The Classic DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Games on Console Are a Little Bit of a Mixed Bag
Last week, Skybound Games and Beamdog released Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, and Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on consoles. I’ve been playing the games and I have plenty of thoughts on the matter. First, a few things of note. I played the game on the Nintendo Switch and it was my first time playing any of these games. This means that I will be looking at the games as a whole. This includes how well the games work on a console platform and I will briefly talk about graphics, although I’m sure most of that was covered when the PC versions released in 2012.
So, let’s get the graphics schtick out of the way. If you’re looking for a game that looks like a smoother version of an old 1990s PC game, you’re in luck. If you’re wanting a game with more modern graphics, this is not the game for you. The graphics look ok, but don’t zoom in too much or things get really jagged. The problem I had with the visuals wasn’t that they looked dated, but rather that I always felt like I was always zooming in and out. I struggled to find one level of zoom that would be good for the majority of the game.
Second, let’s talk about how the games felt on console. This was a mixed bag. There are two kinds of movement modes. One where you move your characters with the analog stick and one that’s more tactical where it’s more akin to clicking with a mouse. You’ll definitely want to experiment for yourself, but I found switching between the modes very useful, albeit cumbersome. The first mode is great for walking around town. The second mode is better for combat, targeting people to talk to, or interacting with objects. Another problem I had with the feel of the game is that it is not clear at all how you switch characters. On the PC, I would assume you simply click on the character’s portrait. You can’t do that on console and they never explain how to do it. One of the first things in Baldur’s Gate is to switch characters to cast a spell. It took me way too long to figure out you use the L and R shoulder buttons to switch between my characters.
Now that we got those very big subjects out of the way, let’s talk about more of the core aspects of the game. The story is actually very engaging, if you don’t mind reading a lot. I mean a lot. There’s a lot of text involved in this game. Another great thing is that you can create your very own character and then use that character in both games. The first game is designed to have you reach level 10 and then the second takes you to level 20. I love it when games work together like that. Once you get into the game and past the prologue, the game really picks up and becomes a blast. It feels like a predecessor to a lot of other games I love.
Even though I’m having fun with these games, there are some things that players should be aware of. First, Baldur’s Gate was originally released in 1998. During this time, it was popular for there to be little if any kind of tutorial as everything you’d need would be in the manual. The console version does not come with a manual which means that you’ll probably be using Google a lot to answer questions. This is especially true if you’re not familiar with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (aka 2nd Edition). Second, there’s a glitch in the game that has not been fixed even though it existed in the PC version. If you choose to play the Story Mode difficulty of the game, your entire party will have a Strength score of 25 and a THACO of -20. Now, these are really great news for players as it really helps you out, but that also greatly reduces the difficulty. I’m a little bummed that Beamdog hasn’t fixed this in at least 2 years.
My final complaint has to do with Planescape: Torment. When you create your character, you can change stats, but you never get to choose a class and your never told your class. It turns out that you’re a fighter, but I really wish that this could’ve been made clear so that I could adjust my character’s abilities. Also, it kind of sucks that you don’t get to pick your class.
If you don’t mind becoming closely acquainted with Google and reading, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, and Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on console can be fun. It’s not a perfect game on console, but the game is a classic for a reason. Also, what better way to prepare for Baldur’s Gate III than playing the originals?