Considering 16 Bit Days is a look back at some of the more memorable games from the past, without getting all mushy and whatnot, this one was evetually coming down the line. See, so far most articles have featured games that can easily be picked up and played today. Games such as Chrono Trigger, Ogre Battle, and Commandos. Well they are all fun games, but not every awesome game at the time can still be played today, and this is probably the best example.
That also could be the most untrue thing ever typed because of the recently launched baldursgate.com and when you click it you get the following …
What could this mean? An updating of the original game? A new game set in the BG world? Enhanced Edition seems to me to saw updated version. Either way I’m actually excited for more news on the Enhanced Edition. I always saw Dragon Age: Origins to be a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, so maybe this new enhanced edition will be the not-so-spiritual-but-actual-successor to the original.
After waiting a few days, an announcement was made that the game is being Updated, with artists, programmers and designers beging brought in to ‘enhance’ the game. I imagine that does mean a new fresh coat of updated paint over the BG2 engine so that it’s playable today.
So I take this time to look back at the old late 90′s Baldur’s Gate game. Which, as good as it was, is not playable today.
Baldur’s Gate and it’s expansions, and the sequel AND it’s expansion make up one of the most epic RPGs experiences ever made. One of the few games in my lifetime that would get a perfect 10. Yet, around 6 months back I installed it and attempted to replay it, but after a couple hours I relaized that I couldnt go on. The interface is clunky and the controls very slow to respond. I found myself just rushing from place to place. I kind of remember the story so I rushed through the dialogue which is clunky to get through as well. I wasn’t playing it properly. I died, a lot. After awhile I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the game. I had played it once and finished it and that was good enough for me. So I happily uninstalled it and instead of being annoyed or frustrated I recalled just how awesome and epic it had once been.
This was one of the most epic role playing games ever made. And I’ve said this before, this 16 Bit Series wasn’t necessarily a look at older games that can still be enjoyed today, and this one of those perfect examples.
Back in 1998 when I was back to school, when the Internets wasn’t the overcrowded goofy place it is today, I had come across screen shots of an upcoming RPG called Baldurs Gate. It was an official AD&D licensed game.
Then game dropped, I picked it up and was blown away by the amazing graphics & game play. Unlike RPGs of the past, this was entirely new to me and I was in RP heaven. There was so much depth and the official AD&D ruleset made it comfortable to me. The familair settings, classes, monsters, all of that makes it easier to get into any game.
You start you right off at level 1, a total newb. You explore your starting town area, but it’s not long before your pushed out of the nest and into a massive world that you can explore and find adventure. You not only play through the main campaign, but took on side quests that didn’t seem like a way to grind up levels.
Oh and have to mention the extras that came in the good old fashion box. The massive players guide, the cloth map, well, ok, thats all I recall but it was cool at the time. I still have the map on my desk today. That’s part of the gaming experience I miss today. I still pick up games at the store when I don’t get them off Steam, but with the massive amount of information out on every game today, it’s both a blessing and a curse. There isn’t much not known about a game, especially a big name game. Back then there wasn’t nearly as much annoying fanboy type behavior.
Getting back on topic.
The combat was real time, with the ability to pause the game to give orders to your party members. THIS is, for me, what makes a RPG. The action RPGs such as The Witcher or Fable are good in their own way and it has it’s own place. That action type game play is fine for single player RPGs, where all you have to worry about is your own guy. Yet, in a party based RPG, this option of pausing to give orders is more enjoyable to me. I grew up on pen & paper D&D and this style of Quasi-Real time, turn-based combat defines the genre.
The battles for the most part were not overly complicated, you’d pause, set up the initial moves and then let them play the battle out, pausing again to change tactics when needed. All this was done using the familiar AD&D combat rules & magic. You battled familiar monsters, and even met some famous AD&D characters.
Your character grew, the companions you met and joined you had real depth to them. The overall experience was great. The original expansion gave you more time to just adventure as the story started small and ended up becoming this epic tale, but it was the small character interaction moments that really make this game shine. One thing that was very memorable was the missions, whether main storyline or side quests had a natural feel without too much hand holding. If you were given a mission you were given the location. You had to check your maps, and find them and you weren’t given a way point to home onto.
I hope the enhanced version sticks to updating the visuals and interface and stays away from fixing game play since there wasn’t anything wrong with it. I look forward to now tracking this new version much like I did the original, time will tell if them complete it up.