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“Are you sure you want to quit? Boo will miss you.” No more heart wrenching, or tempting words exist in the history of RPGs.
One might ask, ‘Why ever are you reviewing a fourteen year old game?’ and I would answer ‘Shut it you!’, besides there is an Enhanced Edition out now, so there. Don’t you judge me with those judging eyes, I can see you in the corner back there.
Anyway, I shall not fall prone to distraction as Minsc may with furry little animals of dubious parentage, though I do suspect that squirrel outside my house may indeed be a giant mini space squirrel. I assure you I’m keeping an eye on it. That said, this is a game review at it’s heart so I suppose we should get to reviewing the game.
First! Baldur’s Gate is perhaps one of the greatest RPGs of all time, the fact that anyone even thought to remake and sell an “Enhanced” Edition for nearly half the price of a brand new game, and ex[ect to make money off if it proves it’s staying power. The often modded, deeply loved game based in Wizards of the Coast’s Forgotten Realms has sucked many a productive hour from my life, how many you ask? Well erm, I’m not sure I feel comfortable divulging that sort of information. Regardless I believe you can see that I am quite the fan boy, and reviewing the core content of a decade and a half old game seems a bit over done, and will likely just come out as me living in a state of perpetual nostalgia. So we won’t do that, instead we shall review only what the Enhanced Edition added to the game, that seems fair.
Beamdog added a number of things to the game to include several hours of added side quests, three new NPCs of real note, and an updated user interface. The new areas are just as strikingly detailed as the originals, a feat not easily overlooked considering the nature of the game. While the characters are still small sprites with detail that leaves one a bit wanting (It’s a fifteen year old game, get over yourself) the background maps are incredibly well done. This quality was not sacrificed in the least with edition of new areas, so that will have to go in the win column.
The three NPCs that were added to the game come with the typically wonderful banter one has come to expect from the Baldur’s Gate franchise. The voice acting, with a highlight on Raasad’s, and Dorn’s characters was in short, superb and a wonderful edition to the game. A game that in it’s original form is somewhat lacking in voiced scenes, outside of major sequences. The characters themselves are full of their own little quirks and eccentricities that make spending time with them and enjoyable experience. However, some of their side quests are a bit shallow in the end. Neera’s especially seemed rushed and unfinished, and leaves you wanting to know more. Overall however the new characters certainly add some new flair, without despoiling the core of the game and thus make it a more enjoyable experience.
Beamdog also added a side game outside the story line, called the Black Pits. Some people have questioned why they spent so much time on a feature that is essentially at it’s core a hack’n’slash in a game where combat may not be all that exciting. The Black Pits is full of amusing anecdotes, and wonderful voice acting however, and since it does not detract from the core game, I have no issues with it. It’s fun, tongue in cheek and an easy way to kill some time. In short if you don’t like Baldur’s Gate combat, avoid the Black Pits and you’ll not be harmed by missing the experience. But if you like the combat of this classic, then the Black Pit’s adds an amusing way to test out different characters and play with friends.
What they missed. Now, no game is perfect, the original surely had it’s share of bugs and exploits that you could expect from a game of it’s age. Fifteen years in video game years is a long time, it’s sort of like complaining that your Grandpa doesn’t move fast enough. Upon release Beamdog hadn’t fixed all these age old issues, and had added a number of there own. Most of these however have been rectified, so I’ll not harp on them to much. My biggest issue with the Enhanced Edition, is that outside of a few character options, if you don’t use Beamdog’s new NPC’s, not much was really added to the game. The new interface is nice and all, but I would have loved some more inter party ineraction, even if it wasn’t voice acted. So much could have been done that wasn’t, one thing in particular irked me more than a druid sucking down the blow back from a muffler. Kaigan’s quest, long a major bug that was never resolved in the original was ‘fixed’ by him simply giving up as soon as the party goes north. Why not just add a fun side quest for him you ask? Well I don’t know, because I’m asking the same question, so get in line.
Overall, now that most of the kinks have been worked out and the bugs have been flattened by so many dwarves’ mailed boots I have to say I believe the game is worth the money. This may just be an over excited fanboy talking here, but the sheer amount of hours of entertainment this game provides is worth the twenty dollars. If nothing else, if you don’t want to spend that much on a fifteen year old game, (ridiculous concept, I assure you) I highly recommend you pick up the original over at one of the retailers I won’t advertise here. It’s only about five dollars and it may just be the best five dollars you ever spend, far superior to that fast food burger you were going to spend it on in the first place.
So pick up your swords, kick evil’s butt, and manipulate that ‘Mouse Magic’ Edwin hates so much, and delve into the world of Baldur’s Gate.
Editor’s note: FailedWell is a good friend, back from the old days when D&D 3rd Edition was new and our group didn’t know how many Feats we were supposed to have. He also happens to be a fearsome DM and a great storyteller as well. Best to pay attention when he’s talking…