Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is an incredible game, but its entertainment factor has less to do with Overhaul's contributions than it does with the fact that it was such a great game in the first place.
Everything you love about your RPGs today was, in all likelihood, originally inspired by Baldur's Gate. Excellent writing, satisfying combat, engaging quests, memorable characters...the game -- or rather, the series -- has it all. Baldur's Gate is a classic, so it makes sense that Overhaul Games, a division of Beamdog, decided to give it, well, an overhaul in the form of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition.
There's no question that Baldur's Gate has aged well and is still fun to play today despite originally being released in 1999. But how much of BG:EE's fun factor is thanks to Overhaul and, more importantly, is it worth the $19.99 price tag?
Feels Like Home
For those unfamiliar with the game and its premise, Baldur's Gate has you take control of a player character that initially sets out to investigate an iron shortage plaguing your homeland, the Sword Coast. But when your adoptive father is slain as you begin your journey and your investigations go deeper, you begin to unravel a conspiracy that ultimately has you come face-to-face with Sarevok, the leader of an evil organization known as the Iron Throne and the game's main antagonist.
As you make your way through the game, which is played from an isometric perspective, you meet other adventurers that can join your party, giving you control of up to six total characters, including the one that you create at the start of the game.
The game may sound like it takes itself a little too seriously, but it's a blast to play through, especially given that it's wonderfully written and even quite humorous at times; a side quest involving a mage who has accidentally turned himself into a chicken is probably one of my favorites. Rest assured, the world of Baldur's Gate is full of complex, intriguing characters and fulfilling sidequests that blow today's common fetch quests out of the water. But this is nothing new. In fact, every aspect of Baldur's Gate remains intact in BG:EE, including the story, the NPCs, the controls and perhaps most importantly, the combat system, which is based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition rules.
There are obviously some complicated elements to this combat system that take place behind the scenes, but the basic premise here is that combat is not randomized, but rather takes place in a series of rounds where actions are based on dice rolls. For instance, each time a character attacks, whether or not they hit their target (and how much damage they do) is based on a dice roll and the modifying factors that are granted by the equipment they are using. Similarly, when a player is targeted by a spell, whether or not they suffer certain effects and how much damage they take is based on their saving rolls.
Though the combat unfolds on the screen in real time, the game is actually performing these calculations in the background with every action you take. And perhaps the best part is that the game can be paused at any time, lending a heavy aspect of strategizing to the game's combat system as you meticulously load up a series of commands and movements for each of your party members before unpausing to allow the mayhem to unfold. Granted that may not sound appealing to some, but for the strategizing types that want a little more depth to their RPG combat than just straight up hack-and-slash, Baldur's Gate is the game for you.
But, as mentioned, while these are all enjoyable aspects of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, none of them are new to Baldur's Gate; in fact, they're the very elements that made the game such a masterpiece in the first place. So what's new, then?
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