Game Picks: Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition

March 12, 2013

from The Raleigh News & Observer

It’s generally agreed that, in the PC era of the 1990s, the role-playing game genre peaked with the release of BioWare’s “Baldur’s Gate” in 1998. After 20 years of trying to port the tabletop D&D experience to computer games, “Baldur’s Gate” finally got it right. The game spawned multiple expansion sets, sequels and the next-generation series “Neverwinter Nights.”

Grandma, Grandpa, you remember all this?

The classic RPG has been resurrected yet again, for the touchscreen era, with “Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition” (iPad; $9.99; rated 12+). Essentially a port of the original adventure game – with some additional tweaks, fixes and bonus adventures – the new “Baldur’s Gate” is an enjoyable stroll down the cobblestones of memory lane.

Among the enhancements is a new tutorial mode that’s helpful for returning players, and essential for new ones. “Baldur’s Gate” was the last video game based on the old AD&D 2.0 rule set, an infamously weird and complicated system. Mastering it was (and is) a point of pride for a certain subset of dedicated RPG gamers.

Dig into “Baldur’s Gate” and you’ll find the conceptual DNA of today’s state-of-the-art RPGs, such as the “Elder Scroll” or “Dragon Age” series. It begins with the delights of character creation. You start by choosing standard building blocks like race (elf, dwarf, etc.) class (fighter, mage, etc.) and weapon specializations (crossbow, katana).

Attributes like strength and dexterity are determined the old fashioned way – by rolling three six-sided dice and totaling the numbers. You can adjust or re-roll, just like in the old days. (If you’re not into the excruciating minutia of character creation, you can choose from pre-made characters and kits.)

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