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Posted by on Jan 21, 2013

Review: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition

Review: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition

Title: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition
Platform: PC, iPad (Reviewed on PC)
Developer: Overhaul Games
Publisher: Beamdog
Tagline: Sometimes, our memories forget to leave out details on classic experiences
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Wait for a Sale

It had been ages since I had gone and started up a game of Baldur’s Gate, when the new Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition crossed my desk. Immediately, my mind was thrown back to the late 9’s when Black Isle was putting out huge RPG experiences that were about not just stats and combat, but also with the depth of a quality story and choices that would let you build the story your way. It was an experience that I was jumping at the chance to play, my memory colored by the mechanics of the way games worked today, and not the designs of the 1990’s. To say that Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition left and impression on me might would be a gross overstatement, but not in the way you might think.

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The raw story of your character transforming from an innocent student to an all-knowing badass is still here, as are the character relationships and so much more that you will fondly remember. What is also here is the staggering difficulty that comes with a game designed in the late 1990’s. If you are accustomed to things like auto saving, regenerative health and just getting spells from an upgrade tree, you are in for a rude awakening.

For me, Baldur’s Gate was like someone taking off my training wheels and throwing me on a motorcycle without the knowledge of how a clutch works. I never remembered the original Baldur’s Gate being so difficult, but then I came to the realization that games have steadily made gameplay mechanics more accessible for purposes of broadening acceptance to a larger audience as well as making me not want to pull my hair out.

“Baldur’s Gate was like someone taking off my training wheels and throwing me on a motorcycle without the knowledge of how a clutch works.”

Sure, you might say, it might be difficult, but how bad can it be. Well, kind sir and madam, it was to the point that I was seriously debating just telling someone that I could not finish it after dying at least a dozen times during the first few encounters. Or when I came across my first disintegration – yes, disintegration where you lose a party member forever – as it never coming back again no matter what.

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Beyond that difficulty curve that takes quite a bit of time to learn, there are some great improvements here that add to an already, at least from my memory, a great game. You gain access to several new characters that were not in the main game, along with several new quests and a new area to explore. It also seems to take some things from the second Baldur’s Gate title for some ease of use and information. Sadly, area of effect notifications are not one of those things, which means that you are hit and miss as to whether that fireball spell you are about to use will hit your party until the damage is done.

The bigger bone that might be an issue is that a lot of the fixes that come from the Enhanced Edition are not just available via mods, but are free to anyone that wants to download them and go through the process of installing them. So the rub comes from whether you want to get these titles from somewhere else and install the mods or pay for the convenience of someone else having everything in one easy to download location. It seems like a trivial thing, but when the game ships at $20, it might be a better route to go.

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All in all, Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is a testament to capturing the feel and style of a game that is long since gone from existence. It is not about hand holding or treating you with dignity. Instead, it stays true to the hardcore experience that it was back in the late 1990’s, for better or worse. Just know what you are getting into when you hit that purchase and download button.

Saving Throw:

  • Numerous fixes to clean it up for today’s monitors and control schemes
  • A deep, rewarding narrative
  • Authentic to the Second Edition D&D Rulebook

Disintegration Spell:

  • Painfully hard until one learns the mechanics
  • Most fixes and patched items available for original release via mod community

Family Focus
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is a game that is probably okay for most from early teens and up, although younger ones might miss some of the accoutrements of current RPG titles. There are some tense themes, but nothing overly violent that will shock anyone teen and up.

[NOTE: This game has been provided by a company for the purposes of a review. All opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and has not been endorsed by any major studio or publisher.

Joseph Haygood

When not writing news and reviews for GGS Gamer, or hosting the truly terrible You Like the Worst Stuff podcast, I am actively seeking an on-call arch-nemesis.

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