Baldur’s Gate – A 16 year old game stands up to the test of time, and it’s co-op!
Now there’s a few things you should know about Baldur’s Gate. The game was originally released in 1998. I played it while I was in high school my senior year. It introduced a LOT of new people to Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a 3rd person isometric RPG in which you control all members of your party. It’s paused based(instead of turn based), which means that when combat starts, you pause, issue commands, unpause, wait for something to happen, pause again, issue commands, etc, etc. There are lots of games with that type of system now, but as far as I know, BG was the first.
So the way you’re
supposed to play it solo is to create one character and go along recruiting AI NPCs to join your party of up to six. Well you can get around all that by playing in multiplayer mode by yourself. Multiplayer mode lets you create all six party members and tweak them to your desire. You can also export/import different characters at any time. You can easily get away with this from an RP perspective by saving your game in an inn and swapping party members in and out saying “Oh I met this guy at this inn”. So to start with, I created my own party of 3: Human Fighter(me), Paladin, and Cleric, then I pick up NPCs along the way. Not completely satisfied with the NPCs in game, I finished the game with 5/6 party members self generated, and only one in-game NPC. If you enjoy character creation and tweaking things and micromanaging party members, gear, stats, and other RPG elements, this game is definately for you.
Lets talk about the story. This is where the game really drew a lot of people in. For those of you that have already played, you know what I’m talking about. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone that may play the game in the future(even if it IS 16 years old), but it’s a great, great story that lets you choose your own path. Of course my path is that of the good soldier fighting for… well… good. But if you enjoy the darker side of things, it’s always allowed, which a lot of games give you trouble doing. You can lie, cheat, steal, and murder and still complete the game.
Oftentimes now that I’m in my 3rd decade of life, I’ve gone back and tried to play games from my childhood that I remember really enjoying, and graphically none of them have stood up to the test of time(X-Com, Doom, etc). Since all of the assets in BG are more or less hand drawn and the enhanced edition lets you play at your native resolution, the game still looks pretty damn good, especially amidst the recent indy dev 8 bit gaming boom. So graphically, it passes the test. The environments are pretty freakin cool too. A whole lot of unique, hand drawn areas that I had forgotten about since I first played a long time ago that made me say “huh, cool” when I came across them recently.