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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

13 years ago, I began a journey. This journey was abandoned for a good 10 years, but yesterday I accomplished something. I beat Baldur's Gate. In this case, it was Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, meaning I had available to me class kits that weren't introduced until Baldur's Gate 2. I used an Inquisitor Paladin, but I didn't use any of the new party members introduced in the Enhanced Edition.

What a blast! This game is a tactical RPG of the highest degree. Through playing, I've earned a new respect for Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition, and a realization that I'm a lot smarter now than I was when I was 12.

After battling my way through dungeons, investigating corrupt merchant houses, fighting devious mages and making friends along the way, I discovered my true calling and defeated my most wretched of foes: The nefarious Sarevok.

And I beat him.

By a fluke.

The hilarious voice acting, and the uninteresting companions aside, I only have one beef with this game. That beef is with the Sarevok fight. Nothing prior to that fight prepares you for it. Prior to the Sarevok fight, no mages had any pre-cast defensive spells on them. At Sarevok, the mage hasn't just cast them on himself, he's cast them on the archer as well. And there are traps everywhere, and they're almost impossible to find as well. It is an absolutely brutal fight. I turned the difficulty down to Novice, and I still didn't beat it... fairly, anyways.

No, what I did was set my mages to drop fireballs and skull traps on them while they were still off screen, and then I sicked Minsc on them in Berserker fury. That still  wasn't quite enough.

I kept my main character hiding in the back, and what finally killed Sarevok was the fact neither he nor Tazok could see my main character hiding in the back corner, so they stopped chasing me.

And stood in a cloudkill spell instead.

That's  how I beat the game. By the main bad guy standing in a deadly spell and killing himself when he couldn't see me.

That said, Baldur's Gate is still insanely fun, and it's a tent-pole classic. It and its sequel Baldur's Gate 2 are the godfathers of the Western RPG, and the reason why Bioware has the ridiculous standards put on them that they have. Both games have great writing, interesting characters (even if the NPC companions don't banter as much in the first game), and Baldur's Gate 2 introduced the ability to romance your party members. The games took risks that few games would have dared, and created the modern RPG.

They're available on Steam, and the iPad store and well worth picking up.