So people have been sitting on their hands for a while waiting for this thing. I was mildly interested in it, despite having played the original game in both its vanilla and modified forms to death. It seemed to be high on most PC gamers' radar, until we learned things like the game's "new" interface being basic mods slapped onto the existing UI for a ten dollar game. Then there's the problem of aesthetics.
The developer, in their stride to make the game "new," seems to have forgotten how poorly merging multiple fonts of wildly varying types can look. The font for the sidebar alongside the HP, AC, THAC0, etc. are in a font that clashes totally with the simplistic "fighter" text and the actual numbers they represent immediately to their left. That just looks like blind change. The new art style or whatever is totally fine - it's actually decent - but simple errors like that weird "fantasy" font just make the whole thing look clunky and poorly thought out. If they wanted to "modernize" the game's UI, then stuffing extra things into the already messy interface was certainly not the way to go about it. Ditching the iconography on the right entirely and using a solely text-based info dump is less visually appealing, but certainly just as useful. The game is already 90% text as it is, so I don't see the reason to shove in more info in a more confusing way.
Then there's this piece of hilarity.
I don't want to sound like an old man hating change, but what was the philosophy behind that change? The originalwas perfectly adequate, required no change and therefore no cost of resources which, judging from the entire release, this could have used any and all of them. Just read the wonders going on at their bugs forum. One especially interesting, if anecdotal at this point, set of bugs is that apparently the game crashes after the Candlekeep scene on Intel, Nvidia, and AMD chipsets.
That's not the entire market of graphics chipsets is it? Oh, it is? Well, that's unfortunate. For a game that has been delayed for a while, to have the end result be a simple regurgitation of the game with some UI mods and "promise of DLC" is quite disappointing. What's further confusing is that the game has been touted as a "modernization" when one thing still stands in the way: 2nd Edition AD&D. Now, for some people that's fine because they learned early on what To Hit Armor Class 0 means (essentially the roll required on a sliding scale where, say, the attacker has a THAC0 of 15 and the defender has an AC of 5, the attacker has to roll a 10 or greater to hit) and the wholly stupid concept of "lower is better" for armor class.
However, for people that got into RPG's of this caliber with Dragon Age, this whole system seems archaic, banal, and pointlessly complicated in parts. To some extent they are right. I, for one, agree but have also played almost entirely 2nd edition and 3.5edition AD&D since I was about eleven. I get the rules and still sometimes stumble around some of the weird subrules.
Unfortunately for us, that leaves the game in a sort of middle ground where it is neither appealing to the original fanbase because the original system being unchanged provides no challenge (not to mention that the hardcoded engine allowed for some violently cheesy tactics that have to be abused at points depending on party composition), the lack of change in the base game besides an arena mode - already in the existing code and unlocked via mods - and a few new NPC's, and finally the gratuitous eye molestation in the cluttered UI. Then there's the new blood who, if interested in the game, would find it pretty confusing after a brief search to find that the game is already $9.99 on GOG as opposed to the $19.99 of this version.
A slightly more involved search would bring up that the mods required to make the two games in parity requires zero technical know-how and amounts to little more than clicking an executable. Even without that knowledge, most people would just get the GOG version, right? Perhaps the prospect of an iPad version is enough to sate you? Well, judging by what we know about how poorly the thing runs on modern hardware (via this version only) I am quite frightened by that version. Who knows, though? Maybe that was the lead platform all along.
So what we end up with is a game that was re-released for no discernible reason, priced too highly, and quite buggy on release. The "enhanced edition" should not require the new user to fix bugs and apply patches that were already required in the base game and, in some instances, wait for patching from Beamdog to have their game "fixed." Another problem arises in that the client from the developer seems to range in speeds from 10 kbps to, at best, 100. Apparently there is a solution that requires changing ports, but that is also another issue with releasing something seemingly better over a client that seems to be entirely useless. I shouldn't have to configure ports for a game client in 2012 - that's just poor forethought and stinks of a torrent client. Load-testing seems to be another issue for the developer, but I don't know enough about networking to comment on that.
My only advice, if you don't bother to read this all, is to buy the game on GOG and modify with the recommended ones over at the forums. If you intend on buying the iPad version, just be wary please - the game is still fantastic but everything surrounding it seems unstable and unusual. Then again, this is first day so some issues are to be expected. However, the graphical problems and "changes" go beyond that.
After having it installed for a while now, there are a few things that are hilariously bad (this is coming from my experience and a friend's, both having played many playthroughs of BG1):
- Resolution upscales from 1024x768, just like this generation of console does 720p to 1080p
- Therefore, the new shitty text is now super blurry as well and the WS mod is already better
- New NPC's and areas are poorly written/designed, and the new areas look quite bad in contrast
- Some of the tooltips are straight up wrong/apply to the wrong item