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Baldur's Gate
BG BoxAlthough only two years old, Baldur's Gate can already be considered a classic among computer games. Two years ago, the genre of role-playing games was virtually beyond help, while strategy and action games dominated the market. RPGs were thought a too lenghty and costly matter to be produced with the faint hope of success. And even gamers seemed to prefer the above-mentioned games to boring RPGs. Thus, there was nearly no one who believed that the situation was about to end, well, until Bioware / Black Isle released Baldur's Gate in 1998. The gaming press was euphoric about the game (as were the gamers) and within a short period of time, Baldur's Gate turned out to be a full-blown (commercial) success.
 
The resurrection of AD&D:
TavernBaldur's Gate had everything a good RPG might ask for. The game was based on the popular "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" rules and was set in the likewise popular "Forgotten Realms" (as some sort of small highlight you encountered Drizzt Do'Urden, protagonist in many of R.A. Salvatore's books, in the course of the game but weren't allowed to hire him). Many readers and pen & paper players were therefore familiar with the scenario. But the game didn't stop there: an epic story and gorgeous graphics provided the much-needed innovations for the genre.
The mysterious occurences taking place at the Sword Coast captured the player's attention right away: why was there a sudden lack of iron? What had become of the recent shipments of iron ore from the south? Why had the iron ore from the neighbouring country Amn lost all its former quality? Could it be a cunning plot? Who was responsible for the hideous murder of our tutor mage Gorion? And who in all the Nine Hells had attempted to put an end to our lives? These (and more) questions had to be answered in the course of seven chapters, interspersed with several subquests.
 
Teeming Sword Coast:
Magician's homeBut before all these problems were unraveled, a whole world had to be explored, including the impressive and far-flung town of Baldur's Gate itself for the showdown. The game was made up of approximately 10,000 beautifully rendered screens. The sheer number of details helped to dismiss the fact as irrelevant that the background graphics were static. Moreover, the game featured nice weather and lighting effects. Of exquisite quality was the background music, ranging from soft tunes to orchestral melodies. Also the gameplay was thoroughly convincing, since Baldur's Gate combined a modern interface with classic AD&D rules. Convenient character management, a playability similar to strategy games, as well as complex real-time battles that could be paused for instructions are only a few examples. By making use of the large world map, you could easily direct your party, consisting of up to six heroes, from one area to another, while an automap helped you keep your bearings both in huge territories above ground and in the numerous dungeons, taverns or even brothels.
Details:
Producer:
Bioware,
Black Isle

Released:
In 1998

Nostalgia:
very high

System:
Windows

Playable?
of course

Available?
Low budget

Links:
BGChronicles
BGate 2
The Gate to success:
World mapThe game's success managed to surprise even its creators, since no one had dared to hope for such a resurrection of the RPG genre. For months, the game held its top position in the charts and can still be purchased as a low budget title today. However, the mission disc Tales of the Sword Coast, published soon afterwards, didn't come up to the high expectations and introduced only a few novelties. All that is to change, of course, with the arrival of its highly anticipated sequel, Baldur's Gate 2, in September 2000.
 
Ray Muzyka:
Also Bioware's head and lead designer Ray Muzyka became known to industry and gamers virtually overnight. Originally, Bioware (as the name indicates) had developed medical programs, but with titles such as Shattered Steel it focused its efforts on the gaming industry. It was Baldur's Gate that helped the company to make it to the top. At the moment, Ray Muzyka and his team are industriously working on the second installment. So expect to hear more of Bioware in the months ahead.
© 2000 by CE

 
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