PC GAMER (UK) - - Feature -

Bal­dur’s Gate beck­oned play­ers in with beau­ti­ful graph­ics, a heavy fo­cus on story, and some of the genre’s most beloved char­ac­ters. It looked fan­tas­tic, thanks to the In­fin­ity En­gine’s method of dis­play­ing worlds. Huge ren­dered maps with over­laid sprites al­lowed for ex­quis­ite de­tail with­out the pre­dictabil­ity of tiles. It wasn’t just D&D re­born, but a new start for the genre. RPGs were fi­nally cool again. Re­played now, it’s the com­plex­ity that jumps out. Bal­dur’s Gate was based on AD&D Sec­ond Edi­tion, and it doesn’t hide the fact. It wants you to know its dice rolls. It wants you to know terms like THAC0 (“To Hit Ar­mour Class Zero,” aka, the like­li­ness of a hit land­ing). It of­ten pushes you to ar­eas you’re not ready for. Roll a mage and wan­der to the first real fight in the game – an am­bush at the Friendly Arms Inn – and watch as a sin­gle hit lands like an anvil to the face.

It was still an RPG of its time, rooted, for all its at­tempts to wel­come new play­ers, in the de­signs of the past. It was BioWare’s first RPG, and the com­pany hadn’t even formed with a plan to make them. The founders had in­tended to start a med­i­cal soft­ware com­pany, be­fore de­cid­ing games would be more fun. Pre­vi­ous re­leases were mech game Shat­tered Steel and com­edy shooter MDK 2. Even In­ter­play, the pub­lisher, had only mod­er­ate hopes for Bal­dur’s Gate. Two mil­lion copies later, BioWare was the new cool kid in town.

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