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Baldur's Gate (Windows)

91
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9350)
Written on  :  Nov 15, 2001
Platform  :  Windows

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful

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Summary

Despite the hate from the hardcore community this is great rpg.

The Good

First of all this was the first good D&D based rpg we had in years and it's a tremendous comeback. It sports great graphics, great sound, an easy to use interface and an epic rpg world in which to interact. The storyline in the game is actually very good, sure you can complain that in the end it all comes down to "kill Gonzo" but it's one heck of a wild ride till you get there! The plot makes some great twists and bends and it includes remarkably well constructed political conspiracies (which c'mon, how many of us thought of seeing that in a D&D game?), sideplots, plus the usual quest for ultimate power.

The battle system is really love or hate. It makes the mistake of taking the middle road between action and strategy, it's part real-time, and it's part strategy turn-based. So essentially what you have here is something that the grognards will hate because it's too fast and simple, and the Diablo-lovers will hate because it gives them a headache (no offense guys! ;)). Personally I thought it was great, providing the right balance between action and strategy. Besides quite simply it makes the battles fun, which is a requirement in a game that has so many of them. There's also the issue of party members and their reactions which are incredibly realistic, they react both to you and your other companions in very life-like ways according to their alignment. You can have fights break out in your party, discussions or insults flying at any moment as poor Viconia had to endure, etc, etc. Every possible party member feels realistic and behaves in a very life-like manner instead of just being walking inventories.

Ultimately the game provides lots of engrossing roleplaying, with hundreds of npc's to interact with, lots of detailed and vivid locations to visit, killer production values, and a great storyline. Plus it has the option for those ultimate freaks to place your picture and voices to replace the ones that represent you in the game! How cool is that?

The Bad

Well first of all I completely agree with the previous reviewer that the D&D rules suck. At least on computer games. They are far too redundant and complicated at the same time for a platform where all the hassle of having a dungeon master is eliminated, plus I never liked the far too generic stats (strength is for fighters, intelligence for mages, dexterity for thieves, etc.) The racial distinctions don't work that well, plus there is no point in picking a human since the game imposes an experience cap on you, meaning there's a limit to how strong you can get.

The storyline, for as good as it is is left hanging in the end. You kill Sarevok, see him die and that's it, roll credits, everyone go home. What happened to you? What happened to everyone else? Sure, we learn that in Baldur's Gate 2 but would it have killed them to provide a proper closure to the plot? There's also the fact that there isn't that much variety as advertised in the game. As the popular saying around the net goes, you only need "4 fighters and a six-pack" to get through this game, and it's true. Most of the game is geared towards fighting and cracking heads, and you only need an assortment of potions to get you out of the eventual tight spots. Plus a lot of the subquests are of the 'Fed Ex" type which as you can tell, don't exactly require a lot of thinking.

Last but not least I REALLY hate when game designers take the patronizing posture of limiting your savegames and their usage. This has been forever an issue that the hardcore community has always defended with their "it makes the game more realistic" thing and the rest of us loathe since it's akin to telling us how we should play our games. Nobody tells me when or where I should save, ok? If I want to be able to save every 10 seconds I should be able to do so, just because I want to. And for those of you macho-types that defend this conception and do it so on the basis that is more "realistic" and "challenging", here's a tip: DON'T SAVE. But let whoever wants to do it!

Returning to BG (sorry for that) the game allows you to save anywhere you want, but actually makes the insult of penalizing you for using those saves. Whenever you load a game, all the creatures that were around you respawn, which would be nice if it were a controlled respawning (since you may want to return to do some hack & slash in order to gain experience), but as I said, this is done to penalize you for loading games, so the respawnings are usually ridiculous AND cumulative, which make it downright suicide to save and load on dungeons. On the worst of cases you may have fought 5 kobolds in a corridor on Nashkell but if you re-load for whatever reason you will have to face 10 kobolds and 3 commandos, re-load again and we are talking 17 kobolds, 8 commandos, etc. etc. Lovely, isn't it? Your only answer whenever some bad thing happens to you in a dungeon is to then quit the game and re-load, or re-load and get the hell out as quickly as you can.

The Bottom Line

In the end Baldur's Gate is a great game. Sure, it receives a fair amount of hate because it isn't perfect (but is hailed as such), but let's be serious here folks: Baldur's Gate is a great rpg, and probably the greatest D&D based for it's time. Sure it brought a lot of hoopla with it's "isometric-ness" that surely has all the Wizardry fans in the world screaming in horror, but it is still a great game. Besides where else can you play with a space hamster??? ;)