Version Reviewed: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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It is impossible to reflect back on the annals of RPG history without hitting on the classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. Fourteen years after the release of Baldur’s Gate II, Overhaul Games have stepped in and given the second iteration in the series a fresh coat of paint. Can an iOS port of such a beloved title ever live up to the expectations of the nostalgic PC gaming audience? The answer to that question is not as straightforward as one might assume.
Everyone who attempted to tackle the original Baldur’s Gate released last year will know exactly what to expect in Baldur’s Gate II. The learning curve is steep, tutorials are virtually nonexistent, and lord help the poor newcomer that isn’t willing to read page after page of dialog trees. Simply put, this is a product of an era of gaming that was left in the past for a reason: it wasn’t approachable.
Players that enjoyed the game on PC eons ago will still enjoy the nostalgic trip down memory lane because it feels largely unchanged from the original version. It still has the same gigantic scope and compelling world that won over audiences, yet has been modified enough to be playable on an iOS device. But sometimes being playable is only half of the battle.
Where Baldur’s Gate II falls tragically short is making the interface work seamlessly on touch devices. It is one thing to be able to pick a location to navigate on screen; It is another thing entirely to deal with the complex battle mechanics at play in the later stages. Balancing all of the types of attacks and skills are hard enough to do with a mouse and keyboard. So it is easy to understand why the touchscreen controls begin to feel like another opponent in battle. Though the pause and dictate command feature that the series is known for somewhat alleviate these issues, mixing the control problems with the difficulty spike is enough to transform even the most experienced tacticians into random expletive generators.
Describing Baldur’s Gate II as insanely difficult is a borderline understatement. This is the type of punishing experience that should not be attempted by the faint of heart. Those that can conquer the unruly interface will be in for an engrossing adventure, but be forewarned that it will not be an easy road. If there were ever a poster child for the phrase “mileage may vary,” this game is it.
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