For the second time in as many months the Ghost of Games Past has visited my PC to remind me of classic games... and how much better they are now.
The Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate doesn't enhance much of anything
This time, the ghostly visitor in the night is Baldur’s Gate, the game that put BioWare on the map and brought the classic D&D experience from the Gold Box age into a whole new epoch of awesome. Unfortunately, the new Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition couldn’t repeat the magic that turned X-Com (one of the best PC games ever, and now almost wholly unplayable for anyone but nostalgia-sadists) into the brilliant XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
In fairness to the makers of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, they didn’t have the deep pockets and vast resources of 2K/ Firaxis. Beamdog/Overhaul just doesn’t bring that much stick to the table. Rather than getting a reinvented Baldur’s Gate, or even a heavily upgraded one, we get something significantly less impressive.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great example of what a remake should look like
I say that with the understanding that “significantly less impressive” is relative. Baldur’s Gate is still one of the best RPGs ever. It’s also still on my shelf, and available online for about $10. Nothing in the Enhanced Edition diminishes the original game, but it doesn’t enhance it that much, either.
This is Baldur’s Gate with Baldur’s Gate II improvements, a graphics bump, a better journal, and a tedious arena mode. They say they fixed or added 400 things to this version, but pathfinding is not among them. Also, it’s buggy and crashy as all hell. You can save your money, load up the original game, install the Tutu mod and a few others, and get a fine BG experience.
The bigger problem is that Baldur’s Gate is an old-school game that just hasn’t aged all that well, and remains little more than a nostalgia act. The fussy combat and bland narrative is something for a younger, more tolerant era of computer gaming. The most bizarre part is that you can trace a straight line from the concepts of BG right through all of BioWare’s products. Dragon Age and Mass Effect are Baldur’s Gate, done better. Why would we want it done worse?