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June 12th, 2000


Baldur's Gate for Mac
Contact And Other Information
Manufacturer: GraphSim
Product Home Page: Baldur's Gate Home Page
Description: An incredibly huge Role Playing Game for those interested in the Dungeon Crawling Genre under an official AD&D TSR License.
Address: Graphic Simulations Corporation
15400 Knoll Trail,
Suite 104
Dallas, TX 75248

Price: US$49.95 pre-order
Telephone: 972.386.7575
Fax: 972.386.7875
Requirements: Currently the minimum requirement is a Power PC processor (includes iMac)
with 32 Megs of RAM.

System Used For Testing: B&W G3 333 MHz
PentiumIII 550
[Preview]
Baldur's Gate Preview: Dungeon Crawling In The AD&D Tradition

Baldur's Gate
by Cory Harrison

Introduction

In 1999, Baldur's Gate was released for the PC by Bioware Corporation, developed by Black Isle Studios. It was a game that blew the doors off the industry, rocketing RPG's back into the spotlight. It hit the top 5 in best selling games of 1999, and proved that RPG's were not as dead as the media had previously stated. Since then, a plethora of new RPG titles have hit the market, some succeeding, some failing. With the Macintosh release port by GraphSim just around the corner, we decided it was time to offer you a preview of what you can expect.


And so begins our journey...

One day, you are informed by Gorion that you must pack hastily and leave Candlekeep immediately. Once you have equipped yourself at the local store, chatted with a few locals, practiced the art of combat and magic, and run into a girl who specializes in thievery and wishes to join you on your journey, you meet up with Gorion on the steps of the Great Library and leave Candlekeep. He tells you rather cryptically that if anything happens, you are to meet up with two of his friends at The Friendly Arm, an inn to the north. Once outside the city walls you are waylaid by a helmed and armored nightmare and his minions. Gorion is killed and you are forced to flee. You run into your new girlfriend the following morning and thus begins your adventure.


Political tensions

The Swordcoast is experiencing odd iron shortages, and the iron that is successfully mined and shipped is tainted and useless. Political tensions are escalating, as it is believed that Amn, the country south of Baldur's Gate, is responsible for the Swordcoast's iron supply problems. Upon closer inspection you discover that Amn is being framed for the deed, and it is your responsibility to discover what is afoot.


Forming up your party

You are able to control up to 6 party members at a time, from thieves to druids to rangers to warriors. As you progress through the game you meet up with many different people. Some ask for your help and provide you with many sub-quests, and some try and assassinate you. As you continue, you can replace your weaker party members with stronger, higher level characters. But watch out! If your party is ill-conceived, you will run into problems. Depending on each members alignment, the group may begin bickering and infighting and then you could lose your entire party as fights break out. Also, remember to follow through with your promise to help out on the side quests your new members request of you. If you don't, they get increasingly agitated and then turn on you, usually taking other party members before you manage to kill them. Best to just go about helping them immediately and avoid this problem altogether, as you will need all the help you can get further down the road.


Screenshots
The Characters

Will it ever end?

This title is not for the faint of heart. Quite literally you will be involved in this epic story for over 100 hours of gameplay. It just never ends! Halflife was like this. Around every corner you think you must be almost finished, and a whole new vista opens up and you realize your only a third of the way. So send the kids to grandma's, lock yourself in your Y2Kshelter (complete with a years worth of provisions), and away you go. Once you have finished the solo missions, you can then go online and meet up with fellow adventurers to relive the entire experience over again. Talk about replayability.

Hordes of ravenous bugs!

Thankfully, you won't find many of the digital persuasion infesting the code, just loads of giant bugs out for blood inside the game. We managed to play the Macintosh Version at the San Francisco Macworld show back in January. The game played well and was very stable, but was missing the multiplayer option. As of this writing, the final game released by GraphSim will come without the multiplayer feature, which will be added a few short weeks after as a reasonably sized patch. However, one nagging problem in the game is the pathfinding AI. Your characters seem to think that taking the long way between point "A" and point "B" is much more fun than the shorter route. Then, they get 2/3's of the way and decide the short way was better, and backtrack. This can be a bit annoying in the lower levels of the dungeons and mines. But with a little micro management it's easy to avoid. This is a very minor complaint.

Engaging in battle

The best part of this game is the fighting. There are;

  • dozens of wonderful spells at your disposal
  • powerful warriors to hold off the hordes while your mages, archers or crossbowmen wear them down for the kill
  • wandering beasties in the wilderness that ambush your party during rest breaks, or when you are checking out unexplored regions
  • assassins out for your blood hired by some unknown antagonist

For those geeks who used to play Dungeons and Dragons, this is the real thing. Built on the same principles as the game, it's the official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons TSR licensed game.

The act of battle is quite engaging. When Baldur's Gate was announced, die hard RPG fans wept when they heard that it would be real time rather than turn based. As it turns out, they had nothing to worry about. While in the middle of battle, you can pause and issue commands to your various party members, unpause and watch the carnage ensue. Is that approach not working? Pause, issue new commands, and unpause! Its a nice combination of Real-Time and Turn Based gameplay. The militant masses have been appeased.


And its coming to a shelf near you!

An epic storyline, an epic number of enemy creatures to annihilate by either the sword, the arrow, or by spell, and beautifully rendered background scenery make this title a must have. Macintosh Gamers, you are in for a monumental treat when this baby hits store shelves. We would recommend that you pre-order now from GraphSim if you want to have it on your machine as soon as possible.

Baldur's Gate Mac will ship on 5 CD's containing nearly 10,000 scrolling game screens. The Multiplayer feature will be added as a patch shortly after the commercial release, and will be available as a small download. GraphSim plans a DVD version upgrade following the release of Baldur's Gate (nominal fee).


Preview: No Rating
Pros Fun game play
Gorgeous graphics
Lots of gaming options
Real-time and de facto turn-based battle option
Cons Pathfinding AI is weak
Long time from PC release to Mac port



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