This D&D classic series in which the original dates back to 1998 has had a wonderful makeover. Developed by Beamdog and published by Skybound games they have resurrected these classic games and made them possible for the console market to enjoy. Having played the originals on PC back in the day using the multiple CD’s, I was pleased to see these games remade as they have a lot to offer to both new and old RPG fans.
The game plays from an isometric viewpoint of the area, and the graphics still look as good as they did 20 years ago. But they have been given a sprucing up to make sure they now suit our modern widescreen HDTV’s. They have connected the gameplay to the controller nicely, as instead of having to click on a location to make your character or party move to the location (which you can still do if you prefer), you can now just move your character with the analogue stick which is so much faster and better in my opinion. The music in the game takes me back to the original where you will hear the background medieval tunes typical of the setting like the tavern music when you step into an inn. But with that also comes the fact it was limited in length and prone to looping so don’t linger anywhere too long as it does get annoying after a while.
The storylines for those unfamiliar with this 20-year-old classic are as follows. In the original Baldurs Gate, you are in the midst of an Iron shortage, where much of the current iron is just rotting. You are forced to leave your home as your father figure Gorion asks you to get ready, as he fears for your safety. It seems his concern was justified, as no sooner than leaving, you are confronted by a group of enemies who were looking for you. Gorion is slain by the armoured figure of the group, but manages to buy you enough time to make your escape. It’s up to you to solve the rotting Iron mystery and find the culprits behind it, which will unfold into a bigger story where the truth is revealed about who you – and the armoured figure after you – are.
In Baldurs Gate 2 you and some familiar faces from the previous game are held captive by the evil mage Jon Irenicus, who is performing experiments on you and your friends. You manage to escape and track down Irenicus, and end up battling him. During this fight, both Irenicus and Imoen use magic, which leads to them being taken away, punished for improper use of magic according to the law of the land. After a while, Irenicus escapes and resumes experimenting – and tormenting – Imoen. It’s up to you to raise funds through your adventures to free her and bring down Irenicus once and for all.
Along with the two main games this game package includes many of the expansion packs as well as additions like new quests, voice acting and character portraits for further customisation. That means there is a whole lot of content in offer in this game package to make it a good value for money.
Being based on D&D fundamentals there is a lot of customisation around your characters much of which I don’t fully understand. You can pick from many different classes, subclasses or even mixed classes. There are also many races to choose from and then you can select your alignment. You can go from being a male halfling fighter with a chaotic neutral alignment to being a bit of a free spirit. Or a female elf mage who is lawful evil, meaning they may act a bit tyrannical. You can also choose which portrait and look your character has before playing with the base stats which affect certain parts of your gameplay. The fighters play on strength and constitution to dish out and reduce the damage received. The rogues and thieves rely on dexterity to be stealthy and attack critically from the shadows or do a bit of pickpocketing and lockpicking. Or the Magic caster, who rely on the intelligence stat to cast spells with growing intensity. It is very easy to lose a lot of time just setting up your character and party of 6 slots, which I know is vital in the D&D world. But maybe not as important in this game, as you meet many others who wish to join your party on the way, leaving you with decisions on who to take with you.
This game focuses a lot of attention on the story line in true D&D style and it shows. There is a lot of people to speak to, a lot of books to read and many other side quests to develop the story and understand the lore of the game. That is not to say they have forgotten about the combat as there is a familiar layout of arranging your party to complete certain commands while the game is paused and then unpause the game, so your team carries out those commands. Combat can become very tactical, so you will want to try different strategies and not just rush in. Obviously, the different character classes offer different skills and there is a variety of loot to sell and upgrade your team’s equipment. But the combat can be as simple or as difficult as you like with the many difficulty levels on offer you can either make the game extremely tough so when your character dies they die forever, or you can play it on story mode, meaning your characters are invulnerable, allowing you to just play through the story. There are many difficulty levels in between which you can set to match your challenge level and that will steer how much effort you will need to put in to combat.
I am glad these games are back, as there is a lot of joy to be had in these D&D based RPG’s which both newer and old RPG fans can enjoy. The controls designed for the Xbox controller make the game much quicker to steer and feel more fluid. The game flows a lot quicker than it did in the past too, without all the restrictive loading times associated with CD’s. If you are a big fan of in-depth story lines and interesting plot twists in your RPG’s, then this collection will be something you’ll love.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.