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Offline Solaufein

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The Darkest Day Reviews
« on: January 05, 2006, 10:48:14 AM »
Reviews for The Darkest Day, old and new. Feel free to post reviews of this mod here.


Written by: Deano

"What the hell is the Darkest Day?" I hear you all cry. Well have you been sleeping in a well for the past few months or something? This is the premiere MOD that everyone had been waiting. For months on end everyone waited, and then it finally came, like a rocket from the clouds. Well why the hell has it taken me so long to review it then? Well I have been waiting patiently in the wings, and now was the time I thought appropriate.

Well before I start, I am going to make this clear, that I am going to try my best to avoid moaning about bugs. Bugs hit even the most biggest of gaming companies, but I thought I would be a little passive towards the bugs in TDD. Well, just to defend myself from seeming incredibly biased, I know TDD has had a lot of hard work put in, and I am going to look at the game, rather than play "find the bug".

So what does TDD add for the user downloading it? Well lets see, new side quests, new NPCs, 75 new kits, over 100 new spells and items and of course a major new storyline after the killing of Irenicus (and probably a lot of other stuff I haven't mentioned). Does that not already whet you appetite? For a free add-on I was most impressed.

Well where to start? Well I decided to have a more in-depth look at the kits. Yes, all 75 of the things. Booting up Bg2, I was pleasantly greeted with a new logo and starting a new game I was overwhelmed by the huge abundance of kits. There were at least 5 new kits for each class, many classes had a lot lot more than that. I had to spend 30 minutes just looking through all the descriptions. I managed somehow to settle with a Frost Dweller (yeah I like to kick stuff in the ass with large weapons and a lot of hit points). So what did I make of all the kits? Well some were downright powerful, while others were more subtle. Some of the more powerful that come to mind are the Bladesinger and the Rhythm Warrior. Rhythm Warriors getting bonus attacks and Armour Class as they go up levels while the Bladesingers get exceptional skills such as Disarm (though I was puzzled at the way a lot of kits as to why they got a "Summon Shadows ability", but nevermind).

Most of the kits are well programmed, and made (though i'll let the guys off for some of the ocassional spelling errors). And although most of the kits were good in their own way, there is something inside of me that cries "too many kits". I must admit that I am not the greatest fans of kits, and I know a fair few people who feel the same as I do. Maybe a few less kits that were more specialised and balanced may have helped to an extent, though I am sure many many people will be pleased with the amount of choice and depth this brings to them. Think how many replays it will take now, even using a Multiplayer game to use 6 of the new kits each time? Now that's what I call giving a game a new lease of life.

As if the kits were not enough on their own as a MOD, the guys had to add new spells to our spellbooks. New spells for both priests and mages are added including some powerful, and some more not so powerful spells. A lot of the new spells are taken from the DnD rules, although a lot of them are entirely newly made. The best thing about these new spells, is of course the animations. Personally I think it was a great idea to take some of the animations from both Icewind Dale and Planescape:Torment, they look great and make the game play much better. Are the spells balanced? Well, the ones I have tried were very good (trying not to give away any spoilers here) and i was pleasantly surprised by the different array of spells that were actually on offer.

So what was next on my agenda? Well the NPCs of course. Well what did I find, not only old aquaintances but also some brand new people. From the people I tested, namely Avaunis and Yeslick, I had a great time. Well these new NPCs breath new life into the game and allow for a greater variation, although some were not quite as polished as I was beginning to expect. Well unfortunately a lot used NPC Sounds that were already in the game (namely to cut down the filesize I suspect), also some sounds were missing and just appeared in the bottom bar, and unfortunately there was not much interaction between NPCs, save in their quests. But the NPCs did redeem themselves as most of them had a quest to speak of somewhere. Avaunis was a good example, having a whole quest to the "Halls of Knowledge". I can't go much further otherwise it would spoil the experience, suffice to say that this is a full new quest with some new areas awaiting you. I think these new NPCs, though maybe not as well fleshed out as a Bioware NPC, add a lot of diversity to the game of bg2. If you have played through bg2 as many times as I have, you will appreciate some of these new NPCs to play with.

So what else was added? Well new quests of course and more. Well for starters, more Monsters were added to the starting dungeon alone. Bugbears or Ettins anyone? These came as a little surprise package, although the Bugbears certainly gave me a run for their money i can tell you. I think even that made it more interesting, although I knew that wasn't quite the epitome of what the guys did actually add.

Wandering around Athkatla after playing the game through about 4-5 times, isn't always the most fun thing to do, but when you come across new quests and things, it can be an entirely different story altogether. I found all of the quests to be well thought out and interesting. Although they recycled some of the areas from the other Infinity Engine Games, I don't think it removed any of the play value from it in any way whatsoever. I found the quests to be fairly well thought out, although some of the quests were a tad annoying when instead of using a normal dialog that I am used to, they used "Floating Dialog". Which was a little annoying, and very difficult to read at the best of times. I think maybe a little more thought could have been used in this, as it made the whole quest seem a little linear in places. Although maybe it is me being a little picky about the subject, I don't know entirely.

Though, these small little side quests made the whole game seem like something new and different again. Well, I gained a whole lot of new experience, and I actually enjoyed most of the quests immensely. So what about the big major quest at the end? Well, this is the big daddy, but I really don't want to say too much without spoiling the whole experience for you, but namely that it is well thought out, and involves some of the characters from the Forgotten Realms that you all know and love from the books of R.A Salvetore, but i'll leave you to guess which ones they are.

All in all, is TDD worth downloading? If you want something new, then certainly by all means download it. It's not perfect, but the main thing is that it's FREE. Maybe not to everyone's liking due to bugs, but they are being squashed daily. And then finally, I think about a ToB compatible version. When that is eventually released, I think there will be an increase in happy customers. Visit the TDD Website for more information.

89 %
A great add-on with only a few flaws, that are being fixed everyday. Go download this pivotal add-on. NOW!
My mods:
Dark Horizons
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IWD2 store

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Dark Side of the Sword Coast BG1 Weidu
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Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition beta tester
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Offline Solaufein

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TDD Reviews
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2006, 10:49:53 AM »
Taken from Sorcerers Place

The Darkest Day

Review first posted: 17/12-05



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.
My mods:
Dark Horizons
The Undying
Nikita
IWD2 store

Co-contributor:
Dark Side of the Sword Coast BG1 Weidu
Aurils Bane
Encounters
Saerileth
Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition beta tester
Baldur's Gate 2 - Enhanced Edition beta tester
Icewind Dale - Enhanced Edition beta tester