Review by DragonClaw01

Reviewed: 05/29/09

Dungeons and Gnolls.

Baldur's Gate 1 released by Bioware in 1998 was one of the key players in the revival of the RPG genre on the PC. Integrating the Dungeon and Dragons 2.0 ruleset in a real time strategy engine the game sounded destined for failure. Thankfully that was not true and Baldur's gate one is a good game with some flaws especially compared to later Bioware Games.

Graphics: One of the hyped of features of Baldurs Gate was that the maps would be drawn by hand instead of being built by tiles, which would alleviate the visual repetition of many other adventure games. Although this does create some varied environments there are just too many forest maps. These Forrest areas often have very little variation and maybe one point of interest, so some of these environments will feel too familiar after awhile. Still despite this weakness the areas that are not forests are simply amazing with gigantic castles, weird magical artifacts and a corpse infested sewers. Another cool feature of the graphics is that the artists of Baldur's gate did a good job drawing differences in elevation, which is very hard to do in isometric format. This allows for long spiral stair cases and huge waterfalls, which is rare for isometric RPGs of its time.-8

Sound: The soundtracks are nice and powerful and get one in the adventuring mood ,but are limited and not as good as other Bioware games soundtracks in my opinion. The sounds consist of chants for spells and bow and arrow sounds,which are merely . The voice acting is very well done and it never gets old hearing your NPC yell on top of their lungs “Better Part of Valor!!” after they fail their moral check and run for their lives. The Characters are all very different too from the insane, do-gooder, warrior Minsc who talks about his “giant space hamster” on a daily basis to the Cowardly Khailid, who is constantly stumbling to talk correctly. The characters say a quote when you click on them or when anything of interest happens, like they get a critical hit. The only problem is that there is not enough dialog, which may be a blessing to some people because they like to visualize a characters voice in text.-7

Story: The story is the best of any Baldurs gate game. You find your teacher murdered in cold blood trying to protect you. Someone wants you dead and hes powerful enough to send assassins in masses to try and kill you. You must gather allies and investigate the troubles of the region and whether they have anything to do with the man that killed your teacher. I always enjoyed plot lines that involved investigations and this one is no different. There are a few branches in the storyline that allow you to solve things different ways. For instance you may choose to try and join the bandits that plague the region to get access to their leader peacefully or get some directions to the bandit camp and slash your way to the leader violently. You are also dealing with and will eventually confront a very powerful organization who's leader will sacrifice anything for power, which is much better than the sequel's trying to get your soul back story. Another thing I like is how the world seems to change around you as you deal with this powerful organization and at one point you must avoid the guards of the cities because you have been framed. These little details add much to the story. Furthermore the game is completely open ended even more so than baldur's gate 2 and you can just explore the land doing heroic deeds completely neglect the story.-8

Game play: The game play is very fun, but has a few flaws which could have been easily fixed. The Game is a low level Dungeons and Dragons adventure, which is a turn off for many people because your characters can not take much damage and you do not have much spells for magic based characters. This is not a weakness though because it gives the game a character and style that not many fantasy games have. The game is much more tactical because one must pick their fights wisely and save tough enemies for later. This is further compounded by assassins trying to hunt you down, which makes scouting very important. This makes the beginning very tough, but adds a huge sense of accomplishment when your once weak warriors can now tank effectively after a few levels and cool gear. In-fact the Armor Class, Thaco and careful use of scouting and spells are even more vital to survival in this game than it sequel . The part that Baldur's Gate 1 fails at is the side quests. Many of the quests could be described as the fetch quests from hell. There is often little direction as to were the item or enemy may be located and only by exploring the big empty maps may one find the item the quest person is seeking. To be fair the quests in the town of Baldur's Gate are much better in term of quests and rewards, but that is only near the end of the game. To fix the tedious quests at the beginning of the game the designers could of given better directions than “south-east” and possibly more dungeon crawling quests, which the game seems to be lacking. My Final Complaint about the game is that most levels feel empty. Most areas in the game are huge and although they often contain many secrets, going through the game the first time one will feel like not much is getting accomplished. I also disliked that often one has to go through four screens of boring Forrest to get to a certain location such as the Gnoll fortress. Empty areas with very little to do other than fight a few weak enemies should not be in a game like Baldur's gate 1. In fact in Baldur's gate 2 the developers downsized the amount of areas of game, but made them full of all kinds of quests and people to meet, which improved the game significantly.-7

Conclusion: Baldur's Gate is a fun RPG and should be tried if you enjoy RPGs or other Baldur's Gate Titles. Thanks for reading! - 8

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Baldur's Gate (US, 11/30/98)

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