Review by BulletBill22
The best of the PC RPGs
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (BG:TSC)
The Baldur's Gate series is a very successful series based on Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) rules. However, I have no experience with actual D&D, so my review is not founded at all on the grounds of understanding, but only the simple pleasure I received for playing it. It is also based largely on a multi-player experience.
The incredible draw to the story is that it doesn't fully reveal itself until late in the game. At first, your objective is simply to survive, as multiple bounty hunters attempt to kill you right off the bat. As you adventure, doing good and whatever else you decide to do through the millions (exaggerated) of side-quests, you find that the world is plagued with evil because of increased Bandit activity, tensions leading to war with the Southern (and apparently more civilized, as many a traveler from there will call you barbarian) of Amn, and horrible productivity of the Iron mines. Shortly, you save the mines, and kill the Bandits, then go to the city of Baldur's Gate. There, you find that the one who has been calling hits on you is actually the son of a dead God, the God of War, Bhaal. You also happen to be one of Bhaal's children. Now, Bhaal had many children, so that his power could only be assumed by a child when enough power was amassed by the death of his other children, which is the Sarevok's (evil mastermind) basis of obsession. Overall, though cliche, the storyline grabbed my attention right from the beginning, and was very interesting.
Game Play: 8/10
Where to begin... The battle sequences are incredibly complex. Trying to control 6 people at once without pausing is borderline insanity, or else a really good mouse and very fast thinking. But seriously, now, without pausing, it would be impossible to control all of your characters effectively. However, everything is very well thought out. Every stat is useful, every item ability can be utilized, every spell mastered. The battle sequences are actually fairly easy to understand once you realize that 6d8 means 6 eight-sided-dice. The out of battle actions, though, are what truly make the game a treasure. Having so many options in so many quests, it becomes difficult to keep track of it all sometimes (thank God for the journal). The main storyline quest has no variation, though which is a bit saddening. The side quests could take as long as the main quest because of their sheer size. One absolutely wonderful thing about the game is that grinding is really useless, nay, hardly an option at all. You get most of your experience from quests, though much of it can come from fighting.
One may wonder, "What is so good sounding that it deserves a 10?" Well, the answer is a few select music choices in this game. I have to be honest, I've sometimes let the game simply run so that I could hear the music while I was working. I can't stress enough how much I love the music. I would have boosted it to an 11, except that some of the fight music can get a little repetitive, and an 11 wouldn't really be a valid score, anyway.
Good, overall. The equipment screen shows what you are wearing in detail, so it is quite nice for that. The battle graphics and spell effects are exquisitely well done. The scenery is well thought-out and looks very nice. The only reason I mark this down is that the graphics sometimes glitch and cause a shield in your warriors hand to appear in front of him, and similar glitches. Nothing to really take away from the beauty, though.
Re Playability: 6/10
Not such a good score, I suppose. While the game is intriguing, There is very little variation in the storyline. Call me crazy, but it doesn't sound fun to play through that all multiple times. However, there is a great amount of fun in choosing your character. Indeed, I found that one of the funnest parts of the game was simply making my guy, although I realize most think that would be the most boring part. Never fear, I'm just a freak like that, the rest of the game is still good. There is also a huge amount of variation in the side-quests, so you have some options if you would like to play through again.
This game can take a while to complete, and requires 6 disks, so renting just seems ridiculous.
Noteworthy aspects which do not fall under any other category:
Multi-player is a real treat. As I noted earlier, there is a great amount of difficulty in controlling all your units at once without a pause button, but that all changes in multi-player. The interface makes it easy to control your own unit while your friends control the other characters in your party. With multi-player added in, re playability rises to  and game play rises to . If you have the option to play multi-player, then do it, I urge you. Otherwise, single player is fine as well.
Don't ask how I came to his conclusion, but that's how it ended up. Higher mathematics, you know. Simply adding and dividing will only get you so far in this world.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Baldur's Gate (US, 11/30/98)
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