Review by Atreides

"Better than Final Fantasy X, definitely!"

When I heard that Black Isle Studios and Snowblind Studios were making Baldur's Gate for the PS2 I immediately thought ''Oh god, look out console gamers, here comes a bad idea for a port!'' Thankfully I was incorrect about the game design when I learned that they weren't going to port the PC series on to the PS2. Still, I was skeptical concerning this game, but my god! I was wrong! very wrong!

This game is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the Dungeons and Dragons universe. The game in particular takes place around the renowned city of Baldur's Gate. You play the role of one of three adventurers, a human ranger, a dwarven fighter, and an elven sorceress. You arrive in Baldur's Gate seeking your own fortune and on your first night there you are robbed by local thieves and left for dead. The rest of the story picks up from there when the city guards find you and direct you to the Elf Song Tavern and its very nice looking owner (when you see her you'll know what I mean.) The story will then take off from there as your quest to avenge yourself upon the thieves that robbed you turns in to an epic quest. I like this, a story about revenge, not your average ''those bastards took my girl and now I gotta go save her'' plot.

OK, here we go, these graphics are incredible. For those of you impressed with MGS2's graphics I hate to tell you this but they've been surpassed. For a good example of this check out the water ripple effects in BG: DA, they're stunning! Something else that amazes me is the varied environments of the game. I can remember in Diablo how everything seemed the same in one way or another, and the same holds true for Diablo 2. This game however, everything, and I mean everything is different from one area to the next. The sewers are completely different from say the Sunken Chapel, and the Crypt is different from the Thieves Guild. Something else of note are the creature designs. Every monster type is unique looking, and they have their own unique attacks and animations. A good example of this is the gelatinous cube, it looks pretty damn cool! Another example is a Frost Giant, let's just say that they got their scaling right! One final thing, I hope you don't mind gore because they don't hold back! Never seen this kind of carnage in a game of this type before!

Now, we come to another good point of this game, the sound. The voice acting is superb with various famous personages performing the acting for various NPCs. I also love the music to this game. The same man who composed the wonderful score to Icewind Dale also composed the score to this game, I love it! In case you're curious, the score itself is orchestral in nature, nothing else would fit this game. Another thing I think I should mention is the environmental sound effects. When you are walking around the sewers you can hear various noises like splashes, rats, and various shrieks in the distance. The same holds true for some of the outdoor environments. In the Sunset Mountains you can hear the wind blowing through the rocks and other noises associated with a mountain pass.

Game Play and Control:
OK, here is the best part about this game, the actual game play. The controls to this game are a dream! easy to learn and all are logical. The left analog stick controls movement, the right controls the angle of the camera, when R3 is pushed it resets the camera. The up and down arrows on the D-Pad cycle through all your special abilities, the left and right directions switch between your melee and ranged weapons, L2 and R2 will either use a Mana Potion or a Healing Potion respectively, L1 will either display a map in the center of the screen, shift it to the upper right corner, or make disappear entirely while the R1 button will block with a shield. Finally, Square will allow you to open/talk/pick up/interact with certain objects, Triangle will allow you to jump, X attacks, and Circle will use a selected special ability. Simple yes? that is what I love about this game. The interface is also easy to understand, unlike another game (Final Fantasy X.) Anyway, this is indeed a simple game to learn.

OK, you have three difficulty levels, easy, normal, and hard. After you finish the game you unlock Gauntlet Mode and if you complete Gauntlet Mode you unlock the Extreme Difficulty Option, and I mean it's extreme. So, not only do you have the difficulties, you have two extras to unlock, and you have three characters to play as plus a special character if you can complete the game on Extreme (I'll not spoil it!)

OK, this game is great, it's my favorite on the PS2 so far. And to further reinforce the point when I bought this game at Special FX the guy said to me as he handed me this game was ''You are going to love this game.'' and he was very right! So, why am I giving it a nine instead of a ten you are probably asking. The simple reason is that it's too short! You'll have this game finished in twelve hours your first time through. Other than it being too short it's almost perfect. I'd buy this game for sure!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/29/02, Updated 01/29/02

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