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D&D: Mainstream Style
You're a closet Dungeons and Dragons fan aren't you? Admit it. You love the idea of immersing yourself in a fantasy world as a brave fighter, a cunning thief, or perhaps a wizened old mage. But the part you don't like is spending hours on end rolling dice, or being at the mercy of a human dungeon master. Or maybe you're too weak to bear the stigma of being a role playing gamer and all the bad stereotypes that go along with the hobby. I mean, it's bad enough to tell your technophobe friends that you play computer games for hours at a time. Well, now you can have your cake and eat it too, D&D fans. Interplay's Baldur's Gate isn't just another D&D game. We've suffered through more than our share of subpar games that proclaim a D&D license. Baldur's Gate however, doesn't disappoint.
Spell effects are dazzling
First and foremost, Baldur's Gate sticks by the strict Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules. Every aspect, from the combat engine, to the strengths and weaknesses of the different races and character types (classes), to the spells, monsters and heroes, is taken from the AD&D rules. What you won't see are mages casting 50 fireballs in between mana potions or level 45 fighters with 439 hit points like you do in Diablo. Those things simply do not happen under the AD&D rules, which force you to be more judicious about using spells and such. Speaking of Diablo, a lot of people may take a glance at this game and say "hey it's a real time RPG like Diablo but party based instead of single player." While the real time aspect and the isometric view of the world are reminiscent of Diablo, the underlying aspects of Baldur's Gate are much more involved and sophisticated. The game comes on FIVE CDs, which house an incredible number of areas to explore, people to talk to, and sub quests to conquer. You're not going to solve this game in one night, folks. And once you get started, you probably wouldn't want to anyway.
What's the story?
The story starts off in your hometown, Candlekeep, where your foster father, Gorion, has raised you since birth. Gorion happens to be the keeper of the huge library at Candlekeep and is an accomplished mage. The issue of your past and your real parents is a mystery to you though, and one day Gorion implores that the two of you must leave the home you've known since birth. The presence of assassins in Candlekeep proves that your safety is at stake if you stay. So you pack up supplies, run some quick errands and journey to the next town with Gorion on through the night. During the trip however, you and Gorion get ambushed by some mysterious figures who are also trying to kill you. Gorion is able to destroy most of the bandits, but he tragically dies while saving your life. Left alone, you must investigate your past, who it is that wants you dead and why. You've heard some rumors about contaminated iron ore in the nearby mines so that might be a good place to start.