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Games I Own: Baldur's Gate 1

Posted on 2nd Feb 2009 at 10:38 by Joe Martin with 9 comments

Joe Martin
There are four stacks I have in my assortment of computer games at home - two piles of DVD jewel cases, one stack of games in smaller CD cases and three or four small wallets of individual CDs. Badlur's Gate 1 is in the stack of CD cases and is one of only two games I own that have cardboard cases.

Before we go any further though, a clarification is in order; I don't actually own Baldur's Gate 1 (and its packaged expansion Tales of the Sword Coast) - they belong to my brother. I nabbed them from him when he stopped playing games as much as I did.

In fact, let's move from clarification to confession: I never really liked Baldur's Gate.

A good part of that dislike is simply because I played the second game in the series first - even then only at the insistence of my brother. After years of Fallout I just couldn't get used to the real-time combat. Compared to the second game, Baldur's Gate 1 is cumbersome and quite ugly.

More than that though, it's difficult. In the second game your characters all start at Level 7 or so, while the first instalment boots you into the wilderness with but one companion and no experience. I swear I can actually hear the game sneering at me; "Welcome to Level 1. HAHAHA!"

Games I Own: Baldur's Gate 1

Because I had played the second game first though, this meant I knew my way around the mechanics, so I was able to persevere with Baldur's Gate 1 and, while I didn't like it as much, it's still an OK game.

One of the things I like most about BG1 is the fact that it'll simply throw the occasional assassin or competing Bhaalspawn at you. It's such a little, throw-away thing, but knowing that there are other Bhaalspawn out there and getting to meet them does a lot to flesh out the fiction. The fact that assassins come at you keeps things feeling tense too, so you actually feel hunted. Why do evil, far-away bosses in other games leave you to plot your attack instead of sending assassins after you? That's how I'd do it.

If I'm being honest though then I'll have to admit that I still consider BG1 to be by far one of the most poorly balanced games from BioWare - characters can die so quickly that it feels totally unfair. Dumping players so far from help at the start of the game and forcing them to make their way through the woods with no clear sense of direction seem particularly devious if you ask me, especially since they're constantly teased with the desire to explore.

Games I Own: Baldur's Gate 1

Most importantly though, the one thing I was looking for in BG1 that had been in BG2, wasn't there - the character conversations. Your allies still spoke amongst themselves, but the system wasn't nearly as well developed and the conversations were done more in audio than text, which made them easy to miss.

A few weeks ago I was tempted to sit down and play some more Baldur's Gate 1 with the aid of a tool that lets you play it in the enhanced version of the Infinity Engine that was used in the second game though. I figured it would be good research for this, but the game was still frustratingly difficult to get started with and the shortcuts sat on my desktop for two weeks, merely mocking me. In the end I had to uninstall them - an act that probably says a lot about my character.

Random Fact: As I found out by accident once, you can get your allies in BG1 to say some pretty funny things if you click on their character portraits 12 times in a row.

Number of Times I've Completed It: Once, though I never finished the expansion.

Joe, Out.

9 Comments

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Mcmonopoly 3rd February 2009, 16:43 Quote
I Own that game, Got the "Gold" edition, which meant it actualy came with 24k gold CDs and FO1 and a bunch of extras... Oh the good old times.!

I haven't tried to run it since I went on XP a long time ago, I'm pretty sure I would still enjoy it as much as I did the other times around.

The speed at which you can die is unbelievable, as you mentioned, but still, the game was top notch in my book.

Thank for bringing it up;)

PS: Are there any tools to make BG1 run In Vista correctly?
CardJoe 3rd February 2009, 17:25 Quote
If you've got the second game then there's a mod to make it run in the BG2 engine, which gives you extra resolution, transparency and so on. Should run in vista fine.
Xtrafresh 3rd February 2009, 19:55 Quote
I rediscovered this game when i got my tablet. It's surprisingly awesome to use and it runs fine on Vista using the aforementioned engine :)
Claave 3rd February 2009, 21:50 Quote
Did anyone get anywhere in BG1 playing as a wizard? I kept getting mauled by the two wolves in the first bit of wilderness and had to start over as a tank.

Also, does anyone remember the wizard you meet outside that pub that hammers you with magic missiles? Gave me an aversion to anyone calling me 'friend' even to this day! :D
CardJoe 4th February 2009, 08:30 Quote
Playing BG1 as a wizard is about as hardcore as it gets, methinks.
Paradigm Shifter 4th February 2009, 15:26 Quote
Anyone who wants to replay BG1 or BG2 (or Planescape Torment!) might want to check out Gibberlings - http://www.gibberlings3.net/widescreen/ - for their little program that can get the games running in widescreen resolutions. Works fine on Vista 64 for me, although so far I've only tried BG2 with Throne of Bhaal installed. Couldn't find my PS:T discs (have now...) and I needed to buy a new copy of BG1 as I let a friend borrow my copy and he's dropped off the face of the earth. :(
Blademrk 4th February 2009, 16:23 Quote
Quote:
I needed to buy a new copy of BG1 as I let a friend borrow my copy and he's dropped off the face of the earth
It's just that absorbing. Once you start playing.... :)
CardJoe 4th February 2009, 19:11 Quote
I've never played Throne of Bhaal - is it worth going through the first two games again to get to?

As for Planescape Torment, I can never lose my copies. I have them on the kitchen wall in glass frames, signed by Ray Muzyka of BioWare. One of my most prized possessions :)
Paradigm Shifter 4th February 2009, 21:13 Quote
Throne of Bhaal really provides as much closure for the story of the Bhaalspawn as is feasible without another n-hundred-hour RPG (not that I'd be complaining if they did a BG3!) so, yes, I think it's pretty important to play it. :D

And as for 'losing' PS:T... it wasn't so much 'lost' as "put away in a safe place"... that's fatal for me, I put something somewhere "safe" and then need to spend days and days and days hunting for it the next time I want it! :o
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