Type of app: Role Playing Game (RPG)
Platform/where to buy: iPad; available in the App Store , PC version available through BeamDog
Developer: Overhaul Games / BeamDog
* 80 hours of Epic RPG adventure
* Over 40 classes and kits
* Over 100 spells
* over 150 magical items
* New adventure: The Black Pits, a thrilling combat adventure
* New character: Rasaad yn Bashir, a Calishite Monk searching for answers.
* Available for purchase: New character: Dorn Il-Khan, a half-orc blackguard with a history of violence.
* Available for purchase: New character: Neera the Wild Mage, a half-elf on a quest to control her powerful magic.
Major features: When you have a game released 15 years ago that has been hailed as the rebirth of the modern cRPG and one of the greatest games ever created … exactly what MORE can you do with it? Well, in the case of BeamDog and Overhaul games, the answer is simply to fix bugs, make sure it runs and looks great on newer systems, and add a few optional characters and an optional area to explore. And, you add a touch interface and bring it to the iPad. I have been playing the game on both iPad and PC for more than a month, let’s take a look!
Baldur’s Gate on PC
Unavailable as a digital download for a long time, Good Old Games was the first to bring Baldur’s Gate to the PC again in digital form. The CD version worked great, but it still had enough bugs that you likely needed some unofficial mods and patches to have it work correctly on modern systems. With the GoG version (and later the Steam release) those were mostly addressed. But it was still not a wide-screen game and still ran in 800×600 mode. But again, those were easily patched if you cared to do so.
What the Enhanced Edition brings is full wide-screen support, high-resolution display, an enhanced user interface, a number of bug fixes and the implementation of numerous classes and character kits from later games such as Baldur’s Gate 2. Much was made of the ‘enhanced’ part, and Beamdog did tease new characters and a new area, but honestly they are just sidelines to the main game. The combat area is too limited to be considered a significant new addition.
As for the main game, the old adage ‘if it isn’t broken … ‘ applies here. The majority of the game works exactly as you remember, and even some of the glitches and pathfinding hang-ups remain. In fact, there were still enough buggy bits that we have seen five (5) patches since the initial release. One thing that is broken is the ability to use external tools to edit save games such as GateKeeper – which is a minor annoyance but not critical and comes from expanding the D&D codebase.
Overall the game remains a classic and is definitely something every RPG gamer should own. If you already own it on CD or from GoG, there is little reason to re-purchase.
Baldur’s Gate on iPad
For me the HUGE news was Baldur’s Gate on iPad. I have been very enthusiastic about Jeff Vogel bringing Spiderweb Games such as Avadon, Avernum: Escape from the Pit and Avernum 6HD to the iPad over the last couple of years, so I was thrilled to have another great RPG to play.
In terms of the good, the game is nearly flawless in execution, without a single crash on my iPad Mini. You get the full experience as on the PC, a game that will take you 80-100 hours to complete and has some of the best writing and characters (Minsc and Boo!) in all of gaming, and a touch interface that works extremely well. Another awesome thing is that you can import and export saved games through iTunes, allowing you to ‘grab and go’ your game on the iPad and then continue later on the PC.
As for the bad? While the touch interface works well, there are some quirky ways to do things that are never really explained, such as holding down on items for a few seconds before releasing to get info … and the fact that the same process on a spell results on using the spell. Also, the control of battle felt more frantic to me at times than on the PC. Finally, you lose the ability to use any CLUA (command line in-game interface) commands or mods. But those are greatly outweighed by … Baldur’s Gate on iPad!
One final note on the iPad version is that you get the core game for $9.99, but to add all of the extra content and bring parity to the PC version will require in-app purchases which result in the overall game costing the same on iPad as PC.
Ease of use/Overall performance: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition retains everything that made the original great, and adds some cool new stuff to the mix. The most important aspects of the entire release are (1) updating the code base so they can work on Baldur’s Gate 2, and (2) bringing the game to the iPad. So if you have the Good Old Games version, don’t stress too much over this one. But if you are an RPG fan with an iPad? Buy it, buy it, BUY IT!
Would use again/recommend?: Absolutely! I have played the classic Baldur’s Gate several times over the last decade or so, and will continue to do so. I will now use the Enhanced Edition as my sole source as it addresses any issues I had with earlier versions, adds new functionality and … well, iPad.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing.
Price: $9.99 for iPad (plus extra in-app purchases), $19.99 for PC
Here is the trailer: