Game Reviews

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

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Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

There are going to be two schools of thought when it comes to Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition on the iPad.

Some will let their rose-tinted glasses blur over the glaring cracks, focusing instead on the simple fact that this is a portable version of a role-playing classic.

Others will complain that for all of its nostalgic appeal the game just isn't up to scratch. As great a game as the original Baldur's Gate was, that's no excuse for a port that simply doesn't work on the device it's been designed for.

Dungeons and dragons

If you've never played the game before, it tells the tale of a young adventurer, destined for greatness, who sets out on a quest in a fantasy world to find out who killed their protector and why.

In many ways it's the game that opened up the possibilities of the RPG to a wider audience, its blend of Dungeons & Dragons, isometric graphics, and a deep and involving story ensnaring the minds of many.

Everything that made the original great is still here, but it feels a little outdated now. And worse, the transition from a mouse cursor to a touchscreen has been handled with all the subtlety of a war hammer to the chest.

In a game where you're going to be clicking on plenty of enemies, chests, and other items of interest, you need to be sure that each tap is going to register correctly, and that's just not the case here.


Everything you do in the game is governed by the end of your digits. The screen is surrounded at all times by a complex and flexible mix of buttons and menus.

These let you fire out spells, attack monsters, talk to citizens of the huge game world, and generally interact with the fantasy setting you've been dropped into.

Even now that setting is impressive, and while the limitations of the game engine are a little more obvious on Retina displays, there's a charm to the visuals that masses of polygons can't recreate.

Battles are fast and frantic, and without the handy 'pause' button they'd be anticlimactically brief. Tap 'pause' and you have the time to marshal your troops, sending them to get better shots, or using their special powers to club the beasts and brigands you face off against.

The Dungeons & Dragons rules that power everything offer most of the flexibility of a tabletop role-playing experience, but aren't too daunting for anyone who is physically revolted by the concept of dice-rolling, character sheets, and talking to people in a funny voice.

You'll find Wizards of the Coast's touch too in the character types you can choose from at the start, and in the adventurers you recruit to aid you in your quest. From thieves to paladins, bards to barbarians, each fantasy archetype is as familiar and exciting as it was the first time around.

Not my fantasy

But this isn't the first time around, and while the core of the gameplay is still solid, your interactions feel cumbersome and unwieldy. This is very much a 14-year-old game crammed onto a piece of hardware that it simply hasn't been designed for.

Your taps don't always register, leaving you hammering the screen just to try and get your party to move to the right place. It's bad enough when you're stuck outside a building, but it's unforgivable when you're trying to fight off a Kobold attack and your heroes are milling around because you can't select a target in the scrum.

As a piece of nostalgia, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is all well and good, but as a piece of entertainment it's too frustrating, too sloppily put together, and too heavily shackled to old hardware to really recommend.

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

If you're not a fan of the original, you'd be best to give this muddled revamp a miss
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.