Replaying Baldur's Gate

I got tired of Oblivion and started reminiscing about the RPG’s I’ve played through the years. I decided I’d revisit the first “hardcore” RPG I played after I bought my computer in 1998 - good old Baldur’s Gate.

Now I know Baldur’s Gate II is superior and I’ll replay that too. But I really wanted to start at the beginning and work my way through. I was intrigued by the mods out there and decided I’d play BG1 using the EasyTutu mod. I don’t know where the name came from but Tutu is a somewhat arcane conversion of BG1 to play within the BG2 engine. I tried to make it work a year or so ago and borked it. Well now someone’s released EasyTutu and it’s about as damn simple as running an Installshield Wizard. I can play BG1 in 800x600 (or higher if I wanted) and I can use BG2 classes in BG1. It also supports all the other changes from the BG2 engine. There are also several other mods that can be added to BG1 - the ones I’m using are on the page I linked to. My favorite is the BG1NPC project which adds some BG2-style party banters and romances to BG1. They’ve done a really professional job.

And what can I say? I’m hooked all over again. I’m enjoying wandering around the towns. I always loved the music in Baldur’s Gate and hearing it again made my heart beat faster. I realize just how much I love the hand-painted scenery in Baldur’s Gate. I love the NPC’s - especially Minsc and Boo. When I finally heard Minsc shout “Go for the eyes Boo!” I started giggling like a schoolgirl. It’s just been too long since I played this.

Now I understand a lot of this is just nostalgia and some people feel the same way about Ultima VII or Betrayal at Krondor. But Baldur’s Gate was such a tour de force at the time. It and the games that followed pretty much ruled the world for awhile. They were single-player games (well mostly… the multi always seemed tacked on) as the industry was starting to shift to MMO’s. They were 2D games as the industry was shifting to 3D. And they were party-based RPG’s as the industry was shifting toward single-player, action-oriented RPG’s.

Baldur’s Gate isn’t perfect. There’s still too much wandering through the wilderness though being able to play it using the BG2 increased walking speed helps a lot. It never really allowed for truly evil player characters without some extremely heavy penalties. The best mage and cleric are evil to the bone and hate my goody-two-shoes fighter. The graphics are just a little blurry on my LCD with a native resolution of 1280x1024.

But it’s all good. I’m going to kick Sarevok’s ass once again. And I don’t even care that I must gather my party before venturing forth.

BG1 is the first “modern” RPG I played… I bought it shortly after getting my 333mhz PC in December '98. I was pretty bowled over by the graphics, heh. I liked it a lot, though it has in my mind been overshadowed by BG2. I wouldn’t mind replaying it, but I gave the discs away to my brother years ago.

I just finished playing this again yesterday. Minsc took Sarevok down so hard it’s not even funny. I considered installing Tutu, but opted against it for no real reason. Now I’m in BG2, playing at 1024x768 (1280 has some odd scaling issues and is just a little too small), and loving it. I never have finished BG2, though I did finish BG1 once before.

The version of BG1 I have happens to be the DVD version. I was suprised that such a thing exists when I bought it, but I like having a simple jewel case instead of that 5-cd envelope thing. It makes installation so much simpler.

Sometime between playing BG1 the last time and this play-through, I purchased Tales of the Sword Coast. I didn’t start playing through its content until the end-game, and after finishing the first new quest or so, I realised I just didn’t care about anything that was happening there. None of it particularly appealed to me, so I just ran Sarevok down and jumped over to BG2. Now I need to get Throne of Bhaal.

On a nerdier note, my impetus for jumping into these games again was actually playing an AD&D pen-and-paper campaign. I’d never really gotten the rule system (“Those bracers of AC 6 subtract 4 from my AC? What the hell?”) until doing it by hand, and my new-found understanding (“Of course! They lower the character’s base AC to 6!”) has greatly aided my enjoyment of these games.

And now that I get it, I’m realising these games were made with a lot of love. They’re a suprisingly honest interpretation of the pen-and-paper rules.

I never liked BG. Authentic PnP feel, best D&D game since Eye of the Beholder II, but it was slow and the plot barely there. I still remember tediously clearing every bit of every map, one kobold at a time, just to make sure I didn’t miss cool caverns or something. Thought BG was overrated when it was released, and is still overrated now.

Loved Tales of the Sword Coast, though. And BG II was and is incredible. In retrospect, BG was just a warmup for BG II.

I actually upgraded my aging machine just to play BG2 when it was released. Ah, good times. Interestingly, there was a “The Original Saga” re-release that came on three CDs and included an extra soundtrack CD (but no hardcopy manual).

BG1 has pacing problems which Tutu can’t fix. As for BG2, as much as I enjoy it, the thought of another 200-hour play-through prevents me from reinstalling it again.

  • Alan

BG1 was tremendously overrated and nearly as boring as Temple of Elemental Evil. If I ever replayed story-based games I might one day replay BG2 but certainly not BG1.

I replay BG1 every couple years or so. Often I end up mostly ignoring the storyline - following it to the extent of opening up access to areas, but beyond that, I just wander around doing what I want to. I enjoy it far more than BG2.

And I never take Minsc. He’s annoying. On balance, my favorite party makeup was: PC as fighter/mage, Kagain, Shar-teel, Edwin, Viconia, Safana. Each of those NPCs is the best at their particular thing, so even though the party leans rather evil it’s a very effective group of adventurers.

One thing that always annoyed me about BG2 is that the “best” most focused NPC’s from a powergamer point of view were always evil.

eg the only focused decent cleric is Viconia, pure fighter is Korgan, pure mage is Edwin etc. All the good aligned NPC’s seem to be multiclass.

This link just made my day. Thank you.

You can find plenty of links to mods for IE games here if you want to look through them. The official forums still have plenty of discussion on which mods are the better ones to use for various purposes.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about replaying IWD 1 and 2 just to have the feeling of adventuring without the story. I thought BG2 was a great game, but I can’t seem to replay it. I’ve tried, and I just get bored because I already know the secrets, where to go next, etc. And I have to plod through the plot to do it. With IWD, it’s just a pure hack and slash. It’s linear, basically, and you just go. I may try some mods for that, but I don’t think I have either game anymore :(.

I was never able to get into Baldur’s Gate.

It was probably a big problem that I’d played Fallout and Planescape Torment literally right before it. And it started out with “Hey, you’ve got amnesia! Here’s your chirpy elf friend!” And I made a sound like Sideshow Bob in the field of rakes and never played it again.

I played BG twice and dropped out at Firewine both times. The pathing drove me crazy, and I was bored with the game by then.

BG2 is better, mostly because of the awesome Chapter 2, but I still think it’s overrated.

I think it’s worth it to play through the game more than once simply to try out different party members and to hear their banter and what not.

True, true. Plus the evils are less annoying. (One of these days, Aeyrie… POW! right in the kisser)

Yeah, the Bioware hook of “more NPCs than you can use in a single playthrough” combined with “good path and evil path” was enough to make me replay both BG2 and KoTOR pretty quickly after the first run-throughs.

The problem with Bioware’s concept of an “evil” path is that it isn’t fun. It involves gratuitous nastiness and petty cruelty, rather than muhahaha-I-am-the-dark-lord, or cunning doublecrosses. It makes the player feel bad and want to not play any further, rather than letting them glory in antiheroism. It isn’t fun. This is not how one does an “evil” path if one is actually interested in entertaining people with it.

In general I am decidedly of the opinion that Bioware actually is terrible at writing RPG plotlines and their success so far is largely a lucky accident, where the writing flaws are obscured by the excellent gameplay.

I enjoyed playing the BG games evil side in a dark Yosemite Sam/Looney Toons kind of way. It had depth and it was fun.

I enjoyed the difference between good and evil the most in KoToR and had utter contempt for Fable’s look I changed my clothes and got a tattoo and can switch back and forth at will system.

I’ve read this compared to a 12-year old’s version of evil and there’s something to that characterization. It’s all about being mean and sarcastic, indulging in momentary nastiness and little else.

Even in their D&D games, Bioware never really has any evil that remotely resembles lawful evil or even neutral evil - it’s all about chaos, but chaos without a point.

On the other hand, they do good pretty well. Self-sacrifice, doing good deeds, keeping a larger picture in mind. There is none of this big picture stuff in Bioware evil.

That said, I love the BG series - all of it.


I look at the Infinity Engine games as the “golden age” of party based rpg’s. Some really amazing games for a period of time there. Damn I miss them!