Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Beamdog
Developer:Overhaul Games
Release Date:2012-11-28
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric
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The rest of the additions are smaller, but noticeable. The best of these is the new journal - anyone who has played the original knows it was simply not very good, and it has been vastly improved, with much better sorting options available that bring it in line with what newer games offer. The ability to zoom the "camera" in and out is also here, although I found no good use for it. To be honest, though, there were a lot of little things that stood out for me as strangely absent. For instance, item stack limits in the inventory have not been increased as far as to what I'd consider convenient, and using gem bags, scroll cases and similar to expand the inventory size is also still unnecessarily cumbersome. There is also, despite popular demand from fans and several available work-arounds, no way to create a full custom party like in Icewind Dale, which to me would have been a feature to really make the Enhanced Edition stand out.

Technical Updates

The other side to the Enhanced Edition is that it has been updated for today's computers. While clearly a lot of effort has gone into modernizing the game, unfortunately, this is also where it most stumbles. The simple fact is that, technically speaking, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is a mess, and the issues it has drastically overshadow the brand new content.

First, there are the major issues. The game crashes, a lot. Playing it over the last couple of days, I had about a dozen crashes, most of them related to switching between areas, but some just in the middle of combat or exploring the environment. Every time I tried to add a marker to the area map, the game would crash to desktop. Many players, according to the commentary on the official forums, have not be able to get the game running at all, while others report issues with sound and music not playing back properly.  Although not quite a headline feature, multiplayer, despite offering "improved" matchmaking features, is also pretty much completely unplayable thanks both to lag as well as crippling bugs.

Second, there are the less game-breaking, but no less frustrating problems. Sometimes characters won't follow your orders and require you to issue them multiple times. There are graphical bugs such as flickering status icons and doors which have apparently have their graphics reversed, so they appear open when closed and vice-versa. Some of the old quests in the game do not progress or complete properly, such as saving Dynaheir from the gnolls' fortress. I frequently saw text errors saying "missing string." Sometimes during the more chaotic battles, the game would periodically hitch up and resume in a way that made things nearly unplayable.

Even then, there are more problems. Some of the rules for certain character class and race combinations are incorrect compared to the original game. Though the inventory screen has been modified to show additional statistics, some of these statistics are reported wrong (though the correct info is used when in battle). The list really does go on and on, and if you have played the original game, which is mostly bug-free and stable on current computers, it's simply appalling how many problems there are in this supposed "new and improved" version of Baldur's Gate.

There are also plenty of niggling issues which aren't really bugs, but speak to what is apparently Overhaul Games' lack of understanding for PC gaming. The graphics options in the game are non-existent, with no way to change resolution, or even brightness and gamma. Environmental audio effects, previously delegated to Creative's EAX, have simply been removed with no replacement to be heard. There have been no key bindings or customizations added. There is no way to scroll the camera diagonally using the arrow keys, and neither can the camera be moved by clicking and dragging with the middle mouse button. The interface, despite its stylistic shift, has received only minor upgrades (the best of which is the journal), and functionality that could have been improved upon remains almost entirely unchanged.