If there’s one thing that Steven King’s Pet Sematary can teach, it’s that trying to bring the dead back to life is probably not a good idea, because they never come back the way they were before. No, instead they come back evil. Despite this, the “Enhanced Edition” of Baldur’s Gate is set to be released on November 28th, 2012, just under fourteen years after the original game’s release.
Baldur’s Gate is an undisputed classic, one of those classic games that many people will never forget, and porting it to iPads and Android-powered devices is nothing but a good thing. The bug fixes are also a good thing. People who were uninvolved with the original game adding content, however, is where this tips into Pet Sematary territory.
Think of it this way: Artists these days have numerous tools that weren’t available hundreds of years ago, and yet there would be an uproar if someone used Photoshop and a printer to change the lighting in the Mona Lisa and replace it with an updated version. Why is a classic game like Baldur’s Gate any different? The Mona Lisa has been touched up, yet the painting remain true to the original vision. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, on the other hand, adds several new quests and characters that weren’t originally present. Bug fixes and porting to iOS and Android are one thing, being the equivalent of touching up a painting, but adding content just because it’s possible is a huge misstep; classics should be maintained, but never changed. Adding new characters is the equivalent of adding random fan fiction into a movie or television series—even if it works, it’s being added apart from the original intention of those who developed the game. In fact, even if the exact same people were the ones working on it, enough time has passed to where even they couldn’t add to that vision without causing it harm (George Lucas proved this by adding a bunch of random things to the original Star Wars movies that undermined them in many ways and incited fan rage). The game was already complete so what’s the purpose of adding random content?
The answer to that is obvious: In order to charge more. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is selling for $19.99 USD, twice the amount of the complete (original) game on GOG, and unlike at GOG where it’s entirely DRM-free, the Enhanced Edition is irrevocably chained to the much-maligned Beamdog client. Add in the fact that many bug fixes and additional characters are available for the original version for free thanks to user-made mods, and the only thing the Enhanced Edition has going for it (aside from being ported to other devices) is the fact that it’s official.
Some people will buy it because they have absolutely no respect for the game’s original vision. Others will buy it because it’s a vote for the Baldur’s Gate 3 game that Beamdog wants to make, despite the fact that the story was wrapped up with the tightest bow tie you could possibly imagine and continuing the story would require doing serious damage to it. Both groups of people will have it coming when the games that they love, games they consider to be perfect as they are, are hijacked by people originally uninvolved with them in order to make a quick buck with lazy additions.
If games are ever going to be as respected as other storytelling mediums, fans will have to first treat them as such by refusing to allow projects such as Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition to succeed. As Darth Vader now says (thanks to George Lucas and his incessant, unnecessary additions), “Nooooooooooo!”