Sunday, February 03, 2013

Baldurs Gate Thoughts

Over the last few weeks I have been immersing myself in the original Baldur's Gate saga. Although I have played several of Bioware's later games I never had a chance to try this classic before so it feels good to finally play it. Of course it is a hugely deep complex game I can see how so many players were enthralled by it. It is not without it's frustrations though. I think my biggest bugbears relate to the limitations of the AD&D 2nd Edition rule set. In particular I am hugely disappointed by how little character customisation you get to do in this game. Levelling up is practically automated with fairly minor choices left to the player after character creation. The limited options for gear and the scarcity of high end equipment also reduces any chance of exploring your characters skills and abilities. I like an rpg where you gradually develop your character over time exploring different options along the way. In BG1 it sometimes feels like you need to know where you are going to end up at the very start of character creation and everything else just follows automatically from that initial dice rolling session.

I must confess that after a few hours playing the genuine vanilla game I followed the advice of just about every internet commenter and installed a mod which ports BG1 into the much improved Baldur's Gate 1 engine. There are a few options available, the choice seeming to depend on whether or not you want the story of Baldur's Gate 1 to blend seamlessly into that of Baldur's Gate 2. I chose Easytutu which keeps BG1 as a separate game. I can vouch for it's ease of installation and it gives substantial graphical and other ease of life improvements while retaining the characters and story of the original game.

Easytutu does have some differences to the original game however. The ones I have noticed include:
1. Easy Tutu seems to spawn trash mobs more often and in larger groups that the original game on the same difficulty setting. Happily you can get an add on called Spawn randomiser that allows that to be tweaked.
2. Some skills and proficiencies have been changed to the Baldur's Gate 2 versions.
3. Perhaps a a consequence of the above some party member come with different abilities.

The weapon proficiencies is actually a big deal. BG1 had a small number of proficiencies that each allowed a range of weapons so for example bows included long bow short bow and composite bows. In BG2 there is a separate proficiency required for every type of weapon (one for short bow, one for long bow etc.). Proficiency points are as rare as hen's teeth (it take multiple levels to get one) so this really restricts your characters' choice of weapons. The game has only a few good weapons anyway so this is a big deal.


Jayedub said...

The TuTu mod is great, kept my eyes from melting from the low res graphics!

I remember the first time I played Baldur's Gate I didn't like it at all. But I gave it a second chance and I seem to remember that game consuming weeks of my life after that. Good times.

mbp said...

TuTu is an absolutely phenomenal piece of community modding, a complete porting of the whole game to a new engine. The standard is so high that just about everybody says you should play TuTu rather than the original game.