When playing a game like Baldur’s Gate II on the iPad, it’s hard to not become that old man who always had it worse in his day, but somehow thinks it was better. “Why, when I was a boy, we didn’t play Baldur’s Gate on some fancy Apple tablet slate, we played it on a man’s computer, sitting at a desk as God intended, off of four compact digital discs. And we were grateful!”
What is it?
But now, Baldur’s Gate II is on that Apple tablet slate, and well it should be.
Originally released for computers in 2000, Baldur’s Gate II was enhanced and rereleased for Mac and PC in November, 2013. The update brought graphics and gameplay overhauls, and came with the Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal expansions, as well as The Black Pits 2: Gladiators of Thay, a tactical combat game. The updates were impressive, but it still felt like a blast from the past on the Macintosh. On the iPad, however, the same game feels huge and fresh, if not a bit unwieldy.
How does it work?
Baldur’s Gate II on the iPad is every bit the complex, strategy-intensive game it is on the computer, but with touchscreen controls. This presents a problem for those who are used to games that are “easy to pick up but difficult to master,” as Baldur’s Gate II is not easy to pick and can’t really be mastered. The point isn’t to create an addictive gaming experience with which you can annoy your Facebook friends, it’s to create an enthralling experience that keeps you rooted in its universe. Baldur’s Gate II does that through use of story and its implementation of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rules.
The story picks up where Baldur’s Gate (also available for iPad) left off, only now your character has been imprisoned by an evil wizard. You escape, of course, and quickly embark on a mission so full of plot twists and sub-quests that it would be impossible to summarize them all here. Even if you’ve played the game before and recall most of it, there’s plenty of extra features in the enhanced edition to give you cause to return, such as new party members that can greatly change the overall experience, plenty of expansion quests, and even multiplayer.
Is it contagious?
That depends on…well, not on how hardcore you are, but on how studious. This is a complex game (there are two manuals available to help you figure out the strategies and controls), made more complex by touchscreen controls. Despite what I said earlier, although the game looks great and feels modern on the iPad, there’s no denying that having a mouse and a keyboard at your disposal with the Mac version provides a more natural computer RPG experience. The iPad controls take some getting used to, which slows down the initial experience.
Once you get things moving, however, Baldur’s Gate II offers one of the deepest, most satisfying game experiences you can play on your iPad.
The game may cost $15.00 (with additional, but completely optional, in-app purchases), but the value you get from it goes well past that. Buy Baldur’s Gate II, and you won’t need to buy another iPad game for a couple of months…and you’ll be grateful.