Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Twitter Commentary, Part 2
By Dwip January 12, 2013, 3:13 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

This is part 2 of my expanded Twitter commentary on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. You can find the master list of all parts here.

If you’re just tuning in, there are spoilers below the fold. Go play the game, then come back here.

It’s sort of an iconic line and all. And while apparently a lot of people really hate Imoen, she’s one of my favorite characters in the entire series, granted that it’s mostly for BG2.

Also, I do these so people know which characters are joining my party. Imoen is the first, and almost always is unless I’m going to solo.

I don’t really want to keep hammering on this “late 2D is way better than early 3D” thing, but whereas BG1 looked very, very 1998, BG2 (on which engine BG:EE is based) did amazing, amazing things to the graphics quality, and it’s hard to really talk about how utterly disappointing NWN1 really was. I don’t think 3D truly approached what BG2 had until 2006 or so, and I imagine if they had been able to get the source art for BG1, BG:EE would be competing pretty heavily.

At this point, if you’re wondering if I liked NWN1 or not, I’m not doing my job properly.

It’s kind of like this in any RPG, but 2nd edition AD&D is notoriously lethal for low level characters, and even if you don’t have awesome gear, simply leveling to the point that you pick up some hit points does wonders for your survivability. And when your other monsters are 7-35 xp gibberlings and bandits, 175 xp is amazing.

Thus, the endangered species status of the Sword Coast black bear.

I don’t really want to get into this too much because I’m going to talk about it later, but at some point Bioware’s stories appear to have become completely untethered from their worldbuilding immsersiveness and the technical abilities of their engine design. I don’t remember if NWN1 had day/night or not, but it’s a pretty long stretch from either BG2 or NWN1 to Dragon Age 2, which sort of half-asses day/night if you’re in Kirkwall some of the time maybe.

Also on this list, people actually calling guards when you take stuff from their house, NPCs that can be killed, weather effects, an explorable environment that isn’t totally on rails, little hidden things, and basically if it sounds like I’m describing Skyrim, that’s probably because Bethesda is now better at making a game like Baldur’s Gate than Bioware is in a lot of ways.

Considering that I hear Bethesda had to buy a whole bunch of warehouses to stuff all their Skyrim cash into, and Bioware made the Old Republic, there may be a lesson in there.

Because you know what’s fun? Taking potshots at Neverwinter Nights 2 after dissing it several times in your blog for not understanding how to ratchet up tension in wilderness and dungeon areas.

Seriously, this is basic stuff – if you rest in a dungeon environment, don’t expect a free ride. Somehow we seem to have lost that. Random encounters in BG kind of freak me out because they’re dangerous and I’m often unprepared, and that’s precisely as it should be in an environment filled with monsters.

It’s actually one of the fastest games in my collection. I don’t know what Mass Effect 3 is doing on startup, but if I join a multiplayer game from desktop, the delay is such that I can take a bathroom break and get something to drink while reading a couple blogs in the interval. Several minutes, anyway.

Lest I seem to be overly picking on Bioware here, let’s talk about all those mid-decade EA titles with unskippable logo movies, or the several geologic ages Civilization 5 Gods and Kings takes to get going.

That said, Bioware apparently just sucks at networking code. Nobody needs to check DLC that many times.

One of the more interesting things about BG1 especially is that the number of NPCs basically approaches infinity. During this game I’m going to take a bunch of NPCs I’ve never had before, and by my count I have another 11 besides, which is enough for like 3 more games.

In fact, that’s almost too many, and I think BG2 wisely cut this number way down in order to give each companion far more character. That said, 28 here and 17 in BG2 is probably more characters than all other Bioware games combined since then.

Thanks, full voice acting!

They seem to have done some tinkering with monster spawns in the early maps of BG:EE. I distinctly remember getting leaped by 6-8 gibberlings at a time at level 1 back in the day, and no bandits at all until Peldvale. This way is probably better.

We’re still about 4 years away from Morrowind and truly spectacular water in games (and whatever else its sins, 3D water is really nice), but BG1 does a really nice job of sprinkling streams and fountains and rivers and things around, and making use of what limited water it does have.

I don’t really want to keep dwelling on the whole “IMMERSION, MOTHERFUCKERS, DO YOU SPEAK IT!?” thing, but yeah. We’ve lost a lot over the years.

Also the lightning thing is amusing, and straight out of existing rules.

You know that ogre I’m talking about. The one with the two girdles, who you meet pretty much first thing and is apocalyptically hard at level 1. I think he’s meant as a warning that the World Is Larger Than You Are, but I usually took it as a challenge. This time was particularly challenging when the lightning storm almost obliterate Imoen, then fortuitously obliterated the ogre about the time he was about to crush me, crush me to goo. I was in frantic fear that I was about to get killed by the weather.

The one sort of follows from the other here, I think. And me with no cleric.


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