2 posts • joined Thursday 27th October 2011 09:26 GMT
Ok, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment. Baldur's Gate was good, but it wasn't great. The series achieved greatness with the sequel (which remains one of the best games of all time).
That's not to understate the importance of BG1 - it arrived at a time when the Western RPG as a genre was moribund. Ultima had been slaughtered by a succession of bad design decisions. Eye of the Beholder had collapsed under the weight of technological obsolescence. Other franchises weren't getting any kind of mainstream breakthrough. And at the same time, Japanese RPGs like Final Fantasy VII were making a huge global impact. Then BG1 came along and showed that the Western RPG could be relevant again. It had a decent interface, neat graphics and a reasonably engaging story (albeit one that was very slow to get going).
But it was also quite flawed. It was brutally unforgiving in the early stages - you spent a lot of time wandering around as a level 1 or 2, with a hitpoint count so low that even random low-level mobs could 1-shot you. It had a save system that added more and more enemies if you had to keep loading your game to get past a particular fight. It had a rather loose design, with lots of fairly empty wilderness areas with not much to see or do beyond a bunch of trees. Oh, and all those wonderful interactions with party members you remember? Most of them are from the sequel - after joining your party, companions in BG1 didn't say or do very much.
BG2 rectified all of this. It had a plot that was engaging right from the outset. While more complicated than its predecessor (with some incredibly complex spell interactions) it was also a more forgiving game - you had a fairly large survivability toolset from the outset, and the save/load silliness was gone. Its areas were more tightly designed - pretty much every path or every doorway would lead to an encounter or event. And it had those wonderful conversations between your party members.
I always point them out whenever people complain about the number of sequels in the games industry - sometimes, this industry needs a couple of installments to achieve brilliance.
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