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Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate

Dungeons And Dragons Fans Will Enjoy A Relief From The AD&D RPG Drought

by Elliott Chin

For years, Dungeons and Dragons fans could always turn to their computers for role-playing excursions courtesy of SSI. As the years progressed, though, SSI's games lost their magic, and TSR went shopping for a new partner in computer role-playing. It's been several long years, but TSR has at last found a new partner, and the first game to come of this liason could be one of the best in a long while.

Your adventure begins

Bioware, the designer of Shattered Steel, is designing the first Forgotten Realms CRPG in several years, called Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate, which Interplay will be publishing. The game takes place on the Sword Coast of Faerun after the Avatar crisis of the Forgotten Realms, and chronicles your amnesiac character's quest to discover his or her origin. This personal quest, though, will intersect with a larger quest to halt a dark plan to resurrect a fallen evil from before the Avatar crisis.

Bioware's employees are big Advanced Dungeons and Dragons fans, and are hoping to make the game very story-driven. Sidequests will abound, and the game's mysterious plot will unravel as you visit key locations and talk to NPCs.

The look of the game is third-person isometric, and will doubtless beg comparison to Blizzard's Diablo. Like many of the RPGs in this roundup, Baldur's Gate will feature impressive graphics, such as dynamic lighting and 16-bit color. There will also be special effects like fog and falling snow.

The combat, surprisingly, is real-time, despite the fact that the AD&D combat system is turn-based. Still, Bioware says that all the AD&D conventions, like Thac0 and die rolls, will be incorporated into the combat, though many of them will be invisible to the player. What you will see is a fifth-level fighter hitting more frequently than a first-level fighter. For the very seriously reflex-impaired, Bioware is adding a pause feature so you can stop combat, issue orders, and then unpause the game.

Dungeons and Dragons returns

As an AD&D game, Baldur's Gate will allow you to choose from among the many familiar character classes and races to create your onscreen persona. You only play one character, but his or her makeup can be customized. You can be an elf, dwarf, halfling, fighter or mage. You can also be a multi- or dual-class character. As a low to mid-level adventure, Baldur's Gate will allow character progression to a maximum of sixth level. Sequels will allow you to import your character and advance to higher levels.

Don't worry about going solo in your AD&D quest, though. NPCs will join you and form a party. You'll be able to control them in battle, but they will also have their own interests and goals. In fact, some of your party members may fight amongst themselves depending on yours and their alignment.

Unlike in previous AD&D CRPGs, alignment will matter in Baldur's Gate. Rather than forcing you to adhere to your chosen alignment, Bioware will have your alignment reflect your actions. That alignment will also affect your meetings with NPCs and monsters.

Like any good RPG, Baldur's Gate will also feature lots of spells, magic items, and monsters, though Bioware will have the advantage of drawing from the rich AD&D rule books for all those things.

Let's hope that the rich background of the Forgotten Realms universe and the passion of the Bioware team can create an AD&D role-playing game that will rival, or even surpass, the old gold box adventures of years past.

  • This Bioware's first RPG, but it could be one of the better ones in this roundup. It is based of the hugely-popular Forgotten Realms AD&D universe, and promises classic AD&D character generation and advancement and a rich storyline with some interesting plot twists.
  • Single-player
  • Traditional RPG

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Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate

Target Release Date:
Fourth quarter 1997

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