A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is a downloadable role-playing game (RPG). This combat-oriented fantasy game features realistically complex characters that are as likely to be good as they are evil; the latter can steal, lie, cheat, and kill for selfish reasons. Characters can come to violent ends by sword, arrow, spear, magic, or other means, and death can be bloody, although the small characters and visual-art style of the graphics prevent this from becoming too graphic. Characters do frequent taverns and drink alcohol, and on occasion players will encounter drunk characters. Multiplayer matches can expose players to inappropriate content through text chat, although it can be locked to approved players by password. Players also should be aware that this game is challenging and requires a solid understanding of Dungeons & Dragons rules, along with a lot of trial and error, to succeed.
What's it about?
BALDUR'S GATE: ENHANCED EDITION focuses on the exploits of a heroic adventurer (you) who's on the run from unknown assailants. With a price on his (or her) head, the hero goes searching for personal answers as well as for the reasons behind the realm-wide "Iron Crisis." (The latter is an ongoing problem where all iron in the land has been corrupted and isn't good for making weapons.) Along the way, the hero encounters various colorful characters -- mages, warriors, thieves, and the like -- and converts them to his/her cause. Together, this motley group discovers something even more sinister than a manufactured Iron Crisis and attempts to put a stop to the threat before it destroys the land.
Is it any good?
The Enhanced edition is made for the kind of player who enjoys a good challenge as well as learning and using complex rules. It's a remake of 1998's Baldur's Gate and includes three new party members, cross-platform multiplayer, and a separate battle arena called the Black Pits. Despite these improvements, it retains its old-school gameplay, and that means players have to be ready to learn by trial and error, to save often, and to suffer permanent losses.
The game's main limitation is its brief tutorial. It doesn't do enough to teach players about how to use their powers and gear or how to build an effective five-character party. Gameplay can be paused at any time (even during combat), which gives you time to read through help files and make decisions. Unfortunately, constant pausing to hunt through the complicated interface makes for a clunky, old-fashioned pace modern gamers might not enjoy. All this, plus slow experience gains means leveling characters is difficult and keeping them alive requires saving after every single encounter. If you can deal with these issues, though, and forgive the outmoded tech (which includes "improved" but-still-not-so-pretty graphics), you're in for a sprawling story full of fun random encounters and the kind of rich role-playing experience not offered by most modern games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media such as Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. Is the violence in this game OK because it's clearly in a fantasy setting and completely unrealistic? Is the impact of the violence reduced because of the graphical presentation of combat?
Talk about cooperation. When is it a good idea to have friends help you achieve something?
Discuss fantasy characters from your favorite movie or TV show. If you could become one of them, which would it be, and why?
Think about magic. If you could create a magic spell, what would you call it and what would it do?
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