Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is an odd game to review. The original game it “enhances” is considered by many to be a quintessential building block of CRPGs. Games that had players plotting and planning their party’s moves and making sure that the right abilities were used at the right time. Today’s RPGs are a far cry from what Baldur’s Gate II introduced the world to but this enhanced version of the PC classic aims to bring back the days of yesteryear by giving players the old feel of Amn with some new additions thrown in for good measure. The key problem I found with Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is that the enhanced features don’t do a lot to add to the main game. It’s like trying to add yet another side dish to an already amazing holiday dinner.
The enhancements that the title mentions feel like one of two things; either a re-mastering of the original content that makes it fit in the modern era, or a new piece of content that slides into the already huge game world. For instance, backdrops and set pieces still look the same but they’ve been given a slight face lift so that widescreen view and higher resolutions can be enjoyed. It’s also worth noting that this game comes packed with Baldur’s Gate II’s two expansion packs, Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal, which came as an unexpected surprise. Both expansions function as the original title does and both have been re-mastered in the same fashion.
So, what’s all this about new characters? Three new characters have been added to the original game; Rasaad yn Bashir, a half-elf mage Neera and a half-orc Dorn Il-Khan. For fans of the series these names will sound familiar as all three were NPCs in the original title back in 2000. All three are fully playable and have backstories and unique quests that add on to the already tremendous time sync that is Baldur’s Gate II. A fourth character, Hexxat the thief is completely new and adds a mysterious story of completely new content to the game as well. Thankfully, all four characters sound and act appropriately and I think newcomers to the game would have a hard time differentiating who is a new character and who’s a staple.
Unfortunately, these characters bring more than just decent dialogue and new stories to the table. A few of their quests, as well as original quests, featured game-stopping bugs that were just unforgivable. By unforgivable I mean; crashing to desktop, triggers not happening during quests, dialogue mess-ups, and NPC pathing that felt atrocious. I realize the original game was made in 2000 but I didn’t want to play the game as if I was back in that time-period with a PC that crashes to desktop whenever it felt convenient to. These bugs can obviously be fixed but for the time being they’re harsh to put up with.
The game itself runs fine and there isn’t much worth noting that can’t be read in an original review of the game back from 2000. Baldur’s Gate II set the bar for CRPGs in both its incredible depth and ability to let players learn without feeling like there was a 1000 page manual to read before stepping into the world. Its story is still one of the best things going in terms of fantasy stories and its characters are both humorous and loveable, that damn warrior and his mouse make me laugh all the time. That’s the main issue I have with this product, the original game is so fantastic and the enhanced edition doesn’t do enough to make the enhancements worth it to me. It’s the old saying of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and it rings true with Baldur’s Gate II. The original game, and its two expansions, are available on GOG.com for $10 and I find that to be a much better deal in terms of content, value, and playablity. While the enhanced edition isn’t bad, its new features don’t do enough to make it the quintessential version of the game to own, at least not when the original is still so damn good.