Music

Michael Hoenig’s back at the helm of the soundtrack, and it fits the atmosphere of the game just as it did the first time around. Once again, the “Main Theme” sets the tone, beginning with a bracing, warlike passage then seguing into a slower, more ominous one. The battle themes are largely in the same vein, although they tend to be slower than in Baldur’s Gate, sometimes excessively so, as illustrated by the unimaginatively titled “Forest Battle II”, which sounds as if it’s trying to struggle forward while carrying a heavy rock, or the just as unimaginatively titled “City Battle II”, which feels as if it really wants to start, but stays trampling around in one spot because it can’t quite decide where to go. On the other hand, “Dragon Battle” (three guesses as to when it plays) successfully transmits the feeling of a full-on assault on a dangerous foe.

In order to further highlight the addition of romances, each of them has its own theme, which plays during romance-specific conversations, and while Anomen’s sounds overly pompous, with its prevalent trumpet (just like Anomen himself), each of the ladies’ themes are appealing in their own right. “Aerie’s Romance Theme” is twinkly and wistful, far lovelier to me than Aerie herself. “Jaheira’s Romance Theme” is melancholy and somewhat halting, a good illustration for both Jaheira’s sadness and hesitation. Unsurprisingly, “Viconia’s Romance Theme” has a dusky woefulness to it.

Come one, come allApart from these, the majority of the soundtrack is made up of different area themes. Amn is a wealthy merchant country with a Middle-Eastern vibe, illustrated by the eponymous Waukeen’s Promenade theme, which mixes a characteristic string melody with percussions and tambourine, quite fitting for what is, essentially, a bazaar. Strangely enough, however, none of the other areas of Athkatla have this distinct musical flavour, but rather resemble European Medieval music. While it’s very short, “City Gates”, which plays in the Gate District, is a brisk, bright melody that just calls for setting out on an adventure. The more festive “Crooked Crane”–the tavern located in the Gate District–sounds like something you might hear at a XIVth century feast. Other highlights can be found outside of Athkatla, such as “The Pirate Isle”, which plays in Brynnlaw and has a typical swashbuckler’s den feeling to it, albeit with a slightly more soulful note to it. And although I really don’t like the Druid Grove, I have to admit that its eponymous theme music evokes a pleasant melancholy. The De’Arnise Keep theme is both urgent and rousing. At the other end of the spectrum, “The Sahuagin City”, which plays in the City of Caverns, strikes a darkly foreboding chord.

There are also less successful offerings, such as “The Planar Prison”, which just sounds like a dark ambience, or the rather inchoate “Temple of Amaunator”.

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