Over ten years ago, at GenCon 1998, I came across a tiny booth in the Grand Hall manned by a very friendly group of software developers from Edmonton, Alberta. They were promoting an upcoming game called Baldur’s Gate and boy, did it look terrific. Traffic in the booth was slow and they seemed grateful for the company — so much so that when I finally left, they handed me part of their display, a giant mock-up of the retail box. To this day it occupies a place of pride in my office.
When Baldur’s Gate was released in November 1998, it quickly became one of the most acclaimed computer role playing games in history. It put those friendly Edmonton developers, an outfit named BioWare, on the road to stardom, and over the next decade they came to dominate the industry with titles like Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Baldur’s Gate, with its splendid story, characters, and revolutionary (for the time) Infinity game engine, still occupies a special place in the hearts of modern gamers. It was released for Windows 95/98 and doesn’t run well on modern machines — so for most of us, Baldur’s Gate is a distant memory, like those late nights playing Dungeon Master on an Amiga.
All that is about to change. A small start-up named Overhaul Games launched by two ex-Bioware employees, co-founder Trent Oster and lead programmer Cameron Tofer, has spent the last two years working on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, a complete re-write of the original title for modern platforms. The new version boasts over 400 enhancements — including new high-res cinematics, an enhanced interface, improved multiplayer, core game improvements & bug fixes, higher level cap, over six hours of bonus quests & new adventures, new party members, and much more. It includes both the original game and the 1999 expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast.
Best of all, the game has been optimized for modern platforms, including the iPad and Android tablet. I for one can’t wait to sit down on the couch and play Baldur’s Gate on my iPad. You can see more details, including screenshots and a gorgeous trailer, at the Overhaul website.
The PC version of Baldur’s Gate is priced at $19.95; it will be available for download this Wednesday exclusively through the new Beamdog digital distribution platform. iPad and Mac OS editions will be sold through the Mac App Store in November; release date for the Android version is TBA.