RELEASE DATE: November 15th, 2013
DEVELOPER(S): Overhaul Games / Bioware
CO-OP: 2-6 Player Online
BALDUR’S GATE 2 ENHANCED EDITION REVIEW
YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.
Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition, like Overhaul Games’ version of the original Baldur’s Gate, isn’t simply a version of the game that will run on current versions Windows but, as the title suggests, is an overhauled version of the original PC RPG. With full widescreen support and a number of other improvements, both to the back end and the front end, this is a fully modernized version of the classic.
If you aren’t familiar with the old PC series of Bioware D&D games, Baldur’s Gate 2 controls like a mix between an isometric hack-and-slash game, and a real-time strategy game. You will eventually have up to six party members to control at a time, and each can be issued commands separately or the party can be instructed to attack as a whole. Hitting the space bar will pause the game, so you can queue up specific commands for each character, and this is something you should get used to doing since the action can get pretty hectic.
Since this sequel also abides by Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition rules, it may be much harder than the RPG’s you’re used to playing. Monsters don’t scale in difficulty to match player levels and low level characters can easily die in one hit. To help you out, there is a Quick Save button that you should learn to lean on if you’re going to get anywhere. The difficulty level Baldur’s Gate 2 presents is one of the reasons it had such a following back in the day. It takes planning, choosing the right party members, and just a little bit of luck to overcome some of the more difficult encounters, leading to a very satisfying experience.
Even though Baldur’s Gate 2 starts you with some experienced characters, you may die quite a bit, in the beginning. Dying also comes with a price as you’ll have to grab all of the fallen character’s gear, then head to a priest to have them resurrected. I told you this game wasn’t easy so, again, make sure you take advantage of the quick save button.
Visually, Overhaul Games have once again done a great job bringing a classic PC game into the widescreen world. The original pre-rendered backgrounds look great, considering their age, and the cut scenes look decent as well. As far as performance goes, the load times and overall speed of the game have been greatly improved, which is a good thing since there can be a lot of loading screens.
Some new content has been added to Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition in the form of a handful of new characters, with their own new side quests, as well as the return of the Black Pits. This arena battle mode is purely for those who enjoy the combat side of things, and those who are here for the story experience won’t find many reasons to spend time here. As a bonus, you’ll also get an overhauled version of the Throne of Bhaal expansion pack.
Finally, any issues that the original Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition had with Intel Graphics chips have been resolved in Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition (as well as being patched in the original) so if this had been a concern for you, fear not.
Both the standard game, and The Black Pits can be played online with up to six people. You will have to create a separate save file for online play, but you can start a game by yourself so you aren’t left waiting on your friends.
Overhaul Games have smoothed out their process from their initial effort and have delivered a solid effort with Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition. All of the elements that made the game great the first time around remain intact, with a few modern conveniences added. A must have for fans of the original and for newcomers who want to know how games used to be played.
Release Date: November 15th, 2013
Available On: PC via Beamdog or Steam