|Publisher(s)||Black Isle Studios/Interplay|
|Designer(s)||Ray Muzyka (director)|
|Series||Baldur's Gate series|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Macintosh|
|Release date(s)||30 November 1998|
|Genre(s)||Computer role-playing game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
|Rating(s)|| ESRB: T (Teen)|
|Media||5 CD-ROMs, 3 CD-ROMs, 1 DVD|
|System requirements||166 MHz CPU, 16 MB RAM, 2 MB video card RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, DirectX 5.0, 300 MB available hard disk space, Windows 95|
|Input methods||Keyboard, mouse|
Baldur's Gate is a computer role-playing game in a high fantasy setting, developed by BioWare and released in 1998 by Interplay Entertainment. It is widely regarded as one of the premier single-player titles in the history of the computer role-playing genre.
The story follows the player character as he or she grows up following the cataclysmic Time of Troubles, and it puts an emphasis on character development through dialogue and battle. The game rewards the player character according to his or her moral choices, in the spirit of the game's opening quotation, credited to Friedrich Nietzsche:
|“||He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster... when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you...||”|
The game was programmed within the licensed ruleset of the Forgotten Realms role-playing setting, using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition rules, though various elements from the ruleset were modified to allow the game to be executed in real-time. Each character is in constant action, while the game can be paused at any time. The game is separated into seven chapters intercut with interludes of spoken dialogue. Free exploration of the world map is allowed in every chapter, though some areas are not unlocked before the player character advances to a certain point in the game. The player begins as a weak character, poorly equipped and without allies. As they progress through the game, players will discover new and more powerful weapons, armor, and spells, and can form a party of up to six characters, including the player character. Experience points, gained through completing quests and killing monsters, improve the abilities of the main character and other party members.
The western shore of Faerûn along the Sea of Swords contains a multitude of ecologies and terrain including mountains, forests, swamps, marshes, plains, cities, and ruins. Collectively called the Sword Coast, it attracts adventurers for good and evil alike, and provides the backdrop for this epic and grand adventure. The region encompassed by this game is roughly bordered to the South by the Cloud Peaks, the East by the Wood of Sharp Teeth, the West by the Sea of Swords, and the North by Baldur's Gate (the largest and most affluent city in the region). The characters travel the countryside, exploring the various areas such as towns, dungeons, mines, forests, castle ruins, and the city of Baldur's Gate. The main story involves the characters investigating a conspiracy, confronting the clandestine plots of organizations like the Zhentarim, Red Wizards of Thay, The Iron Throne, Flaming Fist, The Chill, The Black Talons, and the Harpers, as well as finding out the main character's own ancestry and history.
|Cadderly||Human||Priest of Deneir||Neutral Good||Hamilton Camp|
|Drizzt Do'Urden||Drow||Ranger||Chaotic Good||Jeff Bennett|
|Duke Belt||Human||Fighter||Chaotic Neutral||Brian George|
|Duke Eltan||Human||Fighter||Lawful Good||Frank Welker|
|Elminster||Human||Mage||Chaotic Good||Frank Welker|
|Entar Silvershield||Human||Fighter||Lawful Good||?|
|Kelddath Ormlyr||Human||Priest of Lathander||Neutral Good||?|
|Liia Jannath||Human||Mage||Lawful Good||Jennifer Hale|
|Tethoril||Human||Priest of Mystra||Lawful Good||Hamilton Camp|
|Thalantyr||Human||Conjurer||Neutral Good||Earl Boen|
|Volothamp||Human||Bard||Neutral Good||Rob Paulsen|
The Baldur's Gate seriesEdit
Baldur's Gate was the first game in the Baldur's Gate series, which spawned a further three software titles before the story arc was concluded. It was immediately followed by the expansion pack Tales of the Sword Coast (1999), as well as the sequel Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) and its expansion pack Throne of Bhaal (2001). A three CD version, Baldur's Gate: The Original Saga, which includes the original game and expansion, was released in 2002. Sega planned to port the game to its Dreamcast console, but the project was canceled. A PlayStation port was also in development but, like the Dreamcast version, this was also cancelled. Atari recently released the Baldur's Gate 4 in 1 Boxset including Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, and Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal on a combination of DVDs and CDs.
The player character and his/her friend Imoen have grown up together since childhood under the tutelage of their guardian, the mage Gorion. As orphans, they were raised in Candlekeep, an ancient fortress-turned-library in the rural Sword Coast region, which lies south of the city of Baldur's Gate. However, strange things are afoot on the Sword Coast: iron production has virtually halted, metal already produced quickly crumbles, and bandits scour the countryside hunting iron over any other treasure. Strangest of all, even inside the secure walls of Candlekeep, there are mercenaries with designs on the main character's life. Gorion knows what is going on, but will not tell the player character, and instead decides to leave Candlekeep and journey with the player character to a hiding place. However, the night after leaving Candlekeep, they are ambushed by a group of bandits led by a mysterious "armored figure" who kills Gorion when he refuses to hand over the player character, who flees into the night. The player character soon runs into Imoen, who had been following in secret after reading a note about the journey on Gorion's desk. She too saw Gorion's murder, and now insists on accompanying the character.
The nearest cities are closed to the player: Candlekeep demands a unique, valuable book as its admission fee, and the city of Baldur's Gate is closed off to outsiders for fear of the bandit hordes. Seeking safety, the player character teams up with other adventurers, and soon he or she sets out to find the cause of the iron shortage by traveling to the source of the iron, the mines of Nashkel, and in doing so begins to unearth a deeper conspiracy. Kobolds have been contaminating the iron in the mine, and documents at the Nashkel mine connect the mine operation with the iron-hunting bandits, and ultimately leads the main character to the secret campsite of the bandits, who appear to be mobilized mercenary companies employed by the Iron Throne, a mysterious organization, who is aggressively expanding its influence. The Iron Throne intends to gain control of the Sword Coast by diverting the iron supply to its own armies exclusively, and stockpiling all plundered iron at the only working iron mine in the region, deep in the Cloakwood forest. As the main character sabotages the mercenary installation in the Cloakwood mines, the pressure on Baldur's Gate is relieved enough for the city to be re-opened for outsiders, and the player character can confront the local Iron Throne's head quarters.
At Baldur's Gate, the player character is enrolled by the Flaming Fist city guard to investigate the Iron Throne, but as no damning evidence is to be found, the player character returns to Candlekeep to spy on a meeting of the Iron Throne leaders. Much has changed in Candlekeep since the player character left, and it is soon discovered that the fortress has at least partially been taken over by Doppelgängers. The player character also encounters a mysterious man named Koveras, soon after leaving Koveras, the player character is charged with the murder of the Iron Throne leaders (who, surprisingly, have been killed), the only route of escape is through the catacombs below the monastery. The player character manages escape the catacombs, and returns to Baldur's Gate. But things only get worse, as the player is framed for the murder of a Flaming Fist officer and must stay hidden as the player character works to uncover the truth and finally uncovers grand scheme masterminded by the "armored figure," Sarevok. Seeking to confront him, the characters find out that he is actually half-brother to the main character, both of whom are children of the dead god of murder, Bhaal. The main character's Bhaalspawn ancestry explains much about their past and raises questions about their future. Sarevok's plans turn out be much more sinister, as the Iron Throne is just a façade for his real intentions. Through manipulation of politics and resources, Sarevok plans to start a war of sacrifice between Baldur's Gate and the kingdom of Amn to the south, causing enough carnage to become the new Lord of Murder. In the end you defeat your brother Sarevok, and send his tainted soul back to Bhaal.
Baldur's Gate received positive reviews from virtually every major computer gaming publication that reviewed the game. The lowest score from a major review was 4/5 from Computer Gaming World; the editors would lament in a later issue that this score was embarrassingly low, and remarked that the reviewer in question must have had "an axe to grind."
Some have even claimed that Baldur's Gate revived the computer role-playing game (CRPG) genre,, which was struggling at the time. While other games had already rekindled interest in the CRPG genre, notably Fallout in 1997 and the action-oriented Diablo in 1996 (which has sold 2.5 million copies), the praise for Baldur's Gate is particularly significant because of its successful implementation of AD&D rules into a video game.
The success of the game spawned an expansion pack, a sequel, and a separate spin-off series. It also set the standard for other games using AD&D rules, especially those developed by BioWare and Black Isle Studios: Planescape: Torment (1999), Icewind Dale (2000), and Icewind Dale II (2002).
Although the game was highly lauded by reviewers upon release, there were a number of small problems that were encountered during gameplay. A major issue with the initial version was poor pathfinding AI, although BioWare soon released a patch which offered a slight improvement. The path finding has been improved by a factor of 100 since release, from the 4000 search nodes of the initial release, to 400,000 search nodes with the expansion pack.
The game's graphics, although considered the best at the time for an isometric game, are restricted to a display resolution of 640x480, making it difficult to read text or appreciate small graphical details when a modern computer screen is used (see native resolution). A fan-made patch that fixes this, allowing the game to run at higher resolutions (including widescreen resolutions), has since been released. The fan-based mods BG1Tutu and Baldur's Gate Trilogy offer an alternate solution for this problem by using the Baldur's Gate II engine to play Baldur's Gate.
Dungeons & Dragons fans also criticized the game for making alterations to the AD&D rules.
- Producer: Ray Muzyka
- Co-Exec Producers: Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
- Lead Designer: James Ohlen
- Design: Rob Bartel, Ross Gardner, Scott Greig, Matt Horvath, Lukas Kristjanson, Ray Muzyka, James Ohlen
- Lead Programming: Scott Greig
- Graphics/3D Programming: Gilles Beauparlant
- Music/Sound Programming: John Winski
- Writing/Dialogue/Story: Rob Bartel, Matt Horvath, Lukas Kristjanson, James Ohlen
- (1998) Baldur's Gate game manual.
- Official site at BioWare
- Baldur's Gate at MobyGames.
- Baldur's Gate Modlist
- Baldur's Gate at The PlayStation Museum, preview of the cancelled PlayStation version.
- Baldurs Gate PSX, footage of the cancelled Playstation version.
- Baldurs Gate PSX, In-game footage of the cancelled Playstation version.
- Installer for Linux so that playing under WINE is possible.
- EasyTutu, for an alternative distribution modification of Baldur's Gate that allows running the game with Baldur's Gate 2's engine.
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