PC Games

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition – What We Know

The site is getting hammered, but here’s what’s been gleaned from various sources (most notably Trent Oster’s Twitter account) about the now-official Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (BGEE):

  • Both BG1 and BG2 will be getting the ‘Enhanced’ treatment – though what that is exactly hasn’t been laid out.  Improved graphics, bug fixes, and Trent says it will be staying 2D isometric.
  • The official expansions are included.
  • There will be new content also.
  • Much like playing Baldur’s Gate 1 via Tutu, all of the games will be using the latest Infinity Engine as a base (so all of the added classes/kits from BG2 will be available from the start).
  • They want to support mods, but note that the original code wasn’t really designed for it the way Neverwinter Nights or newer games were.
  • Oddly, this is NOT the game that is coming to Steam, so apparently a release there of the original game is still happening.
  • ‘Summer 2012’ is the date of release so far, subject to change, I’m sure.

That’s what we know so far.  I’ll add more as it becomes known.

edit:  In response to a question about multiplayer improvements, Trent replied “We’re going to fix the broken bits”.

DnD Featured PC Games

Poll – Best D&D Computer Game?

Best D&D PC Game Ever?

  • Planescape: Torment (36%, 8 Votes)
  • Baldur's Gate 2 (18%, 4 Votes)
  • Baldur's Gate (14%, 3 Votes)
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 (9%, 2 Votes)
  • Gold Box (Pool of Radiance) (9%, 2 Votes)
  • Neverwinter Nights (5%, 1 Votes)
  • The Temple of Elemental Evil (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Icewind Dale I/II (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Just what it says.  Where applicable, include all official add-ons and expansions.  I lumped Icewind Dale 1 and 2 together, also.  If you have another pick, comment on what it is.

Console Games PC Games

On Sequels

Reading some of the reviews and discussions out there on Dragon Age 2 got me to thinking – Did Bioware do a disservice to themselves by declaring this game a sequel?  They call it a sequel on the game’s official site, and they put a ‘2’ after it, but it may have damaged the perception of the game a bit to do so.  Even the CNN review says it “isn’t exactly a sequel” and I agree with them.  A sequel, to use the wiki definition as an example, is:

a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, or music that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work. In the common context of a narrative work of fiction, a sequel portrays events set in the same fictional universe as a previous work, usually chronologically following the events of that work.

Let’s examine DA2 in this context.  It *is* in the same fictional universe, though DA2 starts during DA:O, not after.  You’ve got a bit of character overlap but not much, but the most important character from Origins is not directly present, the Warden.  The new game is set in the same world, but all new locations.  The DA2 story has some elements you came up against in the first game, which I won’t spoil, but still, to me, doesn’t seem like all this adds up to clearcut sequel status.  It became clearest to me when someone mentioned Baldur’s Gate:  Dark Alliance, a game my wife and I very much enjoyed, but played quite a bit different from other BG games.  DA2 doesn’t stray THAT far away, but it did move.

That isn’t a bad thing, though.  The problem is not with the game, but how it was sold to the consumer.  When I hear ‘sequel’, I’m thinking of games like Diablo 2, Warcraft 2 and the like.  Games that are bigger/better/MORE of what came before.  Yes, there are new features, graphical upgrades, but you see the progression.  You don’t see that so much with DA2.  There’s enough things that are different (some would say downgraded) and enough gameplay has changed that it really feels more like a spinoff than a true sequel.  Instead of slapping a ‘2’ after the name and calling it a day, Bioware should’ve titled it something like “Dragon Age:  The Champion of Kirkwall” while simultaneously announcing development of a true sequel 2-3 years down the road, closer to the Elder Scrolls dev cycle.  Those playing the Kirkwall game wouldn’t necessarily be expecting ‘more of the same’ as DA:O, and a real high fantasy epic world-spanning adventure ‘true sequel’ would still be very welcome.  Everyone is happy, and we can be done with the whiners complaining about not having all the origin stories in the game NOT named Origins.

Featured PC Games

Old Game Tuesday – Baldur’s Gate

When I was younger, there was a certain class of gamer nerd that even I didn’t ‘get’.  They did their gaming with large sheets of paper and miniatures and a whole mess of dice.  The closest I’d ever gotten to that was a few books that had you roll dice to determine the outcome of battles (Choose Your Own Adventure style).  I mostly ignored this phenomenon, though, as you played mostly by talking, which my younger self didn’t exactly excel at in front of others.

Eventually, I became friends with some of those guys, and a couple even rented the apartment in our duplex.  I never did join them in their strange ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ games, but as they were avid PC gamers also, I encountered DnD via other means:  Baldur’s Gate.  If you’ve read these columns before you know I love RPGs, though most of my playing had been done on console to that point.  Since the game was so highly recommended, I gave it a try.

It wasn’t easy to wade into, no doubt, as your character customization had a dizzying array of options, from different races, classes, weapon skills, and the like.  You were joined along the way by up to 5 companions at a time (though more were available).  The DnD rules (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition back then) were adapted to run real-time, but you could pause to think and plan, and that sure was a good idea early on.

So why Baldur’s Gate?  The immersion factor, for me, was great.  As you start out in the typical idyllic home life, getting taught the interface and talking to NPCs, you can also (if you are careful and listen) get some backstory from monks chanting throughout Candlekeep (the library/castle you start in).  I thought it was unique in that not every bit of story was just something you had to read in a text box (or get from talking to all these people directly, don’t they have anything better to do?).  It was easy to miss, but it added so much.

You really had a sense that, despite being a person of destiny, you were also just a kid who could easily get exploded into a shower of gibs if you weren’t careful.  You had to plan your actions, and you could pause the game at any time to do so.  It’s a game mechanic that has served Bioware well, all the way through their current ‘spiritual successor’ to the BG series, Dragon Age.  It introduces actual strategy into what you do, makes you think about where you should position your wizards and archers, who to pound first with your fighter, and so on.  You find yourself judging the likelihood of an ambush, watching your hitpoints carefully, and generally acting more like real adventurers than engines of destruction.  You DO get to the engine point at higher levels (mostly in BG2) but there is still a ton of challenge to be had.

I’ve gone on for 500 words here, but really, this is one of those ‘roots’ games.  If you want to know where modern computer and console RPG gaming came from, you need to start here.  DO IT.  Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!