Aside from approximately five hours I played three years ago, I had never experienced BioWare’s classic RPG, Baldur’s Gate. With the release of Overhaul’s rendition in the form of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, I finally got to sit down and drop in the hours this game rightfully deserves. Let me just say, I’m glad I did.
For those of you that don’t know, Baldur’s Gate was a giant role playing game created by BioWare back in 1998. It used the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rule set for its combat and game mechanics. It featured an isometric view and offered players the ability to pause to issue orders to party members orders. Those of you who have played Dragon Age: Origins or Knights of the Old Republic should be familiar with this feature.
I have recently begun playing Dungeons & Dragons using the D&D 4th Edition. Coming from that to AD&D 2nd Edition rules in Baldur’s Gate was a big change, but with some quick reading of the digital manual, I understood the mechanics very well.
With the title Enhanced Edition, many would believe that this is a remake of sorts. That is not the case at all. There are some improvements to the UI and (allegedly) over 400 bug fixes from the original game. There are some all new additions that I will mention later on. The game supports widescreen, but that is about all that has been changed visually. This still looks like it was made in 1998.
The new additions that Overhaul has included with the Enhanced Edition are a new arena-based expansion, added customization options from Baldur’s Gate II, three new characters to join your party and revised cut scenes that feature illustrations rather than CGI.
Creating your character can be as complex as you want it to be. It all depends on how you want to play the game. If you want to jump right in, there is a list of pre-made characters for you to choose from.
The new party members can be found relatively early in the game, and each offers their own quests, specific character traits and voice acting. The Black Pits addition is much like a combat arena. Each round becomes increasingly more difficult, and gaining experience points and obtaining better gear is essential for survival. This can also be said about the story mode.
The game is no walk in the park. If you go into battle unprepared, you will die. Pausing is of the utmost importance when in combat. This is very much a tactical game that will require your full attention while battling foes. It is slow going at first, but once the combat clicks, it is very rewarding. Combat is not the only thing to look out for. It seems like everything is out to kill you, traps are everywhere and if you’re not careful, you can win a difficult battle only to be killed while looting the treasure chest in the back of the room. Leveling up and progression is also a slow burn. Unlike new RPG’s where you seem to level up every 10 minutes, you will be at the same level for hours in Baldur’s Gate.
That is the one drawback to this game. I can tell that Overhaul wants to get the newer generation of RPG players into this classic game, but the difficulty and old school feel may turn off younger players to Baldur’s Gate. With some patience and a few lucky rolls of the dice, this can be an amazing experience for new players. It has some of the best story telling I have seen in a game, and the actual role play aspects are genuine. The dialog is thought out and rather funny in many instances, and the characters you meet are all memorable.
The game features online multiplayer that, as of right now, only allows you to play with others if you know their IP address. Overhaul has stated that matchmaking will be added later on and even cross platform play with the iOS and Android device players. Unfortunately, I am unable to comment on the online play at this time.
The game is nothing short of epic. If you wished, you could put over 50 hours in this game and still not have everything done. The Sword Coast expansion is in the package as well. The new characters fit well with, and while still the experience is a very challenging one, it can also be very rewarding. If you have played Baldur’s Gate before and want to experience it again with some new features, there is enough here to garner the $20 price tag. Players of modern RPGs should give this game a shot as well not only to experience a classic RPG, but to see just how well the mechanics stand the test of time. The game may not be perfect, and it may not be particularly easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic game that RPG fans of all shapes shouldn’t try.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.