Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition full review

We’ve been waiting for this one for months. This ‘enhanced’ version of the classic Baldur’s Gate was actually released on the iPad just before Christmas, but the Mac version took a little longer to finish.

Baldur’s Gate – for those of you too young to remember – was the landmark game that consumed role-playing fans for months at a time when it was first released back in the late ‘90s, and it set the standard for every role-playing game that has followed since. Its pixellated 2D graphics do, admittedly, look rather crude when compared to the 3D splendour of modern RPGs such as Dragon Age and Skyrim, but those games wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Baldur’s Gate.

The graphics may be dated, and the game’s interface isn’t exactly streamlined, but the complex storyline and eccentric cast of supporting characters are still very enjoyable and can provide many hours of enjoyable monster-bashing.

You start off by creating your character, choosing from races such as human, elf and half-orc, and training as a warrior, wizard, rogue or priest. Then it’s time to head off to the city of Baldur’s Gate to track down the mercenaries who attacked your home town – and also to confront a powerful and mysterious figure from your past.

The game is huge, covering dozens of locations around the area known as the Sword Coast, and it often seems like there are people just queuing up in the local tavern to offer you additional quests and rewards in return for your help. You can also recruit additional characters to join you in your adventuring party, and these characters often come with storylines and quests of their own that add to the fun and help to create a greater sense of involvement in the game.

You can allow the computer to control these characters during combat, but the games artificial intelligence is pretty basic, so it’s often best to take direct control of your whole party. You can do this simply by hitting the Space bar, which pauses the action so that you can issue orders to each character (where do you think Dragon Age and all the rest got that idea from in the first place?).

This works well, especially at higher levels when some of the big battles can be really challenging. However, this stop-start approach to combat does mean that Baldur’s Gate requires a fair amount of patience. But what it lacks in pace it more than makes up for in the depth of its storytelling and the challenge as you learn how to get your party fighting together as a team.

The Mac version actually costs about twice as much as its iPad counterpart, but that’s because it includes some additional characters that you can recruit for your party who were only available as additional in-app purchases on the iPad.

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