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Baldur's Gate

aka: Battleground Infinity, Bode zhi Men, Forgotten Realms: Iron Throne, Puerta de Baldur, Wrota Baldura
Moby ID: 712

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 90% (based on 55 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 292 ratings with 17 reviews)

Yes, my omnipresent authority figure!

The Good
Three games heralded the RPG Renaissance during the second half of the 1990's, popularizing the genre more than ever before: Diablo, Fallout, and Baldur's Gate. Of those three, the last one went on to become the longest-lasting, most influential template for modern RPG design.

Baldur's Gate is BioWare's first RPG and their second game in general. It is quite remarkable that the Canadian developers could produce an instant classic despite apparent lack of experience. According to their own statement, they were highly reverent of Ultima series and SSI's work, and that sentiment is manifested in the game's emphasis on exploration and writing on one side, and its adherence to classic AD&D mechanics on the other.

A strong influence must have been Dark Sun games, which attempted to modernize traditional RPGs a few years before. But Baldur's Gate is bolder than Dark Sun, and feels more exciting thanks to the cues it takes from Ultima games. It has more personality, more life in its locations, more spirit present in gameplay devices it uses to the advantages of narrative and immersion.

Right after the dramatic prologue, the world of Baldur's Gate becomes available for exploration. Theoretically, you can just march to the titular city the moment you are thrown out of Candlekeep, trying to run away from battles you wouldn't survive. Many locations are optional and exploration is essential for finding the next objective and advancing the plot. In this way, Baldur's Gate is an old-school game: it doesn't hold your hand, and it challenges you. At the same time, its scripted events make you feel closer to the main story: assassins would jump out of nowhere and go after you, you'll meet characters who may contribute valuable information, and so on. The game is less open-ended or flexible in its role-playing than Fallout, but there is still a considerable degree of freedom. Who doesn't know the joy of spending the first twenty minutes of a game mowing down innocent cows or sending your thief on a crime spree in the local hotel?

The game's engine is an absolute beauty. It allows free movement through isometric environments, with each party member being fully controllable. Exploration and combat are continuous, greatly contributing to immersion and suspense, making battles dynamic and exciting, and opening up interesting possibilities. You can, for example, have your thief hide in shadows and send him to explore a dungeon area full of dangerous monsters, disable all the traps, perhaps even backstab and kill a couple of weaker enemies, and then safely come back.

Combat flows in real time, but you can pause it to issue specific orders to your characters, like in Darklands. This option makes both quick skirmishes as well as deeply planned tactical battles possible. You'll have to manage your melee fighters, spellcasters and ranged attackers correctly in order to gain the upper hand. Smart positioning may lead you to victory that would be absolutely impossible if you just put all party members together and charged at the enemies. The system also allows for neat tricks such as sending one character far ahead, spotting enemies, and luring them to come to you one-by-one - but don't hope that every type of enemy will fall for that.

Enemy AI in the game is quite impressive. Foes will often come in large groups complete with melee fighters, archers, and mages, who will also use tactical planning to assault you. The most exciting and difficult battles in Baldur's Gate are thus party-to-party confrontations. Overall, the game boasts some of the most flexible, enjoyable, and reasonably deep combat around - challenging yet not frustrating, fairly complex without the head-spinning detail of Realms of Arkania.

In terms of storytelling and approach to characterization, Baldur's Gate is closer to Ultima than to SSI's games. The main attraction of the story is the presence of a hero with a real biography - he (or she) is not some kind of a wandering knight or adventurer without a real purpose in life, but a young scared boy (or girl) thrown out of home, threatened by mysterious assassins, having no place in the hostile world. You start the adventure with virtually nothing, being weak and helpless, without a clear idea about what is going on and why those people killed your foster father and want to kill you, but gradually develop into a mighty, fearsome warrior (well, that comes later, in Throne of Bhaal). Your purpose is not to save villages and the world, but yourself, in what can be qualified as a "medieval espionage thriller".

But of course, you are not alone in this dangerous world: there are people who will help you in your perilous journey. The more you explore the game world, the more characters you'll meet who are willing to join your party for various reasons. The choice is vast - chances are you'll be switching your party members and experimenting with them until the end of the game. Every character has their own advantages or disadvantages, but it is possible (and necessary) to create a versatile and well-balanced party to confront all dangers. Those characters often have interesting or amusing personalities, making the script livelier and infusing it with good writing and humorous elements. Who can ever forget the hyperactive ranger Minsc with his "miniaturized space hamster" Boo?..

Lastly, the game has lovely isometric graphics with plenty of warmth and detail, and a beautiful orchestral soundtrack consisting mainly of appropriately modal, archaic-sounding tunes. Many locations ooze cozy atmosphere, and even the many "empty" wilderness screens are a pleasure to explore.

The Bad
Some people just don't like AD&D. I understanding that figuring out stuff like THAC0 or the amount of dice the game throws to calculate damage can get in the way of those who just want to dive into action. That is hardly the fault of developers who decide to base their game on a certain set of pre-existing rules and therefore have to follow it. Personally, I think the game could have been a little bit less vanilla D&D. Dark Sun games had unique races and a more exotic scenario. Here, you'll just have to settle for humanoid characters in a strict medieval atmosphere.

Others don't appreciate the difficulty of combat. I really like it the way it was, but perhaps the characters could have been made slightly more powerful. Mages at early development stages are next to useless, and the game is over before you get to the really nifty spells. That's one of the reasons Baldur's Gate is best enjoyed in conjunction with its excellent sequels.

The Bottom Line
One of BioWare's commercials I read stated that this company had revived the RPG genre. As blatant as it sounds, there is truth in that statement. The designers took essential components of classic medieval RPGs and molded them into a game that feels old and new at once, traditional in spirit and modern in execution. Baldur's Gate is a masterfully designed landmark game that respectfully bows to the past and at the same time confidently gazes into the future.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180476) · 2014

A dense, masterful fantasy world, but not for everybody

The Good
Quite simply, Baldur's Gate is one of the greatest electronic role-playing games ever crafted. Set in the Tolkien-esque high fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms, BG provides an open world with open-ended possibilities.

The game allows you to create an alter-ego and fine-hone every detail down to the hair color, armor, and even the voice of the on-screen avatar. You lead your character and up to five other NPCs up and down a beautiful isometric interpretation of the Sword Coast as you investigate a story filled with political intrigue and divine prophecy. The non-linear structure of the game allows you to take the story at your own pace, and the developers rarely nudge you one way or the other.

BG's endless character arrangements and vast array of equipment and spells add unparalleled depth to the real-time strategic combat system, which transitions seamlessly from normal gameplay.

One playthrough of the game can't possibly provide the full experience. The game virtually endlessly replayable. Ethical choices are made in conversation ranging from goody-goody to horrifically evil and everything in between, and these choices have drastic impacts on the gameplay. It's possible to play through with a vast combination of interacting party-members, each with their own dynamic and relationship with one another.

The interface and graphics were gorgeous for the time, and are still wildly appreciable today. The epic soundtrack is reminiscent of a Hans Zimmer score in its scope and beauty.

The Bad
The open-endedness comes with a huge price. The game has an overly-steep learning curve, especially if you wish to get the full experience. While the basics of gameplay are inherently simple, it can take literally years to fully grasp the intricacies of successful approaches to battles, certain dialogs, and party mechanics.

Although events can by-and-large be experienced in any order, the game is optimized and designed to be played one particular way. Straying outside of the very specific sequence of scripting triggers, including talking to people in the wrong order or picking up quest items before being given a quest, can lead to incredibly confusing snafus with story chronology. Novice players can expect to be very confused at certain points in the game.

Combat can be insanely hard, even on the least difficult setting (which actually just rebalances the monster difficulty/experience reward ratio). Players can expect to be frustrated at many key points, and those who don't save very often may find themselves too frustrated to continue.

Creating your own character means that the story never truly centers on your alter-ego. Rather than experiencing the story first-hand, things more-or-less happen around the main character while others interact with one another. Because your party is so customizable, interpersonal banter is more of a gimmick. Each character's background is never really expounded upon apart from a blurb on their rap sheet, which remains a springboard for a sidequest at best and superfluous at worst.

The Bottom Line
An epic and gorgeous role-playing adventure, Baldur's Gate is one of the most rewarding experiences for the seasoned gaming veteran. With unparalleled depth and abundant customizability and choice, this strategic RPG provides not just hours, but potentially years of gameplay, and remains a perennial favorite for classic gaming enthusiasts. It's biggest flaws are inherent side-effects of its greatest attribute -- it's open-endedness. One of the greatest computer games ever made, if you make the easy choice to submit your full attention to it.

Windows · by jTrippy (58) · 2008

Excellent standard setting RPG game for years and years to follow!

The Good
I loved EVERYTHING about this game. The musical compositions rate up there with Carl Orff, sounds like music from something like a Braveheart battle. The music written for this game is classic in itself. I have the intro theme on CD and listen to it as though I would other music. The game was an instant jaw-dropper for me and my AD&D buddies... for once, it felt as though we were instantly submerged in a real-life forgotten realms campaign. The rules and modifiers follow the paper N' pen game to a T. Extremely accurate.

Nothing was cheesy about this game, just a serious hardcore RPG for hardcore gamers. The path is somewhat linear but enough freedom to allow you to explore areas that you would get horribly reamed if you weren't strong enough (Something most RPGs today don't let you do). The atmosphere of the realm is such a beautiful recreation of the Paper N Pen game, some recognizable characters appear such as the almighty human form of Paladine AKA Fizban... the infamous and deadly drow elf, Drizzt.

This game was so addicting to me and my friends, we literally cut the outside world off for a month after buying this classic. I believe it was the first gamed developed using the old engine and its a shame they quit using it because these games blow the new NeverWinter Night style games out of the water. No polygon 3d engine will every produce colors and the hand drawn background art like in this game. The game is huge, many many hours of exploring, fighting and town wandering.

The game has a full day cycle where you can tell if its getting close to sunset or morning. The great thing about this is like the Ultima series, different events happen during the day and night. The town of Baldur's Gate is almost like 2 different towns depending on whether or not you go in at night or day.

I loved everything about this game... timeless. A perfect recreation of how the paper n pen game WOULD look if you could actually see it.

The Bad
Setting up the pause features can get a bit annoying, sometimes you want it to pause after certain events, others not. You have to go back in and change it every time you want to adjust it.

If you didn't do the full install, prepare for some disc swapping. 5 to be exact. Why was it on 5 discs?? The whole game can be compressed and fit on 2.

Much too difficult to play without using the pause features. Especially when you're trying to control 6 guys, 3 of which are spell casters, trying to fumble through your spells, cast them, aim them... it would be much too hard fighting in real time.

Some poor AI path-finding code. I think they addressed this in a patch but there are still some problems even after the patch. If you click to walk too far ahead of the character, the characters will start walking very stupidly, running in to walls and each other. VERY VERY frustrating in combat!

Characters can block each other in tight quarters!! Very annoying. And some of the scenes and areas are too small for 6 people to fight in. One could argue that this is a realistic factor but the AI sometimes makes dumb choices in those events.

Mages you encounter and have to fight are extremely difficult in my opinion, especially towards the end of the game. As though a high level mage should be difficult, sometimes its ridiculous.

The Bottom Line
One of the best RPG's EVER EVER created... a faithful recreation of the Paper and Pen version of AD&D... a MUST PLAY for any RPG fan...a MUST MUST MUST play for fans of the paper n pen version of AD&D!

Windows · by OlSkool_Gamer (88) · 2004

Excellent game based on 2nd edition rules

The Good
It had a fantastic story, and it kept away from the hack-and-slash reputation that D&D games always seem to fall into. A lot of attention was put into the D&D rules.

Graphics and sound were well thought-out and they seemed to make sense (in BG2 the graphics were a little more distracting, although technically better - very odd). Overall they added to the game.

Very well balanced, and fairly easy to use. Keyboard shortcuts were customizable (by default they were actually confusing).

It was nice to pick up part members along the way - each with their own story and goals.

You could technically play evil characters, though it was difficult.

The Bad
Technically speaking, the game is only 640x480. It's sub-par for the era of game, but the details were done so well, you won't notice too much.

Every time you came to the end of a section, you KNEW there was a mage there. And he always had spells that were going to make life difficult. I actually grew to hate this.

While the story was fairly linear, it wasn't inherently obvious what was the next step, and sometimes you'd get off on a side quest, only to get off on another side quest, only to find another, only to find... .

The Bottom Line
Overall this is a fantastic game. It's well worth the going-price (I picked it up for $20) for any D&D fans out there. For non-D&D fans, if you want to see what D&D is all about, pick up this game. It's the best representation I know if in recent times.

Windows · by Cyric (50) · 2001

A true gem, but it still has its detractors

The Good
Baldur's Gate nailed one thing perfectly: the atmosphere of the game world. There's just so much to see and do as you trek across the wilds of Faerun, and there are dozens of quaint little inns to visit across an assortment of villages and towns. Every NPC that will join your team has a neat little backstory, and they will complain if your virtuous behaviour or lack thereof conflicts with their morals.

Every yard of every zone you can travel in seems hand-painted, and some corners of the world are so cozy you almost wish you could crawl inside the game world. Many an inn had that effect on me, as the glow of the roaring fire lit the common room while a bard played a lively melody, and Dwarvish ale flowed liberally from the taps.

One of my favorite features in Baldur's Gate are the hand-drawn character portraits. Some of your female companions are just plain hot, and I find myself gravitating towards an all-girl party just for that reason. But, many of the male characters are stalwart foot soldiers, so there's still plenty of room for them too.

Plotting is done with a light touch, as you're never required to do anything in particular to advance the plot, until you are good and ready to do so. Which is nice, because open-world design has got the be the peak experience of gaming. You can travel the land wherever your heart desires, and you will come across all sorts of strange beasts and commoners in need of protection from such creatures.

Leveling is a slow affair, which makes it all the more rewarding when you finally do hit level two, which could take a few days. The assortment of classes you can choose from is excellent, and every character feels unique in the abilities and proficiencies.

The Bad
However, the bread and butter of gameplay, combat, can be rather tedious at times. Unless you spend a great deal of effort leveling up your characters well ahead of where you need to be, each battle spells potential ruin for your party.

A critical hit to a character may bring them under -9 hit points, causing them to explode in a shower of giblets. That character can never be restored. This is avoided by putting the game difficulty down a notch where death in this manner cannot occur.

If you try and sleep in the wild, half the time you will be ambushed, and as likely as not one of your mages will be targeted, killed in one hit, forcing your to re-load.

Re-loading wouldn't be such a chore but for a minor issue. Whenever you do so, the music restarts from the beginning, which may become wearying to your ears very quickly.

Essentially, all this forces you to be extremely careful, never letting your weaker characters get jumped, and healing anyone who takes so much as a scratch of damage. This really interrupts the flow of the game, and if you aren't completely won over by the good aspects of Baldur's Gate, you may be turned off entirely.

However, there is another approach that is slightly less harrowing. If you are willing to admit when you are outmatched, you can simply forgo exploring an area until you are really ready. There will always be an abundance of areas that are fairly straightforward for whatever level you happen to be.

The Bottom Line
Baldur's Gate stands as a landmark achievement in video gaming, and remains one of the strongest role-playing titles ever released on the PC. It made its mark just as 2D game environments were on their last legs, and as a result its hand-drawn style is as much an artistic achievement as a technical triumph, thanks to the quality of visual elements, as well as the lush orchestral score.

Windows · by Chris Wright (85) · 2015

A fantastic adaption of the AD&D world.

The Good
Oi, pretty much everything is good in Baldur's Gate, but I'll try to keep it short. Well, the character generation is easy and pretty, and yet still detailed enough to make it interesting and fun to play around with. As for in-game stuff, I must say that the control interface is really great, as it gives you the option to assign keys to every action, every spell, every item....you get the point. It's easy and fast, even if you stick with your mouse (but why oh why?) and choose not to use the keyboard commands. Design-wise it is very very tight, with an excellent storyline and non-player characters with personality. You notice their personality as you do things or ask them to do things for you ("Sleep lightly, Taskmaster!", whispers Montaron, whenever you ask him to do something). On top of all this, there are tons of fun and quirky details, which adds alot to the atmosphere.

Combat is a breeze aswell. It takes place in real-time, and all you have to do is click (or press a key) and things will happen. Very simple and neat. But what makes it great is the 'pause' option. By pressing space you'll pause the game while you assign actions to your party. This is essential in most larger battles, as it's real easy to loose track of things. Great feature. As for the graphics and the sounds, they're both great. Really nice isometric world with all the right animal sounds, plus the usual howling and growling.

All in all, Baldur's Gate is a well-designed, detail-rich game with pretty spells and bloody sword-fights. And heaps of quests to finish! Almost the perfect role-playing game (if you're into that kinda thing).

The Bad
The only thing that really annoyed me in the long run was the travelling. Though the system is better than most games (Baldur's Gate has divided the world into several smaller areas, giving you a mix between point-and-click travelling and instant travel), it can still get tedious to walk the realms. But that is such a minor complaint when everything else is so darn good.

The Bottom Line
A great role-playing game that should satisfy everyone from a neophyte of the genre to the hardened AD&D fanatic. Simply stunning.

Windows · by faceless (438) · 2000

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??? ;)

Windows · by Zovni (10502) · 2001

I really wanted to like this game. I really did. But I don't.

The Good
I remember when this game first came out. After viewing either the trailer or a demo (can't remember which), I knew that it was my destiny to one day play this game. At the time, I was freshly out of college and delightfully unemployed... thus, no way I could shell out the cash for such a game. Fast forward a few years, and I was able to locate the game at the local used bookstore for about $10. Imagine my delight!

This game looks great. The graphics are very well done, and still hold up today (2006). The game is set in a very detailed world, and the environment is very rich. Sound is also nice, though the random comments from your teammates get a bit boring and repetitive after a while.

I was a paper & pencil AD&D player right around the time they released the 2nd edition rules, and I always got excited when "official" AD&D games were to be released, since I felt as though I had a good feel for them. However...

The Bad
... The game (and, in fact, most AD&D games that I've played, going all the way back to the Gold Box series) is very focused on the rules. And, quite frankly, I think that the P&P ruleset is just too cumbersome for a computer RPG. If you have never read a D&D/AD&D rulebook in your life, you will have something of an awkward learning curve. It can take some time to get a feel for how to generate a decent character and how to balance the party... and nobody likes having to keep starting the game over to re-do the character generation.

Another thing that annoys me more than a little is the walking around. The game world is, as I mentioned, fairly large and detailed. However, once you are in a location (town, dungeon, etc...), there doesn't seem to be any sort of quick way to get from one end of the map to the other. You just click where you want your characters to go, and then they walk there. Pretty standard, except they don't really walk fast. So walking around a town ends up being a series of click, wait, click, wait, click, wait... Or, you can move the map around and click directly on the location you want to walk to. Then you have a reeeeeally long wait while your party walks there. I'm honestly not sure which way is less annoying.

My biggest gripe about the game, though, is that it seemed to get way too hard way too fast. In fact, it was because of this that I never got very far into it. The old meet-an-NPC-who-has-been-hired-by-a-mysterious-force-to-kill-you routine gets old, particularly when the NPCs seem to be either much higher in level -- or at least, much more familiar with all the AD&D rules and the combat system in the game. Near the beginning, I often found that while I was struggling to remember how to tell my party members to move around and do different things, I got more or less wiped out in a couple rounds of combat. I do tend to prefer a turn-based or phase-based combat system, so the pseudo-real-time setup in this game was too much for me to manage on top of everything else. (That's not necessarily a fault of the game, it's probably just that my brain doesn't jive with it.)

There is a difficulty setting, which I left right in the middle (I recall the game telling me that making it easier causes the characters to gain less experience points from fights... so it takes longer to level up). It is my opinion that someone who has never played an AD&D game before should be able to read through the rulebook, start playing at the standard difficulty level, and still have a fair chance at not having to save and restore each time combat starts.

The Bottom Line
Overall, I'm disappointed in the game. I know that it got great reviews everywhere so my first instinct was to convince myself that I wasn't giving the game a fair shake, and that I just needed to get used to it. However, the more I played, the more annoyed I got -- until I finally just stopped playing. Maybe one day I'll give it another chance, but for now it's just getting dusty on my shelf.

Windows · by Mirrorshades2k (274) · 2006

Despite a few irritating flaws, a fun adaptation of pen and paper AD&D

The Good

'Baldur's Gate' does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the pen and paper AD&D roleplaying game. In my younger days, when I had more time and more geeky friends like me, I used to play AD&D on paper. This game brings back a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings.

The real time combat system does a fantastic job of taking the turn based combat of the pen and paper game, and actually making it fun for the PC crowd. The ability to pause and reissue orders in mid-combat is a great idea, and allows one to retain the feel of a turn-based system, but with the sense of urgency you get from a real-time system.

'Baldur's Gate' offers a great variety of monsters, spells, and magic items from the AD&D world. You'll encounter everything from oozes and slimes, to skeletons and gnolls, and AD&D fans will delight in being able cast magic missiles and fireballs at them all. Thief abilities are also well implemented in the game. You'll find that without a skilled thief, you'll be setting off a lot of lightning and fireball traps in the various dungeons.

The game's story is good, and AD&D veterans will be familiar with the references to various deities and well known NPCs (Drizz't makes a brief cameo). The story progresses through several chapters, each advancement triggered by a certain event or location reached by the players party. The battles are usually challenging, but don't generally wear on or get tedious.

**The Bad**
It must be mentioned that this game has a few serious bugs that no patch seems to fix. There are random crashes and lock-ups from time to time, and there are more severe flaws as well. After defeating the final boss and completing the game, the game makes a final save for you to load after installing the expansion pack, 'Tales from the Sword Coast'. Well, in my case, after defeating the final boss, the so-called 'final save' put me back at the beginning of that final battle. No matter how many times I win, I am never able to save my progress after that point. Essentially, I went through the entire game, only to never be allowed credit for finishing it. This is important because you can export your main character into the sequel, and the experience points from the final battle are never awarded to you if you encounter this bug.

Another problem I had with 'Baldur's Gate' is the character creation process. The means by which you create a character is fine (for the most part), but you only get to create the main character. The rest of your party is filled out by NPCs along the way. While I hated this idea at the outset of the game, I did understand the decision better by the games end. Having a large number of NPCs to choose from to fill out your party is intended to add replay value to the game. But how many people are going to play a 40 hour RPG with a fairly linear story a second time? I would rather have been able to create my entire party from scratch. Having created all of your characters (like in the original 'Pool of Radiance') gives you a greater sense of attachment to them. I always felt like my NPCs may be leaving at any moment, or I may need to switch them out for someone else. Who wants to spend half a game leveling up your ranger and equipping him with nifty magic weapons and armor, only to trade him away for some random new NPC?

There are also minor gameplay issues that bother me. Where is the rule in AD&D that says you can't wear magic armor AND a ring/cloak of protection? There is no such rule, and I don't like that it applies to this game. Also, the NPC mages that you encounter that will join your party are almost always specialist wizards, and almost always lack access to one or more very important group of spells. Again I ask, why can't I create my whole party? Illusionists are useless, and I would never create one, but I sure got stuck with one in my party for a while.

Also, there seem to be too many magic items out there in the world. It takes away from the special feeling of finding a Wand of Fire when I am already trying to make room for the four that I have. Rings and Cloaks of Protection seem to pop up everywhere too, especially late in the game. Of course, as I said, if you have magic or ankheg armor, you won't be able to wear them anyway. (Argh!)

**The Bottom Line**
Because so many RPGs are so very bad, and this one is mostly good, I would have to recommend it to any RPG fan, even with its flaws. I would make it a double recommendation to fans of pen and paper AD&D, if you can bring yourself to look past some annoying rules inconsistencies. Uptight AD&D purists will probably not be able to accept those problems. Overall 'Baldur's Gate' makes for a pretty enjoyable roleplaying experience, but not a perfect one.

Windows · by Entorphane (337) · 2002

A groundbreaking RPG

The Good
Everything. First of all, the graphics: great, awesome, stunning, realistic, and the ability to import your own "custom" portraits if you don't like the ones the game has to offer, who could ask for more? Next, the sounds: interesting music, every character has their own voice which reflects their personality, and again you can use your own custom voices for the game (I even recorded my own voice speaking my character's lines). Thirdly, the AI: Your characters will become happy or upset depending on their alignment and your actions. I have actually had a couple of evil-aligned party members walk out on me because I kept doing good deeds and raising my reputation to the "heroic" level. Fourth: the game engine. Why can't all RPGs use this engine? It certainly is innovative, and user-friendly, and generally just the best RPG engine I've ever seen. Those who don't like the engine really show that they have not played the game very much. And lastly: replayability. Very much so. There are literally hundreds of side quests, and you will probably play the game several times before you find them all (I've had this game since it first came out, and I still haven't found all of them). Also, the Tales of the Sword Coast add-on adds four or five new areas to explore, with new treasures and magic items which cannot be found elsewhere in the game.

The Bad
The only problem I had with the game was the fact that you could not equip more than one form of magical protection on the same character (like a Ring of Protection +1 could not be equipped on my thief because she was already wearing Shadow Armor). There is nothing in the AD&D rules about this being forbidden. Whose idea was that?

The Bottom Line
If you are a hard-core RPG player, I would not tell you to get this game, because if you truly are, you already have it. Truly an epic game, and already a classic six short years later.

Windows · by Christopher Sutler (6) · 2005

6 Years On, Baldur's Gate Is Still An Absolute Classic

The Good
I have been meaning to write a review about Baldur's Gate for 5 years now. Upon finishing it for the first time nearly 5 years ago, I sat back and vowed to someday put my praise of this gem onto paper. Sadly, I never got around to actually doing it. That is until 3 weeks ago, I scoured my bin of oldies and there it was ominously staring back at me. Moving junk aside I held the gargantuan, worn and weird smelling 5 disc case cheaply taped together by yours truly in my hands. Nostalgia swept over me and I realized that it has been 5 years since I have played this game. 3 weeks later I emerged foul smelling and was beginning to lose my eyesight. Let me tell you my friends, I enjoyed this beautiful masterpiece so much, I decided to keep my vow. And then I promptly bought Shadows of Amn (the sequel), but that is another tale...

The Actual Review...

The game is set in Faerun, of the Dungeons and Dragons fame. Don't worry though you will not need to know basically anything about Faerun at first to enjoy the land and it's people, which is why this game is so wonderful. Once you are in the game and playing you will not feel out of place at all. This is a beautiful fantasy world teeming with life and unique characters and once you finish Baldur's Gate I know you will read up more on this "Faerun." It is that immersive.

Soundwise, this game was a breakthrough in video game entertainment. Bioware outdid itself with its ambient environmental effects. Enter a forest area and you can hear birds and natural wildlife along with trees swaying and wind blowing. When rain comes, it comes with excellent audio. I'm telling you, crank up your fancy speakers and listen! You will become immersed. The towns are constantly alive with sounds of commotion and people shouting. Masterful. The combat sounds such as spell effects and weapons hitting flesh along with the music is commendable as well.

You all play CRPG's for the story right? Even as a couple of Diablo fanboys scamper out I'm going to tell you that the Baldur's Gate saga is one of the great storytelling achievements not just in videogames but literature as well. Call me crazy but I enjoyed the story that much! Oh and don't read the crap novels based on this game the author did it no justice. Baldur's Gate follows the player character as he/she sets out from his warm, cozy lifestyle in the fortress-library of Candlekeep and takes off into the unforgiving land of Faerun. This comes on the heels of your foster father Gorion's urgent warnings. You are sent out into the world fresh for adventure, and there are many twists and turns along the way including one at the start, which will hook you for the rest of the game. Even in Candlekeep things aren't what they seem and without spoiling anything I can tell you that the story blossoms as you advance. You will never feel like saying "What the hell am I actually doing here?"

The gameplay is simple and intuitive. Party navigation is a breeze, and over 15 NPC's can be recruited into your party of 6 as you progress and their unique "banter" amongst themselves really never leaves you bored with your party. Combat is simple and the weapons are fun. Character development is one of the richest ever found in an CRPG. As for all this anger about the rules of D&D and how they "suck" in a CRPG, I can safely say that you should not worry one bit if you are looking for a rich roleplaying experience. I never bothered with 2nd edition 3rd edition and all that crap, the rules are fine and everything is calculated "behind-the-scenes" for you so it never takes away from the experience. Everything is seamlessly done and for a person looking to immerse themselves in a wonderful world the rules should never come up and detract from your game.

With a lot of areas to cover and hundreds of quests and mini quests (I'm not kidding) you are looking at least 30 hours of gameplay, 20 if you "powergame" and rush through. That's real value for the 10$ max you're paying. By the way you may not find this in bargain bins anymore so you might have to look up a local auction site or order it online but even then the money you spend is well spent.



The Bad
Graphically the old game is showing its age, I must admit. The 640x480 resolution and low-bit sprites are all here, but strangely enough it did not detract from the overall experience one bit. For all you "What are you crazy, 640x480? This ain't the stone age!" people who might pass up on this game because the graphics are dated, do no despair! There is a great mod/upgrade for Baldur's Gate called BGtutu which converts the engine to the newer Baldur's Gate II engine, with dramatic effect.

The Bottom Line
There's no reason to doubt me and countless other gamers out there that consider this the Holy Grail of CRPG's, there is a reason for that. The reason is that Baldur's Gate is one of those special games that you will be proud to own and look back on it in another 20 years as the "genre-reviving","genre-breaking" masterpiece that it truly is.

There's not much left to say, except that if you are a person that is reading this review right now, in front of your computer, and searching for that different RPG, that is not just hack and slash then end your search my friend. You have found your gem and it is called Baldur's Gate. Give it a go, and when you're done and well on your way to installing it's sequel do what I did and recommend it to someone.

Peace!

Windows · by Zsolt Pardi (19) · 2004

Great as an intro to AD&D

The Good
When I first played BG, I had never before played an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game. The going was tough at first, but after much labouring, I began to enjoy this amazing game. The graphics are as good as they'd ever need to be, and the music is amazing. Obviously though, the greatest attraction to playing BG is that your own character can progress through an entire trilogy. You can watch as they become a great Sorcerer or Wizard - and the later volumes only get better!

The Bad
I guess trawling through the large areas can get a little boring. Also, starting the game as a mage can create a lot of difficulties.

The Bottom Line
It's Dungeons and Dragons expertly translated to the PC. Play it!

Windows · by emmamomocat (29) · 2004

A great RPG...definitely worth the price

The Good
The fantasy, D&D world was well placed in this game. Though I never played the D&D pen-and-paper games, this game was still a good experience for any RPG fan, though a bit confusing at first. I liked the fact that you could export your character and start a new game using your exported character. It had the same feel as New Game + in Chrono Trigger. The character interaction between members of your party was a nice touch...for instance, if you do a good deed, one of your party members may comment, "That was a noble deed." or they may even talk among themselves and verbally compliment one another based on your reputation. It added a kind of personal feel to the experience, rather than a bunch of people blindly following a leader around.

The Bad
Even though you level up, your characters don't become that powerful. This can be a good thing to some people and a not-so-good thing to other people. The spell system can be cumbersome to figure out the first time and I wish damage could be displayed (for weapons and spells) as actual amounts instead of dice rolls. I realize that D&D calculated damage using dice rolls, but it's confusing to read damage as 3d6 instead of 3-18.

The Bottom Line
A great RPG overall. Well worth the time and money spent on it.

Windows · by Wolfgang Abenteuer (4) · 2002

Great gameplay that doesn't last...

The Good
Simply put, one of the more reminescent AD&D games available. The graphics were one of the best for a RPG, sound was above average, and the story was well written and cohesive. Real-time/Turn based combat combination was well done.

The Bad
The game seemed bland as you went on, everything seemed more of the same thing. Chapters 6 & 7 did not add anything new from chapters 2 & 3 other than advancement of the story (thank goodness it was interesting). Not enough variety in sound, hearing the same phrases over and over can get annoying. Player AI was questionable, even when adjusting the scripts.

The Bottom Line
One of the best RPG to come out, period. Only Planescape: Torment and the Fallout games can be considered better. Brought life back to the world of AD&D.

Windows · by Chris Gordy (4) · 2000

One of the worst RPGs ever

The Good
Oh how much I wish I could love this game. Before the game was released I eagerly waited it hoping the world would see another oldschool RPG but alas, the result was big load of crap. At the first glimpse the game looks nice, it feels like any epic big RPG, you got a massive world you can walk in, you got many characters and such... the feeling is there. And the music is somewhat nice, although it's way too little of it. I guess that's all the good I can say.

The Bad
First of all... the D&D system. I hate it. When making characters, a player essentially presses reroll a thousand times to gain super stats. The element of race is very weak, and it just seems that Elves has more intelligence and stuff like that, which makes it far too specific. Any mage will automatically select an Elf because he's better with that kind of stuff, that's it, the selection of class controls which race you are. To me, it gives me the feeling that the race element isn't there, the advantages should either be removed (so that real roleplayers can select whatever race he likes to roleplay without thinking about disadvantages) or be non-specific (so that the race only slightly bends in that general direction the player wants to play). You never get the feeling you're growing since you gain levels so darn sloooooow, and there's almost no choices when rising in levels and the stats element is so weak, it just isn't fun. The D&D rules are obviously made for board playing where you have a single game you play for months and months, and this isn't the case with most games (unless you like playing games like Diablo with the same character over and over again in years.). The makers should play games like System Shock 2, Ultima Online, Ultima Underworld, which I personally think are very good examples of games with excellent RPG systems. Another bad thing about the D&D system... dices... most random elements is based on the single throw of a dice. This is a waste, computers are capable of doing extreme mathematical jobs, and combat is based on the throw of a dice??? For instance a game like Jagged Alliance 2 uses very advanced algorithms for calculating the trajectory of a bullet, as the end result the random element is very balanced. This is not the case in Baldur's Gate, you select an enemy and pray to god you hit. Okay, I'll stop with my bashing of the D&D system and actually go onto the game itself, the readers who like D&D system should just ignore this paragraph anyway.

The combat system is insanely simple, you can pause the action with spacebar, and you give limited orders to your characters. Basically almost in every fight you'll just want to click on your characters and click on the enemies and hope you win. There's little element of tactic or challenge... I hate the combat system. One thing which intrigued me at first in the game was the thief element, you go into houses at night and steal stuff... sadly, that element is weak, you essentially picklock the lock, go into and look into each drawer for anything worthwhile. There's no element of sneaking, or anything thief-like. I'm not sure how the element should be like, but anything else besides this anyway would do I guess. Anyway, after one breakin you're doomed to be bored with that.

The game takes 5 cds, and you feel like you're playing a game which is 15 years old when you needed to change diskette all the time... why? Why the heck did they do this? I'm not sure why it takes so many cds, there's not many cutscenes, there's not much spoken dialogue... the only logical solution is that every 2d background is stored like one gigantic bmp-alike file. Which would be simply stupid, since the backgrounds are simple and dull, and in that case why didn't they just go for a tilebased system? This is just a complete waste of space. And for those who don't have big enough harddrive to copy all the cds, be prepared to do a good deal of cd swapping.

The storyline is one big cliche and boring, there's little replayablity value since nothing is different the second time around, the sounds are nothing to brag about... the game is plainly dull.

The Bottom Line
The last line in my "bad" section sums it up nicely... dull, dull and dull. For those who like the D&D system and who like light RPGs with little to offer will perhaps like this game. Hardcore gamers should burn the game at sight. The funny thing is that the crappy engine has actually been used for one addon, two spinoff games, and even the sequel used the same engine, and they all use a massive amount of cds. A waste of space.

Windows · by Kate Jones (416) · 2001

A Good AD&D Computer Game

The Good
I'd been waiting for a good D&D game since the old "gold box" SSI games. Baldur's Gate delivered by making a pretty good campaign-adventure to play here (the expansion pack made it sweeter). I really liked how you are able to learn the controls and play of the game (which is all in real time) while in a relatively safe environment (the initial town).

The Bad
I didn't like some of the NPC's in the game but that's just personal taste. Also, I found that by the time I got my party powerful enough to enter the city of Baldur's Gate, I lost interest in the game. I've talked to a few others who said the same thing. I don't know why this happened unless I just got old. : )

The Bottom Line
Bottom line: this is a good D&D computer game using 2nd Edition rules.

Windows · by AstroNerdBoy (35) · 2001

Excellent game! Definitely worth it.

The Good
Baldur's Gate's plot is brilliant! The graphics are really good, especially considering the game's age, the gameplay is good, and it has a very user friendly interface. Overall it's a very good game.

The Bad
There were a couple things I didn't like. No matter how long you play, your character still remains pretty weak. I also didn't like the limitation on the number of people in your party, and the limitation on magic items.

The Bottom Line
This is a great game! I would recommend it.

Windows · by Dave Kbrana (1) · 2002

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Cantillon, Scaryfun, Alsy, Gonchi, jean-louis, Flapco, Klaster_1, Juan ArgaƱaraz, Plok, Riamus, COBRA-COBRETTI, Wizo, Longwalker, Marko Poutiainen, Kabushi, mo , eradix, Cavalary, lights out party, 666gonzo666, ti00rki, oct, Samuel Smith, gukker, Patrick Bregger, vedder.