back to article BioWare Baldur's Gate

I remember one summer when my dad decided it would be great to go on holiday for two weeks in a stone farm house in Scotland, it rained and we spent the whole time playing Dungeons and Dragons. BioWare Baldur's Gate PC game A few more options than a roll of the dice Yet it wasn’t until the release of Baldur’s Gate in 1998 …

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  1. Pooka
    Thumb Up

    Baldurs Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldurs Gate 2 and Throne of Bhaal - install the whole lot, hunt for and download the BIG world project - run the whole thing from start of BG1 to end of BG2, with added content and all inside the BG2 engine....

    I've lost months of my life to that combo....

    (Although I definitely prefered Planescape Torment - there was something fantastic about Morte, and playing a character you knew nothing at all about....)

  2. Kevin Fairhurst

    "It’s the plot that makes this came a classic" - game, surely? Surely the plot wasn't *that* exciting?

  3. HP Cynic

    BG games (including the Icewind Dales) are still among the best because they had so much atmosphere.

    I still love the fact that in the first game you actually had to travel between areas with all the associated risks of being ambushed en route.

    Sure this took time and hassle but preserved the sense you were moving around a real geography rather than teleporting between "Adventure Hubs" or "Nodes".

  4. EddieD

    Ah...yes!

    The best game ever (as far as I'm concerned)

    Great characters, good scenes, ran well on a low powered machine....

    Must dig it out again...

  5. Richard Jukes

    I refuse to admit that Baldurs gate is now 'antique' code. It was not that long ago. And I am not that old.

  6. Devon_Custard

    Lost many a uni day to this game....

    Everynow and then I remember the tune on the flute in the bars and whistle it to myself.

  7. Andy Farley

    No..

    Combat Mission yet? Boo.

  8. Lloyd
    Angel

    Good although it could be very boring

    Battles could really drag on.

    Have ever done Privateer 2:The Darkening on the Code Show? If not, why not? For the sheer awesomeness of having John Hurt, Brian Blessed, David Warner and Christopher Walken, it should be worshipped in a "we're not worthy" fashion.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      Was that the one with Clive Owen as the protagonist who had lost his memory?

  9. Thecowking
    Happy

    Best RPG ever?

    It's bloody close if it's not the one.

    This and the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion cost me a lot of hours of my life, I played it through so many times I am trained to rage at the sound of "Heya, it's me! Imoen!".

    I still remember when I found out you could unparty 4 people surrounding Drizzt and then stand back and shoot him until he died and loot his corpse for frankly amazing items.

    Silly Drow, your place is in the underdark!

  10. Tony Paulazzo
    Happy

    One of the few RPGs I played thru' to the finish, tho' the incessant battles did get a little tiring I loved the illusion of freedom the game gave you, exploring the countryside.

    >Reg Hardware will be revisiting memorable titles from gaming's illustrious past every fortnight<

    Midwinter by Mike Singleton - a groundbreaking game that pretty much birthed 3D extravaganza's (along with Ultima Underworld).

  11. Tom 38 Silver badge

    2nd gen RPG imo

    The one that got me hooked was Dungeon Master (+Chaos Strikes Back) for the ST. Genuinely weeks of playing time.

  12. The Jay
    Thumb Up

    I LOVE BG!

    Ahh the good old days of BG. I loved it...

    I cant remember what Minsc called his pet hamster?

    There was so much to do in BG, one of the best RPG games ever created. The follow ups never really grabbed me as much as the original... Icewind Dale was good, but still not as good as BG.

    1. Pooka
      Happy

      The giant minature space hamster was called Boo.....

      Which gave us "Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!" from Baldur's Gate - revisited by Tali in Mass Effect 2 as "Go for the optics! Go for the optics!"

  13. Dahak
    Happy

    Back when Bioware was good.

    And by good I mean hadn't decided you should need twitch reflexes for an RPG.

    And it runs on my netbook. :)

  14. Z-Eden
    Pint

    All I can say is - what a game. One of my all time favourites that I still keep on my shelf next the to the BG2 collectors edition and Throne of Bhaal. A superb story, brilliant atmosphere, top notch writing. What more can you ask for?

    As an aside for those wishing to replay this: a community project called Baldur's Gate Tutu allows you to play BG1 using BG2's engine, PC classes, magic, graphics, etc. Worth a look.

  15. waarg
    Thumb Up

    Go for the eyes, Boo!

    I spent months playing Baldurs Gate back in 98 and play through it ever few years using the BgTutu Mod (which allows you to play BG1 in the BG2 engine). It is always immersive and compelling (unlike, say World of Warcraft).

    The music was the icing on the cake for me. I did a couple of amateurish remixes and put them online. Got my first ever bandwidth bill for that.

  16. Craig Chambers
    Thumb Up

    Got me back into D&D

    Back in 1999 (OK I was a bit late to the party) I picked this up and threw myself back into the D&D world I had given up at age 14. The game was instantly wonderfully immersive, addictive, with a great story line and NPCs that properly interact with you (once I got over the bug that the game constantly paused/unpaused 5 times a second - fixed by pressing the pause button!)

    The game introduced me to newsgroups, got me playing online, and being involved with an online community for the first time.

    It also led to me pick pen and paper D&D back up, and I'm still playing this weekly online with folks I met in the alt.game.baldurs-gate newsgroup.

    The game and its sequel BG2 had a thriving mod community, and lots of replay value. I sometimes wish I could blank my memory of the game so that I could discover it all over again.

  17. I'm not sleeping...
    Thumb Up

    This is the game that set the bar for all other RPGs!!

    Hail to the King baby... opps, wrong game.

  18. TakeTheSkyRoad
    Thumb Up

    Good times....

    This and Baldur's Gate 2 that meant that my degree wasn't quite what it could have been. Disertation ? After this bit....

    Also had good fun playing cooperative mode with a flat mate :)

  19. Armando 123
    Thumb Up

    Good ol BG!

    I loved this and BGII. Fantastic gaming for the day (still holds up surprisingly well), great plots and subplots, good graphics, and good NPC characters. Speaking of which, how in the name of all that is holy could you have a Baldur's Gate review and not mention Minsc and Boo?!?!

    "Butts will be kicked liberally! Right, Boo?"

    *squeak*!

  20. DragonKin37
    Thumb Up

    This is the game

    That put Bioware on the map, and started move RPG gamers away from Square-Enix.

  21. Adam T
    Thumb Up

    Awesome series

    And now I've got a hankering. Off to gog.com I go...

  22. ThePlanMan
    Thumb Up

    I remember this one fondly, 4 CD's and an option to do a full install, which, due to each area being stored as a massive bitmap, was (iirc) 2.2Gb. a HUGE amount for 1998! And let's not forget the 4xCD-ROM drives that we had back then, doing a full install on this baby took a few hours!

    Great fun though, I always remember the map with the basilisks being the most frustrating :)

    1. Peter Gray
      Happy

      gog.com

      Try going to Good Old Games - gog.com. They have both BG 1 and 2 combined for about US$5.99, fully licenced, no DRM and already in an emulator so they will run on XP/Vista/Win7.

      They also have all of the Icewind Dale games, and Planescape torment....

      Say goodbye to a big chunk of your time after visiting this site!

  23. MGJ
    Windows

    Current?

    It would be useful in these reviews to include whether it will still run on Windows 7/Vista 64 bit, or in a VM.

    I loved this game, and played it for 7 months while living in a hotel in London during the week.

    1. Pooka
      Happy

      I've had it running on Win 7(64 bit), with a bit of fiddling - needed BG2 and BiGWorld, and then it's fine...

    2. James O'Brien
      Thumb Up

      happy to report

      Yes they will. So long as you follow the directions in a guide for the game on gamefaqs.com written by Dan Simpson.

  24. Yag
    Trollface

    Time for the ultimate troll targetted as anyone who played this game....

    "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!" "HEYA! IT'S ME, IMOEN!"

    Sorry... If it can cheer you up, i'll be stuck with this horrible memory playing in my head for the rest of the day too...

    1. RayG
      Happy

      You're all buffleheaded.

    2. FoamingToad
      Flame

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH.

      Thankfully, there's a mod to disable this. Didn't know this when I went through BG2 though, to my loss.

      Was quite amused by the nods to BG1/11 in Mass Effect 1/2 -the space hamster (with genuine Boo squeak) in the first one, and Tali's shouts in ME2: "Faster than Chiktika Fast-paws" and "Go for the Optics".

      Also, el reg: may I humbly suggest that "Your email address is never published" be replaced with "Your email address is almost never published"?

      ;-)

      1. br0die

        YOU HAVE BEEN WAYLAID BY ENEMIES AND MUST DEFEND YOURSELF

        Every, fricken, time!

  25. James O'Brien
    Thumb Up

    Ahhh good ol' BG

    I remember this game fondly. In fact I still have a copy here that I like to go play from time to time because the story and attention detail absolutely blow away pretty much any other game out today.

    Im with the author on the blowing away a village for kicks. Except for when the Flaming Fist come after you....bastiches

    Its a shame though that there havent been more BG games out since it was one of the best RPGs for its time.

  26. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Happy

    Jeez, was it really 1998??

    Thanks for making me feel old!!

    I mostly remember the loopy ranger or warrior guy you could recruit to join your party. He had a hamster or something in his pack that you couldnt remove (to make room for more loot!) without him getting violently agitated. I think the hamster was named Boo.

    He also had an audio tagline that he would cry out when you gave him combat orders--"butt-kicking for goodness!"

    1. Sooty

      not just any hamster, he had a miniature giant space hamster!

    2. sisk Silver badge

      Boo is a miniature giant space hamster. Don't forget that. Minsc gets agitated when people treat Boo like a normal hamster.

  27. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Sir

    "Tents moments"

    Very good :)

  28. That Awful Puppy
    Thumb Up

    Oh dear

    If there ever was a game I was addicted to, it was this. I played it for about 20 hours nonstop, not even going to the loo. It might have been responsible for me almost failing the first year at the uni.

    Ahh, memories.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Holmes

      Sir

      It was Sim City going up in smoke that did it for me, if you know what I mean.

  29. raving angry loony

    drat...

    Oh great. I have that installed on an old system (imaged to virtual machine, the hardware is long gone). Now I have to play it again. Evil Reg. Evil.

  30. Raywind
    Thumb Up

    You must gather your party before venturing forth!

    See above.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Amazing stuff...

    The only thing that was missing for me was the ability to create a full 6 character party right from the start... luckily, that came soon after with Icewind Dale I and II. The BG engine and those RPGs where masterpieces. That and Fallout II. Ah, thank you Black Isle Studios!!!

    1. DanielFriedrich
      Pint

      Party of 6

      Just start a multiplayer game without other players, then you can create all 6 characters. Me and two friends played it that way. Luckily the internal phone system in our halls was installed at that time so we could have a phone conference for free. Played it many nights with regular strategy meetings fueled by Gluehwein.

      Favourite quote (in German) is from the pubs: Hier ist das Bier billig!

  32. sisk Silver badge

    BG is antique code?

    Geez, now I feel old.

    Great game though. Playing a character from BG all the way through both games and their expansions was a good way to spend a few months worth of free time. I went to fire it up again a few months ago, but alas, the original 4 disc + Sword Coast version doesn't run on modern systems apparently. I'll have to go dig up a copy of the 3 disc version eventually.

    1. Sooty

      unfortunately

      I picked this up in my first year of university, and it makes me feel old having it called antique. Old games are for the spectrum, (although... system shock 2 deserves a mention in here :) ) not windows based games.

      I never really had time to get into it. I still have it kicking around and i should really give it another go as i enjoyed Planescape Torment

  33. Wyrdness

    I've never played it, but it looks like the kind of game that could well enjoy a new lease of life if it were ported to iPad / Android tablets.

    1. Putonghua73
      Thumb Up

      Do yourself a favour, play it!

      An excellent, excellent game - I still have the original disks and BG is installed on my PC, because I have never managed to complete it (I'm horrendous with completing games - or not as the case may be).

      In fact, I've started playing BG over the years and recently decided to play it, with the eventual aim of completing it. I've got to nearly the point where I was back in 2004, and haven't played it in a while because I got distracted by Fallout 3 and then work, professional qualifications and dating (I place an unhealthy premium on trying to sleep with Asian women above all else).

      I'm taking some time off over Christmas - not to visit the family but to play SW:TOR and a few solid days of BG playing.

      I love the actual detail in the game - incredibly meticulous; an excellent soundtrack with beautiful, immersive sound effects and excellent dialogue and characterisation. Plus, it's is a brutally tough game at times - especially when you're weak at the start and get ambushed by Orcs ("Spare no-one!") and/or bandits ("So I kicked in the head until he was dead"). Or run foul of the Flaming Fist ("I serve the Flaming Fist!").

      Plus, tactical play in setting up your party, their positions, formation, spell-choice et al, really works.

      Oh. It's bloody massive! Cue the Douglas Adam joke about the Universe.

      Goddamn you, El Reg! I have 2 assignments to do - including a very overdue one that I have not even started the reading, let alone write the damn thing, and now you nudge me towards resuming my BG game!

      1. Peter Kay

        You've not played BG2, have you?

        If you think BG is big, then BG2 is positively immense.. Icewind Dale 2 is pretty damn big too (that's one I still haven't got around to finishing).

        Neither BG or BG2 do everything right, but their sheer size, flexibility and character banter make them decent games. Planescape:Torment remains the best Infinity Engine game, however.

  34. hrm
    Thumb Up

    still great

    The game has really aged well, with all the handdrawn art. I recently started replaying it on my netbook, while travelling.

    I can recommend the gog.com version. Installation is hassle-free, everything runs well on xp/win7.

    Be sure to check the forums at gog.com to learn about the available mods and patches.

    Especially nice is the mod that enables you to choose custom screen resolutions.

  35. Adrian Lidington
    Thumb Up

    Three words...

    Big Metal Unit :D (If you have no idea what I'm on about, you need more pantaloons! )

  36. MuddyBoots
    Thumb Up

    We're all heroes, you me and boo too!

    Or was that BG2?

  37. Long Fei
    Thumb Up

    Agree!

    Yes indeed, a fantastic game. Could stand up to anything available today even, IMO.

  38. Armando 123
    Windows

    You know

    Just last night we were talking about new computers and I was wondering what we would then do with that ten-year-old G4 iMac that is still in good shape. Now I know what to do. Baldur's Gate! Baldur's Gate II! Neverwinter Nights! Civilization III! Etc etc etc.

    All the better, really, if the computer is "old and slow and uncool and NGKH, Dad!", as now *I'll* get a chance to play a game or two ...

  39. Fading Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Antique - surely you jest?

    If that's antique what do I call my copy of Ultima V on 5.25" floppies wth original cloth map and Coin?

  40. Kevin Johnston

    Glory days indeed

    There was/is something very satisfying about the gameplay in the whole of the BioWare D&D gameset (don't recall if Eye of the Beholder was theirs but if it was then that is the exception to prove the rule). It really did hold to the D&D concept (not rules, they are guidelines....) while handling all the more boring housekeeping for you.

    Even now I still run through some of these when I get fed up with first-person shoot-em-ups just so I can relax and enjoy messing things up by being a good bad person or a bad good person.

    Yes you can cheat by creating artefacts which unbalance the game or by using a walkthrough to get to the end as fast as possible but whats the point. Just wander round and enjoy the effort that the team put in to make the game bigger than just a mission.

  41. Rogueywon
    Flame

    Devil's advocate

    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.

    1. Also McFly
      Meh

      I don't know...

      "That's not to understate the importance of BG1 - it arrived at a time when the Western RPG as a genre was moribund."

      Er, there were some pretty great North American RPGs leading up to, and just prior to the BG series. Just a few that everyone should remember: The SSI Gold Box collection 1988-1991, Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession 1994, Menzoberranzan 1994, Daggerfall (Elder Scrolls II) in 1996, Fallout in 1997. When I think of RPGs of the late '90s, I think of the peak and slow death of the top down style of gameplay, not the rebirth of the genre. Pretty sure most of these were pretty mainstream, maybe the DreamForge titles in the mid-90s didn't catch on as well as they should have, but certainly Daggerfall and Fallout were mainstream RPG hits.

  42. Truffle
    Facepalm

    You cant say that!

    "No two trees are alike"...written directly above a couple of screenshots clearly showing 2 identical tress. :)

  43. ssgcmw
    Happy

    I love how you can now play BG1 with the BG2 engine!

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