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- Windows 95/98
- Pentium 166
- 16MB RAM
- DirectX certified video w/ 2MB
- DirectX certified sound card
- 4x CD-ROM
- Windows 98
- AMD K6-2 350
- 128MB RAM
- 16MB Quantum3D Raven
- Aureal A3D Interactive 360° Positional Sound
- 32X CD-ROM
- P200MMX or Higher
- 32MB RAM
- DirectX certified video w/ 4MB
- DirectX Compatible Sound Card
- 8X CD-ROM
I'd say I started playing Dungeons and Dragons back in 1985. A group of friends and I
would camp out in the
woods behind my apartment complex and play all night long. I've been playing pretty
steadily since then, and
I can honestly say I've invested at least 2,000 dollars in the game over the years. I am
searching for copies of the cartoon (remember Uni?) on video. I have every novel, have
played every computer
D&D game that's come out, and I own at least 20lbs of dice.
D&D (or more correctly AD&D) is one of my greatest passions, right up there with
videogames, good Italian food, and my
wife (though not necessarily in that order.) That having been said, believe me when I say
that Baldur's Gate
is the best AD&D videogame yet to have been released.
Baldur's gate, developed by Bioware, plays like tabletop AD&D with very animated
smoke or potty breaks between rounds, and no waiting for the Dungeon Master to finish up
reading the module in the
bathroom before you can start. Everything else is by the book, and by that I mean all the
rules are here.
Encumbrance, THAC0 (to hit armor class 0), fumbled hits, thieving skills, weapon
proficiencies, random treasure
generation; if it's a rule in the DM or Players' guide, then it's a good bet it made it into the
It is, but not to the gamer. All of these calculations and effects take place behind the scenes.
If you fumble
and break your weapon, the game will tell you. If you carry more than your strength allows
you will have
serious trouble keeping up with your party. If you fail your saving throw against
petrification, the lesser
basilisk will kill you dead. The end result is very satisfying. You can't almost hear the dice
rolls going on and you may even catch a whiff
of unwashed fanboys enjoying themselves.
The story is classic fantasy material. Your
initial character is
a mysterious orphan, raised by a loving foster father in the city of Candlekeep. Everything is
lovely and peaceful until one
day, when murderers start showing up hungry for your blood, and your father asks you to
the city with
him under cover of the night. You of course agree, fleeing with him only to be attacked on
the road outside
town, resulting in the tragic death of the man who was the only family you ever knew.
Tired, frightened, and alone,
you set off to find the truth behind your life and his death. Thus begins your epic
As you travel you'll meet
some very interesting characters. There is a doom and gloom speaking mage, a druidess
who often addresses
the player as "Oh omnipresent one", and a Ranger whose sidekick is a miniature giant space
hamster named Boo. And these
are just the characters you can play. Bioware has populated the Forgotten Realms with
familiar faces like
Elminster the Archmage and Drizzt Do’Urden the Drow ranger. If you've read the books
you'll notice familiar concepts too, like
the elven mage you can have join your party who is bonded to his hereditary Moonblade.
The game incorporates many features from other popular games. The perspective is Diablo.
The point and
click commands reminded me of Warcraft and other games of that ilk. Basically you control
your character and
up to 5 others as a group or singularly. You pick actions using shortcut keys or handy icons
on the display, and
the characters follow the instructions. Do you have all characters attack at once, or do you
let a few hang
back in case of ambush, throw some big fighter into the fray and have your thief circle
around for a backstab?
Do you want to control all characters yourself or pick from several behavior archetypes?
Paper or plastic? That's the beauty of the game. There are so many things to do and so many
ways to do them, so gameplay
never gets dull or repetitive.
The game's presentation is very solid. The menus are mainly icon driven and easy to
the "paper doll" style inventory screen where you can drop equipment, armor, weapons, and
even quick-access spells
onto your characters to prepare them for battle. On the main screen you have a large
playfield area, with the
areas you have not visited blacked-out (love that feature). Each character has a set of quick
that appear along the bottom of the screen when they are selected. Here you can place
magic scrolls, wands, potions, or special abilities like turning undead or laying hands.
Everything you need
is right at your fingertips thanks to the intuitive interface.
The detailed graphics of Baldur’s Gate are nothing short of amazing. Each map
location is almost
like a painting, with a look and feel that balances technical skill with artistic flair. While
enough to satisfy most critics, the developers add day and night effects as well as snow and
rain, complete with
lightning lighting up the screen. Your characters and
other NPC's not only look great but animate smoothly. The fact that your characters' looks
change with their
equipment is a very nice touch. Monsters are menacingly portrayed, from the tiny kobold to
hill giants and
beyond. Baldur's Gate also has its fair share of special effects, most notably the spells that
spring to life
from their caster's hands in brilliant flashes of light and color and sound. Just like I used to
Adding to the ambiance is the soundtrack, consisting of tunes as epic as
the adventure it accompanies.
Pounding music meets the clash of weapons in battle while underlying menace can be heard
in the dungeon dirges. The sound effects add to the
environment nicely, bringing not only the clang of swordplay and the growl of the beast, but
also the ambient noise of the realms, like
crickets chirping at night or the murmurs from a crowded tavern. Rounding out the sound
portion of our review are the voices,
which manage to avoid being cheesy while adding some (much needed at times) comic
relief. You may lose bladder control
the first time the insane ranger yells, "Go for the eyes Boo! GO FOR THE EYES!"
multiplayer play consists of
the same storyline as the main game, but instead of one player controlling 6 characters, up to
6 people can play at
a time, each controlling their own character. Almost like sitting around the old gaming
table. If you get a good
group together it almost doesn't get any better than this. As with every game of its type,
beware of the
few bad apples out there who want the money from your pouch and the experience from
Now to be fair I did have a few problems with Baldur's Gate. The install was the main
issue. Unless you have room
for the full install you will have to swap between the 5 CDs frequently. Oh, and the full
install is 2.5GB. Yes, times
are a'changing. I also had some trouble with slowdown during some of the more "Ten
Commandment" sized battles, but not
enough to ruin my overall enjoyment of the game.
After playing Baldur's Gate for several days I have still not seen everything. The game is
huge and every inch
is more interesting than the last. I have to say it's about damn time someone truly captured
the essence of AD&D in
a computer game. Bioware has done it, and with the promise of further expansions (read:
modules!) for this masterpiece,
Baldur's Gate will keep you going for a long time coming. Just remember to eat and bathe,
||Beautifully landscapes clash with horrible
creatures. The attention to
detail is unsurpassed.
||The is AD&D, without the hassles of playing
it live. Intuitive and
||The music draws you further into the world
as do the sound effects. Voices
are well acted as well as humorous.
||A little off here because you can see the influence of other
great games in the makeup of
Baldur's Gate, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
||The main quest is huge and involving. Then there's
multiplayer. Then the promise
of additional adventures to come. Yeah baby.
||Forget about all the other Dungeons & Dragons titles. This is
the big one. Baldur's Gate is
a game any RPG lover, tabletop or PC, needs to have.