Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Review
- Lots of improvements
- New content
- Hopefully setting a precedent for older games to still be market-viable
Not so much?
- Lack of tutorial
- Still too difficult early on
- UI controls haven't been updated
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is here, just two days shy of the 14th anniversary of it’s original release. It was just over 14 years ago that the Candlekeep was no longer safe, and an iron shortage developed in the land of Faerun. It’s essentially a rerelease of the original, and that makes me happy. Rereleases [...]
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is here, just two days shy of the 14th anniversary of it’s original release. It was just over 14 years ago that the Candlekeep was no longer safe, and an iron shortage developed in the land of Faerun.
It’s essentially a rerelease of the original, and that makes me happy. Rereleases give new players a chance to experience the beauty and wonder of classic games, and it gives the older crowd a chance to experience those classics once more. It’s also a chance to develop what is akin to DLC for decades-old games, and have it make financial sense.
For those of you who never played the original, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition brings back the original story. You play as an adventurer who must investigate the cause of an iron shortage, as well as discover why you’re the target of assassins. It’s a very involved and interesting plot that get more and more intricate the farther you go. The only changes to the art in Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition are resolution updates to support modern screens, as well as an overhaul of the cinematics. Animated cinematics, drawn by Art Direcor Nat Jones, have replaced all of the old cinematics. Each one is a beautifully crafted 2D masterpiece, and they fit with the overall aesthetic of the game. There are also 20 new characters portraits drawn by former Black Isle Studios protrait artist Jason Manley. If you compare the original to the enhanced edition, there really is no doubt that the new art and UI is beautiful and infinitely better. There is new music by Sam Hulick, who scored the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack; it’s pretty amazing stuff, and it really fits in with the aural atomosphere and feeling of the original stuff. There’s also all of the original audio by Michael Hoeing, and the game will allow for music, voice-overs and SFX in OGG Vorbis format, so adding extra stuff shouldn’t be hard for modders.
There is some new narrative content in Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, with tons of new sidequests that tie up loose ends, two brand new adventures with new areas, and the entirely new arena-based mini-campaign, The Black Pits. Without spoiling anything, I will say that all of the new writing is fantastic, and keeps things very tongue-in-cheek. If you thought Misc and Boo were good, the new content is definitely up your alley; if you didn’t, there’s also a fair amount of more serious-toned stuff added as well. In terms of the gameplay, not much has really changed. The original story is there, the difficulty has been tuned a little, though in true Baldur’s Gate fashion I died in the first fight. I was a little disappointed that modern UI sensibilities weren’t adhered to in Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition; things like hitting ESC brings up the pause menu, or a proper tutorial (even if it was a purely visual tutorial) were missing, and it was a bit disappointing. The new content more than makes up for it, however. The new evil paladin kit, as well as the new playable characters and adventures, plus bringing all of the improvements from the second game into this really help to streamline the experience and make it slightly more user-friendly. It’s certainly no 2000′s era 3D RPG, and I think it’s better for it. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is still as frustratingly fun as ever, and it has me thinking up new strategies when I’m not playing; I wonder if an all melee party (including melee casters like paladins or clerics) would work well in The Black Pits? See, I can’t get it out of my head. Over 100 games on Steam, and all I can think about is this. For re-playability, you’ve got the 2 new areas, new playable characters and party combinations, and the The Black Pits. There’s also cross-platform multiplayer in the works, so that you can play with people on iPad, Android, and PC/Mac. One of the other things of note that makes this such a great remake to keep playing is that the devs are working with some of the big modders to incorporate a lot of their fixes and content into the game. There is also full support for mods, so any extra that the community creates (and boy will it) can be easily integrated.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition has been retooled and rewritten to allow technical fixes for a lot of the issues that plagued the original. You can poke your head in this thread to see all of the stuff that is being added to the game. I know some people will complain that the original and the mods are still easy to get but consider this: Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition comes with all of this stuff pre-packaged or will be releasing post-ship, as well as utilizing the BG2: Throne of Baal engine, a lot of UI stuff from the second game, as well as updating everything possible. It’s taking all of the work from the past 14 years of the franchise, adding new stuff and fixing issues, and putting it out. For fans of the series, it’s worth it just for the new content, technical and UI updates; for first-time players, it’s a nicely conglomerated experience of the original.