! I understand that writing and coding lots of dialog is tough, and time consuming. Overall, I love the content, and characters that this Mod adds, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of a different playthrough.

#7 rbx4

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:30 AM

*Spoilers below*














Quest--This was the best part. The quest and storyline are both engrossing and kept my interest.

Personalities--I said much about Kiyo in the other thread. On Kova, He has an unusual personality. This is to be expected from people with a high intelligence. There's nothing wrong with him, as far as I can say. Other than that, there isn't much to say.

non-joinable NPCs--They all seem fine and in-character.

I'll add some categories:
Interactions--these are the best, especially with Minsc.

Interjections--these need to be reduced down to a minimal number. Basically, if an NPC isn't saying something truly distinctive, than that NPC should not be talking.

#8 Tatyan

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 05:54 AM

Review

A) Personalities
1) Perception of Kova's personality
I must say that he is my favourite :D The good thief who really wants to be something different, and strive to do what is right is interesting. Also, his darker part, his pragmaticism, and his intelligence really shine through. The last is peraphs what I liked more: Kova has 17 in intelligence and it *shows*. It doesn't happen often. There are a couple of time when I had the impression he was fooling us :P
In short, he is well and truly good, and, ta dan, sometime bitter about it. Which is a thing I love: evil embitters, but sometimes good embitters as well.
I loved him, truly

2) Perception of Kiyone's personality
I liked her, though a bit less than I liked Kova. She is straightforward, lawfull, but fair. Sometimes she does seem almost LN, but I think it is understandable.
I liked her self doubt, and smiled a little when she bordered on being cynic. I hoped Kova'll cure her of that, cynism is always bad for people! :D
She is also a teeny litle bit arrogant, and sometimes she did went across as overbearing, but I did perceive a certain insicurity in the end. She is willing to take change, like with Kova. Yes, I did like her :)

3) Perception of other NPC?s (primarily Kharen's and Seida's) personalities
I can't speak for Kharen, because I couldn't do the seventh part :(
Seida's... I understood him in a certain way. It was his son. Ok, he was a bastard, but better people than him had been blinded by love for their offspring. And he did not lost a son, but two... He also lost Kova, in a way. In the end, even if he was one of the "villain", I pitied him

B) The 7-part quest
1) Difficulty
Difficult it was ò.ò This much is certain. There was part in which I gnawed at my knukles for the next clue! :D
Still, it wasn't impossible and, with my training in reading thriller (mostly classic thriler) I managed! *_*
I haven't been able to complete the seventh part of the quest ç.ç sigh. Next time.

2) Tactical Challenges
Ehhhh... I cheated a couple of times <.<'''' I am not much for fighting, I don't love it so much. But I enjoyed the fights here and they made sense ò.ò

3) Originality
Very, very, very original! Never I have seen a mod with like this one :D With a profound backstory and interesting pngs. Also, the story was peculiar, it streamed flawelessy with BG2's one and it was well-written. Congratulation.

C) The Romance Portion
1) Comparison with other Mod's I've played
I have never played NPC-NPC romance, and I am afraid I can't comment much because, as I'll say later, my romance was bugged ç_ç it kept replying again and again the talk about being friends at a certain point -even if the variable in the end was set on 2.-
Still, I enjoyed how they got close with time, and distrust in the beginning, and then they learnt to know each other :) I loved the part about fishing xD and about Kiyone mistery-writing! LoL!
Also, it is very sweet how Kova ask her to marry him. I wasn't able to see the wedding still due to a bug :( but the asking was priceless xD
"Since we are already dead..." XD

D) Overall experience
1) Originality
As I said, a very original saga ^___^ Very true and possible, and I did liked it! I'll tell more in the nex part, which is...

2) Conclusion

I LOVED:

Kova.
As I said, he is my favourite :) Reasons already listed but my, how he rings true!

The plot.
Precise, integrated with BG2 and coerent. Difficult but not impossible, challanging I would say.

Kova as the "needed to be saved".
The fact that Kova, the male, was the one in need of saving pleased me IMMENSLY. Usually it is the pretty maid who is being unjustly accused and the knigth in shining armour who save her. Here, it is not so. Kova is definitively not maid and, if he is innocent here, he is not "Innocent" (as he admits freely).
Also, Kiyone is NOT a knight in shining armour but a very true and very flawed woman.
Pure perfection u.ù

Rillifane.
Alright. Need to explain this one: I am a great fan of FR, and I love it dearly. As such, to see two characters so indifferent towards the Gods troubled me a little, since FR is a gods-heavy fantasy, just as it is magic-heavy.
When in the end it was discovered that Rillifane had helped Kova around (I bet with a little help from Erevan :D elven god of thieves and fun :P) and had also helped Kiyone made me jump up and down with glee. Yes! That's right! *_*

I LOVED, BUT IT PERPLEXED ME A LITTLE:

Lack of relationship between K&K and <charname>
I understand that K&K are pragmatic at heart, still, they are traveling with a bhaalspawn -and it became pretty evident that charname is one at a point...-. I expect the NPC to have a wiev of it, and to comment on it. I also understood that they don't want to pry, but in this way they seemed a little... disjoined, not by the story of BG2, where they flawelessy mingle, but from *Charname*'s story.
It is a lot like they don't care much about it, and, since BG2 is Charname's story, this had indeed perplexed me. I had renounced another mod (the Longer Road) because the NPC in it (Irenicus) really took away the spotlight from Charname, which is fine if the game is about said NPC, but not fine, at least for me, in BG2.
K&K do not come to those height, but sometimes they also perplexed me^^
This is really the only topic, anyway :)

Conclusion of Conclusion:
BTL is a good reason to replay BG2, alone, beause it really enhances the game experience, and I'll certain replay them soon, and see if I can come to the 7° part! :D
Also, I want that weding -.- I WANT it -.-

Thank you for this mod. I enjoyed it immensely.
I wish you, as we say in Italy: good healt, long life and joy of heart

Tiziana.