Author Topic: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews  (Read 76891 times)

Offline Rodman49

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BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« on: February 03, 2006, 02:45:01 AM »
There are a good bit of NPC reviews out there, and while pretty helpful I thought I should write a few because my perspective is so different the reviewer's of those available.  Unlike most reviewers I haven't been around that long and I haven't played a lot of Baldur's Gate.  Heck, I haven't played any of the Icewind Dale games or Planescape: Torment either.  Anyway, these reviews are a little more in-depth than Imrahil's, but don't contain as many spoilers as some of the other reviews available (I want to read a review, but have at least a few surprises when I play the mod).

Additionally I didn't go through a painstaking process of trying to experience every possible dialogue tree and quest for an NPC, I played through the game once and that was it - first impressions are what counts when it comes to modding, and a well-developed NPC should add something to just about every type of party (within reason).  The next three posts define the three tiers which I will place NPC mods in: Editor's Choice (excellent download for any BG player), Reviewed NPCs (decent download, not recommended for everyone), Chopping Block (not recommended unless you must have something particular).

Editor's Choice:
de'Arnise Romance (92%)
Kelsey (88%)
Saerileth (85%)
Valen (82%)

Reviewed:
Keto (88%)
Kivan and Deheriana (80%)
Solaufein (70%)
Yasraena (68%)

Chopping Block:
Fade (65%)

Under Review:
None ATM

Mod Scoring:
For NPCs I've have a few categories with their weight in parenthesis. The questions are guide questions I used when assigning scores.
Balance (x1) - Is this character balanced? Are they a valuable addition to the party? Does the character provide usefulness in their own quests? Does the NPC have overpowered items or innate abilities?
Creativity (x2) - Does the mod add new and original content to the game? Is the NPC simply a clone of a Bioware NPC? Does the character have an intriguing and different background? Sheer fun factor and new graphics garner points in this category also.
Dialogue/Quests (x2) - Does the NPC have generally high quality dialogue? Is the dialogue intriguing and not redundant? Do the quests advance the NPC's character or relationship to the PC?
Integration (x5) - Is the mod generally bug-free? Does the NPC fit in well to the Bhaalspawn saga? Is there too much or too little dialogue? Do quests stick out from the main flow of the game? Does the mod avoid parentheticals? This category is graded especially hard, almost any slip up here can kill the atmosphere of the game.
Portrait (x1) - Is the portrait Baldurized? Does the portrait have correct face/body proportions? Does the portrait grab your attention?
Voicing (x2) - Does the voicing have consistent volume and quality? Does the voicing add personality to the character? A base grade of 50% is given for no voicing, bad or good voicing (from a technical standpoint) can decrease or increase scores by 25%, the remaining 25% is evaluated based how much it adds to the character.

Best Overall: de'Arnise Romance
Most Balanced: Kivan and Deheriana
Most Creative: Valen
Best Dialogue/Quests: de'Arnise Romance
Best Integration: Keto
Best Portrait: Yasraena
Best Voicing: Kelsey
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 02:50:34 AM by Rodman49 »

Offline Rodman49

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Editor's Choice NPCs
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2006, 02:49:39 AM »
Name: de’Arnise Romance (SoA)
Version: 2
Website: http://www.pocketplane.net/nalia
Type: NPC Expansion
Score: 92 %
Overview:
The de’Arnise Romance mod gives the Bioware NPC Nalia a romance dialogue tree along with new quests and a flirtpack.  Although I typically play BG2 for the gameplay and not the storylines I would be giving you a disservice if I did not recommend this mod.  It’s simply the best mod I’ve played to date.
Balance: N/A
Nalia’s character is not changed initially so this category was not rated.
Creativity: 20/20
Giving Nalia a romance seems like a no brainer considering all the effort the main character goes through to save her and her keep in the unmodified game.  By filling such an obvious gap in the game you might expect a low creativity score, but how the author differentiates Nalia from the other Bioware NPCs is amazing.  In comparison to the relatively shorter dialogues of the other romancable females, many of Nalia’s dialogues are drawn out and almost always have to do with central themes of her character such as class struggle and aiding others.  Also the way in which dialogues are scripted in this mod makes it seem as you are almost talking to a real person given how much she brings up previous conversations and how you responded to them.  Overall I was just impressed by the quality of writing – the presentation and writing itself is just so damn good, and I’m not even really a huge fan of the romance plots.
Dialogue & Quests: 20/20
Nalia’s dialogue is very consistent with the theme that Bioware had set for her and is very distinct from that of other NPCs.  There isn’t an overbearing amount of quest content but the excellent dialogue and expansion of Nalia’s character is what this mod is all about anyway.  Also the amount and quality of dialogue responses for the main character are amazing.  They range from the humorous, to the serious, to the annoyed in such a large gradient that you find you have 4-5 response choices for almost any line of dialogue.
Integration: 48/50
There are parentheticals here, but with the Flirtpack (http://www.pocketplane.net/npcflirt) consistency is not broken that much.  The times when parentheticals (or action descriptions) are used instead of dialogue or in-game actions are well done and interesting.  As opposed to many other mods where parentheticals seem to be used because it is easier to convey an idea; in the de’Arnise Romance parentheticals seem to only be used in the flirts (where their use is the status quo) and in instances where using dialogue or in-game actions are simply unable to convey what the author is trying to do.  In all honesty this is the only mod where I have seen this done effectively.  This de’Arnise mod is the definitive example for use of parentheticals without breaking integration.
Portrait: N/A
No alternate portrait was set up during my install, so I’m not going to evaluate this category.  The mod promo art does include a nice alternate portrait, in case you are looking for one though.
Voicing: 13/20
Nalia doesn’t get any extra voicing from the mod other than here already included Bioware lines.  The music associated with the Nalia romance is adequate; I personally would not have chosen a guitar (or whatever string instrument is chosen here) but it still gets the job down by not breaking the mood or by being irritating.


Name: Kelsey (ToB)
Version: 2.2
Website: http://www.pocketplane.net/kelsey
Type: NPC
Score: 88 %
Overview:
The Kelsey NPC mod features a neutral good, male, human, sorcerer with a large amount of dialogues and banters. Additionally Kelsey has possible romance tracks with both the PC and Imoen. Of important note is that a significant amount of Kelsey’s lines are voiced, making him possibly the most complete non-Bioware NPC available. Unlike most NPC’s available, Kelsey does not have ridiculous stats and instead derives most of his strength and usability from his class.
Balance: 9/10
Kelsey’s character is well balanced and is not overally powerful. He features average stats and only one over-powered item instead deriving most of his usefulness from his class, sorcerer. Kelsey won’t make your game ridiculously hard with unavoidable sidequests nor will he make it boringly easy with overpowered abilities, resulting in a near-perfect balanced NPC.
Creativity: 18/20
One of the top aims for any mod is that it should add new creative and original content to Baldur’s Gate II. Kelsey, being a neutral good male sorcerer adds something that is sorely missed in unmodified Baldur’s Gate II – a good aligned single class magic user (not to mention a sorcerer, a class not represented among the default NPCs). Kelsey’s romance with Imoen is also a creative plus as it helps not only to expand Kelsey’s character but also the character of Imoen. Even Kelsey’s seemingly uneventful background as a merchant is original compared to other NPCs (who hail from distant lands or were born from nobility). Kelsey’s items could use a little more background but they do allow Kelsey to cast completely new spells which have new graphics.
Dialogue & Quests: 15/20
Kelsey’s dialogue is particularly well written and fits in fairly well with the normal game. Although the Kelsey and Imoen romance is an inventive aspect of the mod, I found their dialogue to be largely marginal but with a few bright spots – not quite as good as the rest of his dialogue. The largest mark against Kelsey’s dialogue is the volume (size) of it, there is a ton of it, and it seemed as if Kelsey’s relationship with Imoen attempted to push itself in front of the main storyline in Throne of Bhaal (this may not be as big an issue with people who have completed the game multiple times, but this was on my first go around of Throne of Bhaal). (On a side note I never did Kelsey’s Shadows of Amn quests as I only played Throne of Bhaal with him – as such they have not been taken into consideration.)
Integration: 45/50
Kelsey’s character integrates with the game and normal Bioware NPCs fairly well, and with few exceptions makes a smooth addition Baldur’s Gate II. The most stark examples of how Kelsey does not quite fit in are that he levels up during your first meeting, which allows you to set most of his spells (not wholly a bad thing, just inconsistent), and he talks far more than any other NPC. Besides those couple points Kelsey fits into Baldur’s Gate II extremely well.
Portrait: 8/10
Most people may think it odd that I rate portraits when I rate a mod, but what is the most eye-catching part of any NPC mod? What initially grabs your interest? What gets you to click on that link to a site to learn more about the NPC? That’s right, it's the portrait! I normally pick my class, race, and gender for a PC based on the most interesting portrait I kind find, in a large sense the portrait of a character is just as defining as his/her/its dialogue. Although Kelsey’s portrait is not a particularly riveting work of art, it does have correct head proportions and fits in very nicely with the other portraits of normal Bioware NPCs, which easily projects it ahead of many other mods in this category.
Voicing: 20/20
Kelsey’s voicing is exceptional – it has the correct volume to be consistent with Bioware’s NPCs, is in character, and he has some entertaining select sounds. Just about perfect.


Name: Saerileth (SoA)
Version: 13
Website: http://www.gilalion.com/saerilethmod.htm
Type: NPC
Score: 85 %
Overview:
Saerileth is a 15-year old Cavalier sent form Outer Planes to destroy an ancient enemy.  She offers a surprisingly amount of dialogue in an antiquated dialect in addition to a multitude of quests and some of the most interesting plot twists outside of Yoshimo.  Although more prone to bugs than some other mods –  if you are playing BG2 for a roleplaying aspect you should definitely look at installing this mod.  The romance portion of the mod seems to be widely regarded as one of the community’s favorites.
Balance: 7/10
Saerileth is one the weaker characters you can acquire initially.  Notably she doesn’t have many points in two-handed sword proficiency (IE, not optimized for using Carsomyr) but she also has a few nifty items which give her things like permanent protection from evil.  Her stats aren’t particularly amazing either so don’t expect her account for 80% of your party’s kills but she won’t finish too far behind the stock NPCs.  She’s not a power-gaming caliber NPC but you probably won’t be focusing on doing a speed run with her anyway.
Creativity: 20/20
I have to commend the author’s on their creativity here – Saerileth speaks in old-English and is not really from around Amn, she’s also a lot younger than the other characters, and has a somewhat interesting but naďve view of the world.  Basically she adds something that is refreshingly new in comparison to the stock NPCs.  All of these things combined with well done quests and plot twists throughout her dialogue trees easily catapult this mod to near the top of any modlist.
Dialogue & Quests: 18/20
Excellent dialogue, although there is a fair amount of parentheticals. Her dialogue and romance/friendship trees are well written and worth looking into if you typically enjoy the ones from the original NPCs.  She also likes to comment on items, which is a nice change that could be added for the Bioware NPCs.  Her quests are pretty grand in scale and ambition but suffer from a lack of polish – having said that they add much more than a few bugs can detract and help flesh out Saerileth’s character. 
Integration: 41/50
A few bugs can force you to do some reloading and can cause some pretty horrendous compatibility issues with other mods but in general you’ll be okay as long as you don’t go overboard on installing NPCs.  The quests do take the focus off the main storyline a bit, but if your beating BG2 for the Nth time you probably won’t mind.  You’ll be able to tell the Saerileth mod is a mod NPC but it won’t detract from your experience too much as she offers such a different experience than the stock NPCs.
Portrait: 10/10
Portrait is very well done and has good head/body ratios compared to the stock NPCs.  The portrait does a good job of showing a young character who could be a Paladin.
Voicing: 15/20
Like the Yasraena mod Saerileth’s volume level is a little high but her voiceover is much less monotone and sounds much more sincere. The audio could be better but the current voiceover set does an adequate job of expressing Saerileth’s concerns.


Name: Valen (SoA)
Version: 45
Website: http://weidu.org/valen.html
Type: NPC
Score: 82%
Overview: The Valen NPC makes Valen, your contact with the rival guild, a possible party member.  Valen is a chaotic evil, thief/fighter vampire with ridiculously high stats and advantages, but at the cost of some serious disadvantages.  In comparison with many other NPC mods, Valen makes many sections of the games easier rather than harder, although there is a wealth of new additions to pose problems for her.  The real strength of the Valen NPC mod is its unique presentation of the NPC’s character through her in-game actions more than her dialogue.
Balance: 9/10
Valen’s stats are insane.  There is no other way to put it, she has high marks in every statistic and her stats increase as the game progresses.  Additionally she has the ability to level drain opponents and as the game progresses she can drain as many as four levels per hit.  Besides being able to level drain opponents she moves at incredible speed at night, outstripping any character not wearing boots of speed.  On top of all these advantages Valen even has a custom script that allows her to search for traps and remain hidden in shadows.  Furthermore she turns into gas form when lowered to 25% health.  So how’s all this balanced?  Valen has a serious aversion to sunlight, its not instant death thanks to some nifty armor, but I assure you she is toast in any daylight battles.  To counter her level drain you can install a component that gives more enemies immunity to level drain, but even without it you will still run into some challenging encounters.  Although it is almost impossible to actually kill Valen (enemies must kill her gaseous form) she cannot be revived which I believe is a reasonable enough counter balance.  The biggest balancing factor, though, is Valen’s attitude.  She will basically cause riots by munching on peasants, backtalking nobles, and laying waste to temples.  You may have a real tough character in Valen, but fighting your way every where and missing out on the “Good” quests and items is a tradeoff you have to be willing to take.
Creativity: 20/20
What I love about the Valen mod is its creativity – rather than emphasize the NPC’s character through parentheticals, or even dialogue, her character is displayed more through her actions (and not just quest-related actions).  Weimer has created an NPC that utilizes the gaming medium, other NPCs are revealed through that dialogue box on the bottom screen, heck even the Bioware ones tend to follow this pattern.  Weimer’s presentation of Valen is much different than any other NPC, but I would say to a large degree, his presentation is simply superior to the traditional “read a bunch of dialogue on the bottom of the screen.”  Even if you prefer the presentation of an NPC through the traditional manner, Valen should give you a refreshing change.
Dialogue & Quests: 18/20
Valen does not have many quests (I believe she only has one specific encounter) but she changes the outcome of many of the current ones and injects where appropriate.  The lack of a huge overarching quest may be a little disappointing (but not as disappointing as a poorly done overarching quest), but it keeps the focus on the main character and storyline. 
Integration: 42/50
The largest noticeable difference of Valen is her items.  Most of her special abilities are conferred by her items, which seems a little sloppy in terms of making her seamless integration into the game.  She also has little variety in voiceover which can become annoying (hearing “I am hidden” can be a little irritating after the 500th time).  Additionally her ability to hide in shadows and find traps seems a little on the excessive side.  Besides these few minor things I believe she integrates fairly well, her presence is reacted to a significant amount of characters throughout the game so she doesn’t feel left out.
Portrait: 8/10
The flower in her portrait seems a little out of place, but otherwise the portrait has fairly good proportions and fits in fairly well with Bioware NPC portraits.
Voicing: 10/20
Valen just uses a standard voiceset, and while not that great, it is still way better than a poor voiceset.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2008, 12:58:01 AM by Rodman49 »

Offline Rodman49

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Reviewed NPCs
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2006, 02:53:27 AM »
Name: Keto (SoA)
Version: 3
Website: http://www.pocketplane.net/keto
Type: NPC
Score: 88%
Overview:
The Keto mod adds a female Human Bard who has forgotten who she was.  You'll find her in the Five Flagons Inn in the Bridge District telling stories about familiar places from Baldur's Gate I.  She's an extremely weak combat character but does feature extensive dialogue that you would expect from a bard type character.  Although the mod is one of the best in terms of production quality and integration, the Keto NPC is for those people looking specifically for a bard mod NPC, it has an abundance of great writing but a "Plain Jane" character and not any readily accessible quests or encounters.
Balance: 3/10
Keto is a bard.  A bard in 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons no less.  By definition she must be a terrible in combat.  Bards for those of you fortunate enough to have never used them, plain suck.  They lack the capacity to fight well with weapons, have few spells, and only have the thief skill pick pocket.  In addition to being an awful class she has mediocre stats.  The only thing holding the boat up in this category is that you do not have to face any ridiculous over the top encounter in this mod.
Creativity: 15/20
Like the Kelsey mod, the Keto mod features a seemingly average person being caught up with your party and going along for the ride.  However the Kelsey mod has an NPC with extraordinary ability, a sorcerer; while the Keto mod features an underwhelming bard.  The banters, her quests, voicing and dialogue are all top of the line and possibly the best of any NPC I have played; unfortunately this "Plain Jane" character just doesn't mesh well with the epic storyline of Baldur's Gate II.  She is no epic adventurer, she is just an awful bard.
Dialogue & Quests: 20/20
The dialogue in this mod is flat out incredible.  She has a ton of banters, plenty interjections, and some great interactions with the local patrons in taverns around Amn.  In my playthrough she didn't have any specific combat encounters but her quest was appropriate for her character class.  Additionally her quest has multiple endings which is a nice touch.
Integration: 49/50
This mod is clearly the best the community has to offer in regards to integration and polish.  Some of the voicing in her quest is a little off but that is nitpicking, other than that this mod is pretty much perfect in this category.
Portrait: 8/10
Its a good portrait, and shows Keto with a bottle of wine.  Nothing particularly special, but of course Keto really isn't that much of a special or eye-catching character.
Voicing: 19/20
A couple of the lines said by characters in her quest sound slightly off but otherwise the voicing in this mod is high quality - easily the equal of most of the Bioware voiceover.


Name: Kivan and Deheriana (SoA)
Version: 8
Website: http://www.gibberlings3.net/kivan/index.php
Type: NPC
Score: 80 %
Overview:
The Kivan and Deheriana modification adds Kivan and, depending on your in-game decisions, Deheriana, his wife, to your game.  Kivan is an Archer who was also in BG1, who has tracked you down and will find you in the Promenade after the Irenicus incident.  The initial release of this mod in 2006 did not really impress me much but having played version 8 I can definitely say it is a giant improvement.
Balance: 10/10
Kivan starts out with an interesting distribution of proficiencies that are not min-maxed but are still useful for most parties.  For example, he gave me a reason to actually keep The Impaler since he has proficiency points in spear which is atypical.  Additionally he’s not a stronger dual-class like Fighter/Mage.  He’ll still rack up about 20% of your kills, not as dominant as he was in BG1 but better than some of the stock NPCs.  Balance wise he is almost perfect, powerful enough that you aren’t gimped by him, but not a class ahead of the bhaalspawn.
Creativity: 16/20
Kivan by himself wouldn’t be the most creative mod ever, but with all the quests and tons of meaningful dialogue you can’t help but praise the author for the amount of genuinely cool ideas in the mod.  Kivan’s Ranger Hood, for instance, reminds me much of the Aes Sedai Warders from Wheel of Time.  Unfortunately some of the quests are not of the highest quality and a significant reliance on parentheticals leaves a little to be desired.
Dialogue & Quests: 15/20
Kivan’s dialogue is extremely well done, there is a lot of it but 90% of his actual dialogue is fairly engrossing.  The author does a great job of showing an almost broken elf dealing with his best friend being a bhaalspawn and the death of his wife.  He probably talks a bit too much for a ranger, but we’ll cut him some slack because he’s a nancy tree-loving elf.  The quests ideas are interesting and have variable outcomes but never materialized correctly in my playthrough.
Integration: 40/50
Parenthetical use has been significantly decreased from the initial release which was a welcome change.  On the other hand many areas that could have been done with simple dialogue or in-game actions are instead done with parentheticals.  There was one particular point where I thought I was going to be treated to an epic confrontation with some sweet dialogue and a little in-game cutscene but was instead treated to a . . . parenthetical.  Not only was this lame but it made Kivan stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to the other characters.  The quests don’t integrate that well into the game either, mainly because of suspect sound quality and timing.  Most of the dialogue of Kivan himself is relevant and interesting without being overbearing which may make him worth your download.
Portrait: N/A
It’s the BG1 portrait, so this category will not be evaluated.
Voicing: 15/20
The voiceover for Kivan himself is good and the music selection for his friendship/romance trees is excellent.  Unfortunately the voicing on some of the added quests/characters could be better – the biggest problem is the inconsistent volume of some characters that were added.


Name: Solaufein (SoA & ToB)
Version: 102
Website: http://weidu.org/main.html
Type: NPC
Score: 70%
Overview:
The Solaufein NPC mod makes Solaufein of Ust Natha a possible party member. Solaufein is a chaotic neutral or chaotic good, male, drow, fighter/mage with some innate powers and high stats. Additionally Solaufein has a romance track for the PC regardless of gender or race. Of important note is that the Solaufein NPC mod is very challenging, especially for new players (like me) so I’d only recommend him to veteran players.
Balance: 6/10
Initially you may look at the wealth of 18’s in Solaufein’s statline and think he is overpowered. In my game this hardly happened to be the case as Solaufein at low levels isn’t particularly powerful and many of his specific encounters are insanely difficult. One Solaufein specific battle took me a grand sixteen attempts to beat it, not a particularly fun or entertaining experience. Supposedly at high levels Solaufein becomes very powerful, but you have to get to that level first. Also Solaufein seemed to lose his innate Dimension Door in the expansion Throne of Bhaal.
Creativity: 20/20
The addition of another Drow to the game helps give more background to the Drow race for those who do not have much background in forgotten realms. Solaufein’s class is also not duplicated by any other Bioware NPC giving the PC a new option for a party member. Weimer, the mod’s author, uses Solaufein to ask complex questions about philosophy and expound poetry giving Solaufein a deeper and more somber feel. Solaufein’s odd background as a Drow in addition to his deep dialogue make him arguably the most creative NPC available.
Dialogue & Quests: 13/20
Solaufein’s dialogue is well written and deep with its poetry and philosophical questions but it does not fit in terribly well with what his character seems like in normal Shadows of Amn nor his class as a fighter/mage (I find his poetry more derserving of a bard class). Besides the dialogue seemingly uncharacteristic of a Drow fighter/mage there also seems to be an excess of poetry, some poetry may serve as a refreshing sidetrack to the game, but Solaufein expounds his incessant ramblings constantly – I’d personally like to see less poetry and more interactive philosophical questions. Solaufein’s quests are very difficult, to the point of frustration if you are at low-level, but are well thought out and expand upon Solaufein’s character, certainly if you are looking for mods to make the game more challenging, pick up the Solaufein mod. (I never completely finished Solaufein’s quests as I became stuck on one of them, however the score for the Dialogues and Quests has not been docked for the content I was unable to evaluate.)
Integration: 35/50
Solaufein’s character integrates fairly well with the normal Bioware NPCs and the atmosphere of Baldur’s Gate II (his normal character was already in the game, just not joinable). The most striking examples of his lack of integration is that his graphic changes from when you are in the Underdark to when you can accept him into your party on the surface world, and his dialogue, although good, does not fit in particularly well the dialogue of other characters. The upgraded difficultly of Solaufein encounters compared to the normal encounters also makes Solaufein stick out as a mod character (his first quest was much harder than the final battle).
Portrait: 6/10
Most people may think it odd that I rate portraits when I rate a mod, but what is the most eye-catching part of any NPC mod? What initially grabs your interest? What gets you to click on that link to a site to learn more about the NPC? That’s right, it's the portrait! I normally pick my class, race, and gender for a PC based on the most interesting portrait I kind find, in a large sense the portrait of a character is just as defining as his/her/its dialogue. Solaufein’s initial portrait is terrible, it is horribly out of proportion with other Baldur’s Gate II NPC portraits. The only thing redeeming about the initial portrait is in fits in marginally with the poet/philosophical view of Solaufein. Given the poor quality of Solaufein’s initial portrait and the relative popularity of the mod, there are a multitude of alternate portraits available, I prefer one found by Kairos at the Pocket Plane Group Forums – I went ahead and cropped it as best I could, just extract this zip into the “override” folder in your Baldur’s Gate II directory – http://www.40kzone.com/staff/rodman49/solaport.zip (The original portrait is used for scoring, but a +1 bonus was given to the score based on Weimer providing a decent selection of alternates.)
Voicing: 11/20
The Solaufein mod features almost no voicing, although the romance does have appropriate music when romance dialogue comes up. The voicing (select commands) for Solaufein comes from his original soundest and is passable overall.


Name: Yasraena (SoA)
Version: 8
Website: http://www.gilalion.com/yasraenamod.htm
Type: NPC
Score: 68%
Overview:
The Yasraena mod adds a female Drow elf looking for her lost companion.  You’ll find her at the end of the opening dungeon (and she’s even Dungeon-Be-Gone compatible)!  She’s a powerful dual shortsword wielding Fighter; however, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend her over stock NPCs or other mod NPCs if you are looking for a characterful and compelling addition to your party.
Balance: 8/10
Yasraena is no slouch in combat; she starts out the game with two magical shortswords and all of her proficiency points in two weapon style and shortsword.  In this regard she reminds me of a somewhat power-gamed character with her specialized skill set and 18/97 Strength and 18 Dexterity.  In my game she was the most powerful character in my party throughout the early section of the game (to Chapter 3).  However she kind of needs to be powerful to compete with the other options you have for Fighter types in the main game (Minsc, Keldorn, Valygar, etc.).  If you have something like the underrepresented items mod (http://weidu.org/underrep.html) installed she’ll benefit greatly from the new shortswords.
Creativity: 10/20
The Yasraena mod adds another Drow to the surface world but she contrasts a whole lot with Viconia – in many respects she is her complete opposite.  Unfortunately I found her personality underwhelming, her background mediocre, and her lack of cool special abilities and whatnot disheartening.  She’s not a clone of any other mod character or Bioware NPC, but she’s just not as compelling as any of the rest of them.  She does have an interesting “romance” tree but it still measures up poorly to other alternatives.
Dialogue & Quests: 10/20
Jesus Christ the parentheticals.  This mod has way too many of them, instead of using actual dialogue or character actions in game a large percentage of Yasraena’s “dialogue” is descriptive text about how she looks or what she is doing.  Additionally her dialogue doesn’t really show a consistent or compelling character, at times she’ll berate party members about their surfacer ways and at other times she’ll act completely lost and politely ask for you to explain things.  In some respects her dialogue is either redundant or just not damn interesting.  Her quests don’t add much to the game and there is no direction given on what you should do, especially near the beginning.  On top of this the first quest is a bloody FED-EX quest, I was expecting something a little more exciting – you know, something that may have included a battle, or cool dialogue choices, or something else inventive.
Integration: 40/50
I didn’t notice any bugs and the mod is pretty polished.  Yasraena doesn’t have too much dialogue like some other mods (then again her dialogue is of lesser quality).  The excessive use of parentheticals makes Yasraena stand out a lot however, even when you have the flirt and banter packs installed – which make use of parentheticals but to a much lesser degree.  Her voice over is at a different volume than the stock NPCs though which makes her standout a ton in combat.
Portrait: 10/10
Hands down best original portrait in the community.  It looks great although she seems a little too fragile in the potrait to be a 18/97 Strength Fighter.
Voicing: 10/20
Volume is a little too high so you’ll be hearing her over even Minsc in combat.  The voiceover is a little monotone also, probably to give a somewhat ponderous feel to her dialogue but it sounds like she is just drolling on.  However her voiceover is more than done in most mods and gives Yasraena a little character that would be hard to obtain otherwise.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 04:33:29 PM by Rodman49 »

Offline Rodman49

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Chopping Block
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2006, 03:04:42 AM »
Name: Fade (SoA)
Version: 2
Website: http://www.spellholdstudios.net/ie/fade
Type: NPC
Score: 65 %
Overview:
Fade, an NPC for the Shadows of Amn portion on BG2, is a Tiefling thief connected to the Shadow Thieves.  You can only get her by allying yourself with the Shadow Thieves which does limit some of your initial options.  Fade is an interesting character who has a lot of potential; but unfortunately this mod stumbles short in overall presentation.
Balance: 7/10
Fade's character has decent but not incredible stats, she also has an amulet which gives her significant bonuses for fighting Undead and other evil creatures.  These two elements are key in making most support characters (good but not overpowered stats and equipment).  Unfortunately she is not dual or multi-classed with fighter which would benefit her greatly nor is she an assassin or bounty hunter (the better thief kits).  Her character is decent and not overshadowing, but she is not as powerful as any of the stock thief characters (Yoshimo, Nalia, or Imoen).
Creativity: 15/20
Fade's background is interesting and in many respects her background parallels Viconia's.  However the conclusions Fade has come to differ widely from those of Viconia.  This aspect alone is enough to differentiate her and make her character standout.  Fade also has some great dialogue and interjections that create a consistent character (although not really consistent with her alignment).  Although the mod has a great character idea and background, the mod really suffers from a lack of an overarching quest or something that makes the mod stand out from a technical or gameplay perspective (one of a few examples that keep this mod from being a top-tier mod).
Dialogue & Quests: 12/20
The Fade mod suffers horribly from parentheticals.  It has a few things that do well with the Flirtpack (http://www.pocketplane.net/npcflirt), but right out of the gate you'll notice you are being bludgeoned over the head with parentheticals.  It would be acceptable if they were only in the flirt or romance portion but I would say almost half of her lines are filled with them.  Part of this seems to stem from the author having to describe the emotions or facial expression of the NPC that a player would normally pick up from voiced dialogue, because Fade has no spoken dialogue.  If you can get past all the parentheticals Fade is a genuinely compelling character with some great gems in her dialogue and interjections.  The mod also features a few quests, but the only one I managed to trigger was a "flavor" type quest for Aran Linvail - a well written quest but a larger quest with some type of significant encounter would have been appreciated.
Integration: 35/50
Parentheticals are the biggest culprit here, although a lack of music in her romance sequences and having no voicing also hurts this category.  Pile on a sub-par portrait and a character, although cool, that doesn't really seem to follow her listed alignment and you start to see integration as a major issue.  It's such a shame that there are this many glaring problems because the core character of this mod is certainly a top tier personality.
Portrait: 3/10
The portrait that comes packaged with the mod is well drawn but not in the Baldur's Gate style or proportions, to be honest it's a nice piece of art but looks terrible sitting on your right sidebar. 
Voicing: 12/20
There is no terrible voicing here and I think there may be a custom soundset, some music would have certainly scored a couple of more points here.  The lack of voicing is a disappointment but it is leagues ahead of crappy voice acting.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 02:49:00 AM by Rodman49 »

Offline Ashara

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 11:08:13 AM »
Heya, is there a possibility that you hold off from playing Kivan till March 8, 2006 when I am going to release the full version, as opposite to the one-week one? Because it will like... have content?
Hang in there. I'll try to make you glad you did.
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Three mods you shall make - one too bad and one to dread and one to love.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2006, 03:13:12 PM »
Sure, by any chance are you going to remove the parentheticals (and replace them with more actual dialogue)?

Offline Ashara

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 08:13:01 AM »
I deleted quite a lot of useless actions, and added plenty of new dialogues. But in the romance portion, because so many things have to be implied, there are still a lot of reponses that describe feelings or actions. A male character won't see too many of those. I think that use of parathenticals are somewhat typical for G3 mods (Delainey, Alkon).
Hang in there. I'll try to make you glad you did.
—George R.R. Martin

There is nothing better than imagining other worlds [...] to forget the painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I hadn't yet realized that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one.
-Umberto Eco, Baudolino

Three mods you shall make - one too bad and one to dread and one to love.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2006, 10:53:57 AM »
Alright, right now I'm doing the new Xan and Valen (in the same game), which ought to prove entertaining.  After that I'll probably do Keto and another mod; then I'll get to Kivan, which ought to put me around March 8, for when I should be ready to review.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2006, 08:40:50 PM »
Well, its going to take a little longer to review Xan/Valen - I accidentally saved over my game testing out a new PC . . . whoops.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2006, 04:32:36 PM »
Hmm, I've currently played through a game with Valen and Xan (just wrote the Valen review); working on Keto and Sari right now, might get to Kivan after that.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2008, 05:03:02 PM »
Jesus, it's been two years since I've updated this?!?  Well since the Widescreen Mod came out for BG2 I'm going to do another playthrough, expect a few reviews in the next week or so.

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2008, 08:50:42 PM »
Cool! Which NPCs are you planning on using?

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2008, 10:02:25 PM »
Just installed a ton, we'll see which ones actually intrigue me enough to get enough time for a playthrough.

Keto
Xan
Fade
Miriam
Saerilith
Yasraena
Auren
Kivan
Sarah
Amber
Beyond the Law
Luxley
Nalia Romance

(Hopefully we won't have any horrific crashes for putting all those in together).

Offline Kulyok

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2008, 01:34:47 AM »
You now have a horribly bloated override folder(.wav files alone make the bulk) - it's very likely you'll have lags.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2008, 01:52:13 AM »
You now have a horribly bloated override folder(.wav files alone make the bulk) - it's very likely you'll have lags.

Why would it lag, does it have to load all the files or does the engine have a terrible search algorithm when searching for files it needs to play?  I haven't noticed anything at all so far, but I'm just at Nalia's keep right now.

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2008, 02:14:44 AM »
It's possible that everything will be all right. But generally, I don't recommend instaling more NPC mods than is needed for one particular game: when override folder is >500 mb, it can and does cause slower performance, especially on slower machines.

Anyway, good luck: I hope you enjoy your playthrough.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2008, 08:45:12 AM »
It's possible that everything will be all right. But generally, I don't recommend instaling more NPC mods than is needed for one particular game: when override folder is >500 mb, it can and does cause slower performance, especially on slower machines.

Anyway, good luck: I hope you enjoy your playthrough.

Okay I've found one area where there is significant slowdown: the Promenade at night runs at like 10-15fps; admittedly I am running the game at 1440x900 so the game engine may just be struggling at that point and it may not be attributable to the override folder.  Everything else seems to be running fine though - except for the Saerileth mod which causes weird crap to happen with all the other stuff I have installed, guess I'll just have to writeup based on my last playthrough for that one.

Currently looking at Kivan and Nalia Romance for review, went from New Game -> Kill both Dragons -> Accept Thieves Guild Offer so far, and I'm extremely impressed with this newest version of the Kivan mod.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2008, 12:38:32 AM »
Alright, just reviewed Yasraena & Saerileth - still playing with Kivan and Nalia in the party - they'll probably be the next two up.

EDIT:  Is there any way to add images to posts?  Typical vB image code doesn't seem to work.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 01:28:50 AM by Rodman49 »

Offline Daulmakan

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2008, 05:22:53 AM »
I believe posting images is disabled for non-staff members. Just post the regular link.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2008, 07:38:21 AM »
Unfortunate.

On to another matter then, when you waltz into Spellhold's front door is something supposed to happen there?  Like I'm stuck in the first room and nothing is happening . . .

(AR1515)
http://gamebanshee.com/baldursgateii/walkthrough/asylum1.php

It looks like I should be able to go through the door on the top right but its locked . . . and I can't pick or bash it - the text is "This door is completely covered in magical wards. Someone very powerful must . . ."

Anyone have any idea what I do here, I'm stuck in the big room right at the entrance.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 07:41:00 AM by Rodman49 »

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2008, 07:43:19 AM »
You cannot exit Spellhold. Either you take Saemon's offer and go outside, or take the key from Irenicus' room, go downstairs and enter the portal to the Underdark.

Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2008, 07:59:21 AM »
You cannot exit Spellhold. Either you take Saemon's offer and go outside, or take the key from Irenicus' room, go downstairs and enter the portal to the Underdark.

Hmm, I'm not trying to "exit" Spellhold, I have just arrived, and I'm in the big entry room, but I am lost at where to go next.

EDIT:  Is there supposed to be a "tour" that starts here?  Some kind of scripted event?
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 08:03:24 AM by Rodman49 »

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2008, 08:06:34 AM »
You cannot exit Spellhold. Either you take Saemon's offer and go outside, or take the key from Irenicus' room, go downstairs and enter the portal to the Underdark.

Hmm, I'm not trying to "exit" Spellhold, I have just arrived, and I'm in the big entry room, but I am lost at where to go next.

EDIT:  Is there supposed to be a "tour" that starts here?  Some kind of scripted event?

From what I remember, Irenicus is meant to appear as the 'Co-ordinator' and take you on a tour before revealing who he is.  Hope that helps :)
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Offline Rodman49

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Re: BG2 NPC Mod Reviews
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2008, 04:21:53 AM »
From what I remember, Irenicus is meant to appear as the 'Co-ordinator' and take you on a tour before revealing who he is.  Hope that helps :)

Whew, finally got it working - I had to go back to the Pirate Lord and get inserted that way.

Offline Rodman49

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Lag Reports
« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2008, 09:40:51 PM »
Alright, I'm experiencing pretty severe lag in a few areas . . . specifically:

Promenade @ Night
Druid Grove
Mindflayer Dungeon (By far the worst, can't move mouse unless game is paused)

Game runs the same whether I'm in widescreen or normal mode so I don't think its anything graphical.  Probably something in scripting or audio files of one of the mods?

Anyway I'm going to uninstall all the mods that I'm not using . . .

*EDIT - Think my comp got virus-ed up pretty hard.  Damn people using IE on my machine.  Probably what was causing it.  Going to have to install BG2 on my laptop while I format . . .
« Last Edit: March 16, 2008, 01:00:47 AM by Rodman49 »

 

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