Butt-Kicking, For Goodness!
By Dwip November 27, 2005, 11:52 am Comments Off on Butt-Kicking, For Goodness! RSS Feed for this post

Because Minsc rocks, Boo rocks, and we all know it.

We haven’t had a good CRPG post around here in a while, and I’ve been ranting about the Baldur’s Gate games for a while now, so let us just hark back to the days of yore and do so, since I just got done taking Ergos and party through the trilogy.

Some of you have wondered about my sad devotion to those ancient games (BG1 dates to 1998), which I have attempted to answer, and never quite got out. So let us attempt once more.

It’s easier to talk about what the original Baldur’s Gate did wrong rather than what it did right, because it got an awful lot right. And most of what it got wrong is excusable by the standards of the time. 2nd Edition AD&D rules? Well, 3e didn’t exist yet, so what else are you going to make a D&D game with? Dinosauric 640×480 resolution? Well, we can fault them for that, I guess. About my only other complaints involve horrific slow walking speeds (very annoying now, not so much then), and maybe a bit TOO much random outdoor exploration. All very serious, I’m sure you agree.

On the other hand, it’s a game that looks good and sounds good (barely at 640×480), even now. It has a most excellent story, pretty good tactical combat, and for the most part is challenging without being highly annoying, unlike, say, Diablo II. You can have up to 5 NPCs in your party besides yourself, and since the AD&D rules allow you to be a lot of things, and there on order of 20 NPCs to choose from…I’ve played through, with a party, almost 5 times, and there are still NPCs I’ve never touched. There are enough quests and things that even now I still find new things I didn’t know about.

So, Baldur’s Gate II. It’s like if you took everything that BG1 did right, fixed all the little things it did wrong, and then made it even better. The story is awesome. The gameplay, the fights, the challenges? Awesome. In 800×600 even 2d games can look fantastic. And then there’s that little thing, which no other game before or since has done quite so well, and that’s the party system. Almost as many NPCs as BG1, still with that limit of 5, except this time, each and every single one of them has quests attached to them, they talk to you, they talk to each other, they romance you, they romance each other, they disagree with your actions, and if you annoy them they will fight you or leave. It’s maybe the most amazing thing an RPG has ever done.

Throne of Bhaal is easily the weakest of the three. It’s an xpack to BG2, in the first place. In the second, it’s straight out of a 14 y/o power gaming munchkin’s fantasies. A certain part of that is needed, considering the plot, but when you need +3 weapons to show up for somebody’s army, well. But then the plot hooks you once again, and you’re pretty much done with real life for a time. Because the mark of a good RPG is if, when the question is asked “Will, if I play this game, put the rest of my life on hold to experience it?” the answer comes back as “Yes.” Except in this case it’s more like “Hell yeah!”

Having said all that, the other neatest thing I love about the series, which is almost as awesome as the party interaction? You can play through the whole thing with 1 character. 3 games, 4 years apart in real time. I can start off at level 1 in BG1, and end up at level 30+ in ToB. Sure, you could ignore BG1 and start a character in BG2 or ToB, but why would you want to? But why would you want to, when you can start in BG1, and follow your character through the entire story? It’s a thing of greatness, I tell you.


Computer Games - Baldur's Gate Series Comments Off on Butt-Kicking, For Goodness! RSS Feed for this post
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