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The Golden Oldies

Why, hello there, I see you’ve made your way onto my debut post. I’m Patrick Rose/Paddy Rose/The Sewer Rat (don’t ask about that last one, it’s a long story), general editor at How To Play and a gaming geek. I’ll be writing stuff about games that you may have heard of. I’m also English, and, goddammit, I’m using my spellings whether you like it or not.

The world of gaming has changed an awful lot over the past few years, with that game-that’s-really-a-film COD selling millions of copies, the e-sport Koreanfest StarCraft getting its sequel a mere 10 years after the original. For some strange reason I can’t fathom, I’ve been ignoring the current releases and playing Baldur’s Gate instead.

Baldur’s Gate was the 4th or 5th game I ever experienced properly, and it came out when I was 7 or 8. I have very fond memories of my Dad playing it while I watched. I’ve not touched it since that time (which I guess is about 7 years ago. Christ, now I feel old. God help the rest of you) because I sucked at it back in the day when I couldn’t sing low notes. If you aren’t aware of how the world works and think it works the same way Doom does, you will suck at it too.

But that’s not the point. The reason I’m playing it again now is that it was cheap on Impulse (and DRM free), and with Skyrim on it’s way I’d been getting an RPG itch which Oblivion wasn’t able to scratch. Add in that I’ve never got anywhere past the second chapter of the 5/6 in the game while my Dad was prancing around in the endgame, and you can understand why it had to be bought and finished, just so I could say I’d finally beaten the damn thing.

For those who aren’t aware of the setting of BG, it’s based in the Forgotten Realms on the Sword Coast, close to the city of Baldur’s Gate. You being in the city of Candlekeep and are asked by your foster father Gorion to get ready to leave urgently.

Surprise, surprise, Gorion is killed by an armoured figure (who in every playthrough gets damaged when Gorion dies, much to my confusion). You’re on your own in a world where there are all sorts of creatures that try and kill you.

This was the first game to use AD&D second edition rules, with minor modifications to make it work in real time. I’m not a massive D&D nerd, and thus I don’t know what changes were made, but basic things were taken. When this was released, critics everywhere were enamoured. This game set the standard for the rest of RPGs. You can see the influence that it has in Dragon Age and others even 12 years on.

If you are looking for something to sink your teeth into then this will fill your appetite and then some. It’s aged very well, and if you’ve got the sequel you can run it with that engine with the Tutu mod. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

*As an aside, the Icewind Dale series’ creator said in an interview that it took 2 weeks  of phone calls to work out where in the Realm hadn’t been earmarked for other projects.

Patrick Rose is a Computer Science Student at Sheffield University and is the general editor of How To Play. You can follow him on Twitter where he masquerades as @DrugCrazed, or bug him on Steam: Drug Crazed Dropkick

Images: Wizards of the Coast

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  1. ZenMonkey47 says:

    Every time this game is mentioned I feel compelled to reinstall it. Dragon Age doesn’t hold a light spell to Baldur’s Gate. Spiritual successor my posterior. And Dragon Age 2 is to Dragon Age as Dragon Age is to Baldur’s Gate.

  2. Jon says:

    Another note about BG’s graphics… I remember checking out Neverwinter Nights a few years back and being appalled at the 3D graphics. I had been expecting something vastly superior to the old games, but it turns out BG’s top down 2d graphics hold up so much better.

    Will have to check out the tutu/widescreen mods…if I can pull myself away from Civ V long enough to fire up a new game

  3. Carlos says:

    In the final sequence to kill off the big bad guy you need the help of the underground thief network. Unfortunately, I had pissed them off and they attacked me straight off and plus, I had no backup saved games to avoid it. Therefore, I never passed it and I feel like it is a stain on my reputation and honor to this day.

  4. Tyler says:

    The Baldur’s Gate series is one of the few computer games that held my attention, possibly because it’s relatively similar to the tabletop experience.

    And yes, I have the Mac versions of the original game, the sequel and the Throne of Bhaal expansion. I just wish I could get them to run properly on my Mac without shutting a processor off.

  5. Hurricane Ditka says:

    I would much rather play some Live Action Interactive Role playing!

  6. Patrick Rose says:

    I talk in jest of course. I’m well aware that I’m probably the youngest by a fair bit. I joined a folk choir recently and I’m the baby of the group by at least 20 years.

  7. Nick says:

    I’d wager to guess that compared to the average reader of this blog, 20 years old is not old.

    Also, the really old geezers like myself even might find that kind of talk insulting. If we have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, that is. Which I thankfully have not. 🙂

  8. Patrick Rose says:

    I feel old now. I’m going to be 20 this year. That’s like, my 3rd decade.

    Also, it seems like so long ago I was watching my dad play BG. I look at myself now and wish I was that 11 year old that didn’t have to go to lectures and do assignments.

  9. Nick says:

    Wait. You were 7 or 8 in 1998 when Baldur’s gate came out and somehow you feel old? Does not compute.

    I loved Baldur’s Gate. It was probably one of my three best gaming experiences ever. The sequel was pretty good too, but not as good as the first. However I just could not play the Icewind Dale games. I played the first one for maybe ten hours but it just didn’t stand up to the other ones. The characters were all wrong, the story was very weak and it was mostly hack’n’slash.

    In later versions when they abandoned the top-down view from Baldur’s Gate I and II then I just could’t play anymore. It became too difficult to move around, too difficult to see everything, too difficult to find your way, etc.

    I love the top-down view. I would absolutely kill for a new Forgotten Realms game with this view. But I guess all games have to be first or second person 3D games these days. I just love building a party and controlling every character individually. In the past maybe 8 years Dragon Age is the only game that has come close to this.

  10. Jake says:

    @Schuyler yeah they definitely did release it for Mac as i had a copy of it way back when and i’m 90% sure its still available – check Amazon’s marketplace for people selling it 2nd hand.

    or try that other nautical themed method of which i shall not speak its name…..ahoy me hearty yo-ho…

  11. Aeshir says:

    But it gets hard as shit, and when you can’t figure out the math behind the dice rolls and THACO and all that, it’s overwhelming.

  12. Patrick Rose says:

    @Schuyler Fairly certain it did. Whether you can still *buy* it for Mac is a different matter. I think Bioware also released some of their later games for Linux, but don’t quote me on that.

  13. Schuyler says:

    Ug. Windows only? Didn’t this ever get released on the Mac?

  14. Patrick Rose says:

    @Aeshir It works quite simply. Click on the enemy and stuff happens. If you happen to have a mage in your party, they will die over and over again. It’s the rules.
    @Jon No idea about widescreen. I’m a poor student who isn’t that arsed about graphical quality (which is interesting. I think BG looks better than DA)

  15. Jake says:

    Hell Yes to the BG2. such an epic game and so many great memories and experiences linked to it.

    also – welcome @Patrick Rose! bloody god to see a fellow Brit writing awesome goodness like this. i look forward to your future posts!

  16. Aeshir says:


    If you use the Tutu mod that’s in the article, you can run the first game in the second game’s engine (which has a ton of benefits), and there’s a widescreen mod out there.

  17. Jon says:

    oh, wow…loved baldur’s gate when it came out. found it so damned difficult too, and always got mauled every time assassins came to get me in the first few chapters.

    have played it a few times since and found it not quite so difficult. (especially compared to Icewind Dale). Would love to fire up BG 1/2 on Windows 7, since I still have all the old discs. There any way to get it to display properly on a widescreen monitor?

    Also want to check out Dragon Age, since I missed that somehow.

  18. Aeshir says:

    I’ve tried to play this many times over the past ten years but have always been perplexed by the D&D rules that it abides by, and so I couldn’t get further than the Nashkel mines without stopping. That didn’t stop me from fooling around for hours upon hours with the CLUAconsole cheats, though.

  19. Steven says:

    I seriously just bought this off of and started playing it today.

    I’ve only played through the prologue but it seems pretty fun.

  20. Sam says:

    Baldur’s Gate goddamn rules. The second one is also amazing. Another old game that still holds up is Age of Empires 2. I’ve been playing the crap outta that one. That game is a blackhole for your free time in the best way possible.

  21. Patrick Rose says:

    Surprisingly well actually. I’m on Win7 64bit and that hates EVERYTHING. If you’re worried about compatibility then gog have it for the same price. No idea if Tutu works with it though, and I think they only have the original.

  22. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    I bought Baldur’s Gate when it came out.

    How does it run on modern PC’s and other OS’s?

    Think I could install and make it work on my current setup because I never did get to play it through.