Baldur's Gate
Finding a remedy for iron-poor blood
by Cindy Yans
Interplay
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Part 1 - What a character
Part 2 - It's real-time? Stop the clock!
Part 3 - How many stars for ambiance?
Part 4 - Multiplayer game versus multiplayer world

Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades and Pools of Darkness - if you go back that far in the history of TSR-licensed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons products, you probably have a pair of dice and a Dungeon Master or two under your belt. Perhaps you whip them out on occasion and still undertake AD&D as a table game. You are a purist. You know your AD&D. You know the difference between a gibberling and a kobald. If you recognize yourself, then This Bud's For You.

Shot One "This game is going to be the best AD&D game ever made for the PC," says Ray Muzyka, designer and founder of Bioware and head of their Forgotten Realms division. Muzyka has what may prove to be a lot to crow about in Baldur's Gate, a wildly anticipated RPG that should whoosh onto shelves by second quarter 1998.

Bioware was founded 1995 by Muzyka and his two partners, Greg Zeschuk and Aug Yip. All three are licensed physicians, but so addicted to games that they choose to lay down their stethoscopes during a good deal of their time and devote it to making games the way they would like to see them done. The rest of the time they perform organ transplants on Druids and Clerics. With Baldur's Gate on the way, it's only a matter of time before the good doctors stop making house calls.

Shipping on five CDs, Baldur's Gate takes place in the (not so) Forgotten Realms, where many of TSR's AD&D scenarios are set. The Sword Coast stretches from north to south along the main continent, and along it lie Amn, the Wood of Sharp Teeth, and Baldur's Gate, the largest city in the region. One of the area's greatest resources, its iron, begins to dwindle. Roving bands of renegades are stealing and hoarding it, and existing supplies of ore are tainted. Weapon supplies are threatened. Farming and crafting are suffering. Hence, the very existence of the denizens of Baldur's Gate is in danger. This iron crisis may be precursor to a greater evil, and instead of relying on Geritol, the Realms are relying on you to settle the unrest.

Shot Two What a character
You begin with one character who can be generated using any of the races, classes, and alignments AD&D has to offer. Be a dwarf, elf, human, or halfing and choose among fighter, bard, thief, cleric, druid, mage, ranger, paladin, plus a number of multi-class others (keeping in mind that not all races may become all classes). You are an orphan; raised in the monk fortress of CandleKeep, you have a lot to learn about your heritage and destiny. Twenty-four possible additions to your party exist throughout the land, and you may invite them to join you when you meet them.

These NPCs will have their own AI scripting, which determines their general behavior in basic situations. Scripts will be modifiable to some extent, so that the player can customize personalities and behaviors. You may shout, "No way!" (being burned out from micromanaging real-time strategy resource collectors), and that's OK, because the built-in scripts should be perfectly acceptable. Or you can choose broad attributes with which to customize, such as "aggressive," "cautious," "agoraphobic." Finally, you may choose to go the gamut, creating specific reactions: "If enemy is Kissing Bandit, strum guitar three times the level of your charisma, hit him over the head and shout, 'El Kabong!'"

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©1997 Strategy Plus, Inc.

Baldur's Gate (AD&D Forgotten Realms) Windows 95 IBM CD ROM 12/98 $24.95