I usually consider Ascension part of the true game, since it restores a lot of stuff back the way it was originally meant to be, and makes the epic finale truly epic.
And yes, I agree. Baldur's Gate as a whole is my favorite game series ever.
Still, there's a lot of stuff that never made it into the game, and even to date has never been added (or not done as intended when it is). So mods are occasionally helpful. I just dislike the ones that are poorly written, introduced even more broken items/classes/spells then are legitimately in the game already, and/or are buggy as crap.
Just about all of them suck, yes,. But if you pick-and-choose your mods, and take care when installing certain components, they will enhance your experience tenfold.
Some mods that I consider absolute must-haves are:
Ascension G3's Tweaks, Fixpack, Spell Revisions, Sword Coast Stratagems II, Divine Remix and the Widescreen mod Banter pack, and Quest pack Dungeon-Be-Gone and Weimers ease of use mod
The above mods allow for an incredible gaming experience which is balanced, challenging, and just damn fun in general. Specifically, the AI improvement mods are just amazing, and the spell revision mods (when carefully choosing which components to install) are downright genius. It's also worth noting that all the above mods all run well, run well *together*, and aren't full of bugs or prone to crashes.
Indeed. I was visiting my parent's home the other day, and when my brother and I were asked by our mother what we thought the best video game of all time was, we just looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Baldur's Gate II". I have yet to see a single game that can match this in terms of depth, characterization, strategy, general storyline, length, diversity, and satisfaction. One of those? Well, yes. Two or three? A few games are indeed better in two or three of these aspects. All of them at once? Never!
Age of Decadence isn't out yet... Still reserving my opinion until I play a full release version, but so far it's got the most potential of matching the BG series' accolades of anything I've seen in the past 10-15 years. --- Forgive him father, for he knows not what ticket he purchases... Yeah I do... see? Zombies! =^.^=