B is for Baldur’s Gate

B

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper. [Visit here for links to participants.]

Game: Baldur’s Gate is a classic that reinvigorated the computer role-playing game and expanded the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

Release Date:  November 30, 1998

Developer: BioWare and Black Isle Studios

Genre/gameplay mechanics: RPG [role-playing game]; offline or online; single or multiplayer; top-down isometric god perspective; auto-applied Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition role-playing rules; party management; pausable real-time; moral choices rewarded.

Setting: Baldur’s Gate takes place in the fictional world of Ed Greenwood‘s Forgotten Realms setting. Focusing upon the western shoreline of Faerûn, within a region known as the Sword Coast.

Storytelling: Player takes the role of the ward of the mage Gorion and searches for ‘controllable’ AI allies to help them survive attacks, and then opts to investigate what is causing a deadly crisis. A strong storyline with cliff-hangers.

Releases + Expansions:

Sequels: four initial sequels/expansion packs – plus two unrelated Baldur’s Gate games in the same setting.

Remaster: In 2012, Beamdog began releasing the ‘improved’ remake of the original games, plus new content.

Formats: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1960s – Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&Dfantasy role-playing game. Created by game designer Ed Greenwood around 1967. He brought the setting to the D&D game as a series of magazine articles, and the first Realms game products were released in 1987.

Adaptations set in the Baldur’s Gate universe:

  1. Novel: Baldur’s Gate(1999) by Philip Athans was based on the game.

Recommendation: The game received critical praise, and was credited, along with Diablo, with revitalizing the computer RPG genre. Baldur’s Gate received positive reviews from virtually every major computer gaming publication that reviewed it.

BaldursGate_screen2

4 stars: On release, the setting and storytelling engrossed me – the landscape and characters felt more real than in many books. Playing the recent Enhanced Edition this year, the game felt dated in terms of graphics and mechanics, yet the storytelling was still fresh. So worth re-living.

  1. Setting: 4*
  2. Storyline: 5*
  3. Gameplay: 3.5*
  4. Entertainment: 4*
  5. Genesis: 3.5*

 

Alternative ‘B’ thoughts:

B is also for Blade Runner, the 1982 Ridley Scott film that spawned two games called Blade Runner – one in 1985 and another in 1997 – neither of which I’ve played. The film itself, one of my favourite films, was based on the great Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

+ ‘B’ Games played: Battle of the Immortals, and Black Desert Online.

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