Arkanis is definitely there to protect the critical path, that's why he's the only character in both games that always instakills you. Even if you don't side with the thieves you can only progress when Aran Linvauil dies and you can only do this when you get the quest to do so and rather than make him unkillable up to that point they created Arkanis to let you know you couldn't do this willy nilly. It was a limitation of the game engine that it couldn't keep track of characters until they went into the questlog. That's probably why the main quest in the first game progressed not by killing the leaders, but by picking up their letters.
In the original BG1 you could charm Centeol the spider woman in cloakwood and she tells you she was cursed by Jon Irenicus and she hates her new form and asks you to kill her.
It irks me when people like the op compare the game to BG2. BG2 was the game where they already had the engine and most of the core mechanics and just needed to tweak and work on high level spells and abilities and quests and story. And it shows.
If anything it should be compared with BG1 and it compares well. There are a lot of different ways to play the game, lots of different ways to get core information. For all that video he posted did, the fact remains that BG1 and 2 plays more or less the same as an evil character as with a good one. A few quests here and there, a few different enemies, but more or less the same game. And the fact that BG2's party members had their own agendas seems to be the main criticism that the companions in EA get! In BG1 the quest and level design was extremely shallow until they added Durlags in the expansion.
I have a feeling that when it's released we'll be able to see vastly different play throughs of this game, depending on character alignment, companions, class and story choices.
I absolutely love the original series, but I couldn't disagree with his critique more. I mean describing the start of BG2 as a relaxing intro, where you're literally being tortured in a hellish archmage's lair is really not relaxing!
As for the start, you're captured by mindflayers. You have to escape or else there's no story. Throw in the fact that both the Hells/devils and the githyanki are and will be crucial elements of the story and it basically writes itself. His main gripe is you land on a beach for about 20 seconds of act 1.
I love the music in all the games, but the harpy encounter is next level music/sound design. But BG's music was iconic, I agree.
I do completely agree that the party formation/selection isn't great though. Last night I killed Priestess Gut's ogre and one of my characters was on the ledge. The stairs were burnt by the flaming sphere and I had to jump down and proned myself. However, when I switched to the character on the ledge, two party members jumped UP! I had to swap to them and they fell prone then another one jumped up too. 2 party members died from falling damage and I had to unchain the whole party to prevent them from following. It's not a great system.