For gamers of a certain age, Baldur’s Gate was a watershed moment. Before then many had tried and, for the most part, failed to bring Dungeons & Dragons to the videogame world. Then along came Bioware in 1998 and it all just seemed to come together. With an amazingly complex story, a monumental amount of content, and a system that managed to bring D&D rules seamlessly to the gaming world, Baldur’s Gate was a triumph. It’s a testament to the legacy of the game and its characters that the phrase ‘space hamster’ means as much today as they did 14 years ago.
Fast forward to 2012, and we now have Overhaul Games’ revamped port of Baldur’s Gate for the iPad. With higher resolution graphics, over 400 tweaks and bug fixes, the “Tales of the Sword Coast” expansion, additional characters and content, Baldur’s Gate has come roaring to the 21st century for fans of the original and newbies alike to enjoy.
Kick back with a pint of ale.
So was Overhaul Games successful? Did they manage to bring a classic PC game to the much smaller iPad? In a word, yes. The graphics are gorgeous, with spell-effects looking especially lovely (although the characters look pixelated when you zoom in). The world of Baldur’s Gate is lush and beautiful. The new characters are also woven into the existing storyline fairly seamlessly. And the stand-alone campaign, The Black Pits, is a fun diversion that has you fighting in increasingly difficult gladiatorial battles for the entertainment of a twisted and vile creature.
Baldur’s Gate is almost infamous for it’s burdensome menu and inventory screens, but with the Enhanced Edition it’s a bit more streamlined and easier to navigate. The quest logs are cleaner, no longer requiring you to scroll through pages and pages of text. One thing we really love is the ability to zoom in and out of the screen. This is immensely helpful in finding small objects, targeting, or getting a better overall picture of your surroundings. They’ve added lots of little tweaks here and there that make it almost seem like Baldur’s Gate was originally designed for the iPad to begin with. Overhaul also streamlined the character creation process, and it’s a lot of fun going through the massive number of character kits, trying to find the one you’re going to be using for your 80+ hour quest. Overhaul did a phenomenal job of making Baldur’s Gate seem right at home on our little tablets.
The Olympic rings have broken apart.
But the game doesn’t come without it’s faults. While Overhaul Games may have squashed 400 bugs, they managed to create some new ones as well. Probably the one people are going to notice the most is the targeting. Trying to target enemies is haphazard at best. We sometimes found our characters wandering off in the direction of the enemy but not attacking, or occasionally not doing anything at all. When battles get especially hectic, this can be dangerous, as we simply don’t have time to babysit every character to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Also, entering buildings or using stairs can be problematic, and the problem is worse when you’re trying to corral six party members to the right place.
We also experienced some crashes when loading saved games or entering and exiting locations. Sometimes bizarre graphical glitches would occur, like a part of the screen being blacked out, and noticeable slowdown happened while seriously intense spells are going on. None of these are deal-breakers, but we would love to see these things, especially the targeting, addressed in an update.
Overhaul games took upon themselves the unenviable and mammoth task of bringing one of the most cherished and revered games of the past 20 years into modern times. And we should all be glad they did. If you had never told us that Baldur’s Gate was originally a 14 year old PC game, we would never have thought it wasn’t specifically designed for the iPad. The story, characters, quests and gameplay almost seem timeless and are just as engaging and absorbing now as they were back then. Overhaul has done a masterful job of updating the game.