May 31, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - Part 22: "Enemy At The 'Gate"

Warning: the final part of this post contains a lethal dose of screenshots, proceed at your own risk.

And thus, after a not-quite-final showdown at the Duchal Palace, the remaining Grand Dukes are saved, the party's collective names are cleared (sort of) and Sarevok is ousted and on the run, with us in hot pursuit.
He choose to hide in the basement of the Thieves Guild, of all places, which proved to be a surprisingly convenient locale for that particular activity, with maze-like structure, traps and high-level undead, kicking the party's ass, all over. A dungeon by any other name, quite possibly the final dungeon, but then how would I know?

The undead prove to be the biggest challenge, with their frequent attacks for 9-12 hit points, which is 1/5 of my character's health, and their irritating 90% magic resistance. The fights with them quickly boil down to a test of luck, determining whoever can connect enough strikes and/or magic missiles to bring down the opposition before Jaheira runs out of healing spells. Needless to say, it's usually them.

No kidding, I ended up having to load the game seven times just to kill those two fucks

After the party finally manages to re-deaden the undead, we wander the maze for a while longer, spend ten minutes finding and disarming traps and finally reach the end of the inexplicable dungeon. A body laying beside the door starts up a conversation. It's Sarevok's lackey mage, the one who is responsible for teleporting him away from the doppelganger clusterfuck at the Duchal Palace, as well as providing him with general support throught his campaign. He's basically the Bad Guy version of Elminster, except, y'know, actually helpful.

It seems that Sarevok struck down his ally for rescuing him instead of killing the Dukes like he was instructed, so the mage is out of business (and working limbs), and uses it as an opportunity to blurt out a bunch of exposition I already know, like Sarevok's evil plans for starting a war or the fact that we share the Blood of Bhaal. Baldur's Gate seems surprisingly keen on adding those redundant exposition characters, which makes me wonder whether it's to reinforce their revolutionary non-linear storytelling techniques, allowing people who always pick the "rude" dialogue option and end up killing or alienating all the informants and questgivers to stay in touch with the story, or just for dummies who can't be bothered to read all the story-related documents you come to possess, like Sarevok's Journal outlining pretty much everything the mage says.

One useful bit of info I manage to glance from the conversation is that the Big Bad himself is hiding in the Undercity, which, I can only guess, is located beyond the little doorway conveniently close to the crippled mage.

See if you can notice where the 3d artists forgot to render the cave wall

We enter the Undercity. The place is another Diablo-esque decayed crypt filled with much less objectionable (but only marginally less annoying) "normal" undead - low level skeletons and zombies.

I always wondered where fantasy villains find architects deranged enough to build something like this

Soon, we find some sort of a Doom Fortress of PainDeath which, I assume, is Sarevok's summer cottage, take a nap on the front lawn and storm in.

Tonight, on Grave Designs...

And there it is. The End Boss Battle. The party uneasily approaches Sarevok and his cohorts, as I start mentally counting the number of times I'm going to have to load a savegame.

The fight is as infuriatingly unfair as you might expect in the Final Battle of an infuriatingly unfair game. Sarevok has two cohorts - meathead Tazok and mage Angelo, who seems all too keen to rain magic spells upon the party THROUGH HIS PERSONAL ANTI-MAGIC FIELD and teleport away giggling. Sarevok himself is a surprisingly straightforward enemy, a lumbering pile of Sauron armor that's neither immune nor particularly vulnerable to any form of damage, weilding a huge two-hander, which is thankfully his only form of attack. The arena itself is full of traps and has high-level, melee, Plate-clad skeletons - Battlehorrors, - spawn on it's edges at regular intervals.

After the first few attempts at taking the End Boss Posse on end sooner than I can identify all the enemies on the screen, I come up with a new tactic. In preparation for the last part of the game, among other things, I have purchased a wand of monster summoning, which almost instantaneously summoned a crowd of five creatures from the early game - ogres, hobgoblin archers, gnolls and hellish dogs of some kind, - at a small distance, and had whopping 20 charges in it. A new plan was born.

Since Sarevok is a melee fighter, I should be able to spam an impenetrable wall of creatures in front of him, which he would be compelled to attack by his thick AI skull, while my entire party stands 3 meters away and spams him with ranged attacks, slowly chipping away at his health and methodically replacing the fallen creatures with freshly-summoned ones (You can't have more than five creatures at the same time, but if one of the original five gets killed, casting the summoning spell will get you one additional monster as a replacement). Essentially, I aimed to beat the AI at it's own game. Also, this strategy required the mage to get distracted by shiny objects, and not notice the party, thereby avoiding being "pulled" by the initial attack (as enemies in BG don't rally eachother when they spot a threat). Oh, and I also had to lower the difficulty, because fuck this.

The fight went something like that (Sarevok is the guy in the black armor):

The party almost runs out of projectile attacks to throw at him, there are only 2 charges left in the monster wand, but the leviathan finally bites the dust. Cue the pre-rendered cinematic:

Dibs on the armor!

The final cinematic is pretty hard to show in still pictures. Basically, Sarevok falls and his body sort of... like, turns into red dust, which flows through a crack in the floor into some sort of an underground storage with statues, and it destroys the statue of Sarevok... look, it's a sequel hook, alright?

And thus. the almost-but-not-quite avatar of the God of Murder is defeated by me lowering the difficulty like a little bitch Gnolls and Hobgoblins. Yeaaaaaah...

And that's Baldur's Gate Original Flavor for you. Mind, the game doesn't end right there, I get to loot Sarevok's twohander and then walk all the way back to the city and the Duchal Palace (because it's 1587 and the convenient shortcuts from the final boss to the main quest givers had not been invented yet). Still, Final Boss is dead! Yay! As for the happy ending:

No time to rest on the laurels though. Amn is still amassing troops for a war, and it might take more than a messenger to straighten things out with them. In fact, it would take a real hero just to explain what exactly transpired this side of the border. Perhaps even several heroes. A party, so to speak. Perhaps...



Supah_Ewok said...

Now that you're done, you need to go on over and "encourage" bucaneer to finish his own Let's Play. As I seem to recall, he left us at a bit of a cliff hanger, and I'm sure we all want to hear in detail the story of his country's complete ruin.

So whatcha doing next?

Sekundaari said...

You wouldn't believe the amount of behind-the-scenes snide remarks made to bucaneer on this state of affairs... not too many, that is. I'll step up my game, though I'm unsure if the quips actually have enough oomph to them.

Although, how should I put this... Someone may have sort of introduced him to Europa Universalis 3 and inspired him to plan sneakily switching to that game mid-LP, which... might take a while.

Someone said...

bucaneer takes no orders, I'm afraid. As for what I should tackle next, well... I have a few games in mind and once I'd settled on the list I'll be posting a poll, if only to get zero votes and loose what little faith I had remaining for that whole "audience participation" idea.

Yeah, yeah, sure, blame Someone. It wasn't YOU who repeatedly blabbered on about your quest to become the Holy Roman Emperor Of The Universe, OH NO, it was Someone who never even played the bloody game!

Anonymous said...

Yeah the World is finally save... Only until Next time though...
Anyways thanks a lot for the entertaining BG 1 AAR.

Keep up the good work!!

Someone said...

The world is never safe. Not in D&D anyway. There is always another wannabe Lord of Murder, or King of Shadows, or some other Dark Overlord, hiding just 'round the metaphorical corner, planning to usurp power and fuck up the good thing everyone has going.

Still, thanks for the kind words. I don't know what you people find in this stuff, in my opinion it's quite mediocre at best, but as long as you're entertained I'm happy to provide more.

Supahewok said...

EU3? Who wants to be Holy Roman Emperor? I usually destroy the Empire. It's hardly my fault that it's made up of weak, delectable, tiny countries that fall to my war machine nigh instantly!

'Cept for Austria. God, I hate Austria.

Sekundaari said...

Well, it is actually still my first game I've been playing on and off for months. From 1399, now in the 1720-1730 region. And as I discovered, France, easy difficulty and no latest patches lowering magistrate amount make the game... somewhat easy.

So I thought, what the hell, and got myself elected Emperor. At first, this was purely because of Gemeiner Pfennig that gave me a 50% tax bonus. But after probably a century of enjoying that little thing, I thought claiming the still substantial HRE lands as mine would be neat. I had been carefully avoiding crossing the infamy limit and trying to retain my good position in the Catholic church, but still had a large enough France.

Well the resulting wars with pitiful generals, disgusting scum infamy and rebellion aided by an unrelated legitimacy dive and war exhaustion were the hardest thing in the game since... maybe some of the struggles against England in the very beginning. But I did get a great majority of the HRE lands for myself and most of the little states who defied me as vassals, which was cool. And some neat bonuses from actually being the HRE.

I'll probably try a game where I don't care about infamy at some point, so I can just annex as much as I like. But otherwise the tiny HRE countries are a pain to claim.

Anonymous said...

Dude... I mean dude! I enjoy reading what you write down not because ITS UBERawwesome but because you made a choice to sacrifice of your free time to bring entertainment to other people... Even though it mighty be only a hand full And that makes it worth reading!

So thanks