Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition Review
Go for the eyes Boo, go for the eyes!
Fourteen years ago, almost to the day, Baldur’s Gate, Bioware’s first game, took PC gaming by storm. In an era when shooters were rising to the forefront of the industry, many credit Baldur’s Gate with revitalizing the PC RPG genre. I love a good re-release as much as anyone, but fourteen years is a long, long, time and that had me wondering just how the game I loved so much, back in high school, would hold up. Whether you’ve played the original, or any of later Dungeons and Dragons PC games, or are simply a fan of good RPGs’s you should definitely have a look at Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition.
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition isn’t simply a version of the game that is compatible with current versions Windows but, as the title suggests, is an overhauled version of the beloved original. Fans can step back into the streets of Candlekeep with full widescreen support and a number of other improvements; both to the back end and the front end.
If you aren’t familiar with the Bioware D&D games, Baldur’s Gate controls like a mix between Diablo and a real-time strategy game. You will eventually have up to six party members to control, and each can be issued commands separately or the party can be instructed to attack as a whole. Hitting the space bar will pause the game, so you can queue up commands for each character, and this is something you should get used to doing.
Since the game abides by Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition rules, it may be much harder than the RPG’s you’re used to playing. Monsters don’t scale to your level and, as anyone who has played D&D knows, low level characters can easily die in one hit. That said, there is a Quick Save button that you should learn to make liberal use of. The difficulty Baldur’s Gate presents is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Putting together the right party, with the right gear, will lead you to some satisfying victories and the open nature of this adventure will allow you to come back to an area you’re having trouble with, once you’ve grown stronger.
You may die quite a bit, in the beginning, but I suggest you stick with it since things will begin to go much more smoothly once you gain a few levels and recruit a few followers. Dying also comes with a price as you’ll have to grab all of the fallen character’s gear, then head to a priest to have them resurrected.
If you’re wondering about the graphics, the original rendered backgrounds that made the first release so impressive still look pretty good, even if the pixelated character models don’t. As far as performance goes, the loading times and overall speed of the game have been greatly improved, which is a good thing as there are a lot of loading screens.
You’ll also be treated to a few gameplay updates taken from the sequel, such as Character Kits and an expanded choice of races and sub classes, along with an entirely new game mode. The Black Pits is an arena battle mode that will have you create a new party and battle through a series of arenas. I tired of this mode quickly, but those of you who like competing for spots on leaderboards may enjoy trying to beat other player’s times.
Despite all of the enhancements that this edition carries there is one big caveat to the whole project, in that it doesn’t currently support Intel graphics chips. I know most PC gamers aren’t likely rocking an Intel GMA, but this seems like something that should have been worked out prior to the launch. Overhaul Games say that Intel support is coming, but buyer beware for now.
Both the standard game, and The Black Pits can be played online with up to six people via direct IP connection. You’ll have to create a secondary character, but if you and one friend want to play you can round out the party with other created characters instead of trying to find six human players. Unfortunately, the matchmaking system that Overhaul have promised didn’t make it into the game at launch and will be coming in a later update so if you want to play with other people you’ll need to know each other’s IP address, and work things out manually.
Despite the fact that a couple of big, promised, features are missing from the initial release, Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is well worth the $19.99 price tag. Whether you purchased a copy back in 1998, or have never played any of Bioware’s early games, you’ll enjoy this game for one reason; the original game design stands the test of time. If you want to know why everyone holds Bioware up as true pioneers, look no further.
Price: $19.99 PC / $9.99 iOS
Available On: PC (Beamdog.com) / iOS