"Getting Back to an RPG Classic"
1998 was big year in role-playing, at least for PC gamers, because it was the year western RPGs began to rise back into relevance from their long dormant state and battle against the JRPG console market. Baldur's Gate came out that year, and I remember it like it was yesterday. This isometric RPG title captured PC gamers' hours, as they toughed it out in the world of Forgotten Realms. Even today, Dragon Age beats its drum to the ancient tune of Baldur's Gate. This is why it is such a treat to receive Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition seems a bit archaic these days, but at the same time, it holds up quite well. There is a fairly traditional sense of dungeon-crawling, equipment hoarding, and character leveling, but Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition moves at a fair pace. Back in the day, Baldur's Gate set itself apart from console RPGs with the dozens of side-quests available at every turn and the highly customizable party and class options, echoing back to the heydays of western RPGs. The late 90s were saturated with JRPGs, which gave you maybe a handful of side-quests at a time and a few characters to put into your group (aside from the Suikodens and a few other games), so Baldur's Gate was refreshing and more accessible than say, Daggerfall.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition doesn't take the classic and update it much though. While a few new elements were added, including a couple new areas, you are mostly throwing 20 bucks down for numerous old bug fixes and a smooth execution of the game. Those who remember Baldur's Gate fondly will still have no problem going back and hacking through the world of Forgotten Realms. Even newbies with the right mindset, will be able to tackle this old-school RPG (uhg, do I really have to call it old school? I guess I'm getting old). Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition doesn't seem too hard for me because I grew up playing these types of RPGs. However, newer gamers will find Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition quite difficult. Nothing is nerfed, you'll have to strategize your formations and attacks, and even the most minor of enemies will take you down without the proper leveling and equipment. Going back to Baldur's Gate makes me realize just how easy some games and RPGs have gotten.
If I were to rate Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition back in 1998, it would receive a score in the high 90s, but time has a way of either preserving or destroying things. Baldur's Gate is a hard game to break down with the ravages of age, but things like graphics and sound are all quite dated, and some of the gameplay elements have now become classic tropes and generic design elements in RPGs of the past 10 or 15 years. Looking past it all though, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is still a stellar game. Also, Dungeons & Dragons fans, keep in mind you're using the D&D second edition rules here, the D20 system not even quite published yet.
The ability to mod Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition and the promise of DLC are a couple new features that are present, though it will be interesting to see if Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition becomes a perennial classic gamers are going to go back to in this dang age with so many newer titles being released. Regardless of DLC or modding, there is plenty of game here, with plenty of hours, and also included is Tales of the Sword Coast, the original expansion. Add in the overall challenge of the game, and Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is going to take you a while to get through. Be prepared to save, save, save and reload, reload, reload. This is old-school gaming at its best.
So what's the overall verdict? Old school gamers, western RPG fanatics, older D&D fans, and Baldur's Gate fans who are aching to play the game again, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is an absolute must. For others, be wary of its age, and if you are prepared for the hardships Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition will present to you in both challenge and being a bit "dusty and old", then you will find a game that is still VERY well crafted even though it's almost 15 years old.
GameDynamo's Score for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition (PC)
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