Originally released in 1998, Baldur’s Gate quickly became one of the most popular and copied games of its time. Overhaul Games has recently released the Enhanced Edition, but how does the game hold up?
First of all, the core of the game is still there, it is still very much Baldur’s Gate, though there are some add ons. There is now a tutorial mode which you can play through first of all before you head off into the dark yonder. This teaches you how to move about, fight and generally use everything at your disposal. In a nutshell it condenses everything the tutor monks tell you into one handy section, without you having to run around to various characters.
The Black Pits are another addition to the game and here you are armed with six NPCs to fight waves of enemies. The pit is overseen by Baeloth the Entertainer, though it is hard to say how long this section would remain entertaining to play as it can get a little repetitive.
The main game however is pretty much as was, though there are some slight alterations here too. The introduction is now a more cinematic affair and there are similar cut scenes through out the game and these all blend really well with the older elements of the game. Both retro and new can now be seen in a higher resolution and in a larger window meaning you can see more of the game than before. The backgrounds have been given much more depth and life and the whole user interface (UI) is clearer. Not only is it graphically clearer, it is also more straight forward to use now, with items stacking better and everything being generally more user friendly.
But what of the gameplay? The core mechanics of the game have been left pretty much untouched and everything plays just as it did before. The characters do seem to get stuck in doorways and trees when left to find a path of their own, and occasionally wander off on a scenic detour. At one point I lost my main character as he had run off to the other side of the map for reasons unknown. The death means death element was also a surprising reminder of how things used to be and possibly the reason I still save my games so often. If your main character dies then that’s it, so save regularly and make sure you aren’t saving over anything important too.
Anyone who didn’t play the game originally may find it difficult and possibly frustrating though. RPGs have moved on a lot since Baldur’s Gate and if you don’t have the wave of nostalgia to ride on everything could seem dated and awkward. When the game first came out it felt dated even then, I had already been playing other games such as Myst, Tomb Raider or 7th Guest for several years. A newcomer to Baldur’s Gate in 2012 may find it even more dated. That said, it is certainly a game for fans of series or anyone who wants to play something a little different and they shouldn’t be disappointed in what they find.
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is still the giant-sized game of the original and the add-ons and tweaks have only served to improve it. This really is an enhanced edition of Baldur’s Gate.