Computer role-playing game (CRPG) developed by Bioware and published by Black Isle Studios (a division of Interplay) in 1998. Also, a large city that is one of the focuses of the game.

Baldur's Gate was the first of Black Isle's games to use the Infinity engine, which enabled both real-time and turn based gameplay. This was done by setting a certain amount of time for the rounds and turns done in turn based mode. Thus, though it appeared to be real-time, the engine's real-time mode could arguably be called pseudoreal-time. Other games that made use of this engine were: Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate II. Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment were both developed by Bioware's publisher, Black Isle.

The game uses the rules of 2nd Edition AD&D and takes place in the Dungeons and Dragons world of the Forgotten Realms. Throughout the game, the player character and his or her party will travel through the cities of Baldur's Gate and Beregost, the library fortress of Candlekeep, the Friendly Arm Inn, the mining town of Nashkel, and explore the surrounding areas of the Sword Coast. Baldur's Gate won numerous game-of-the-year/RPG-of-the-year type awards from various gaming publications and really put Bioware in the spotlight. The game has tons of side quests, in addition to the already somewhat epic main quest.

The plot of Baldur's Gate is as follows: You, the player character, are an orphan that was raised in Candlekeep by a famous and influential sage called Gorion. Aside from your friend Imoen, who is also an orphan and about your age, there are pretty much no other children in Candlekeep. You have no knowledge of your heritage aside from knowing that your mother died during or shortly after giving birth to you. After twenty years of living within the walls of Candlekeep, Gorion informs you to buy equipment and get ready to leave as soon as possible but won't tell you why (this is where actual gameplay begins). When you do leave with Gorion that night, the two of you are ambushed by a couple of armored figures and their ogre henchmen. Since you're a weak level one character at this point, Gorion orders you to run. Despite using his spells to kill the ogres, Gorion is slain, leaving you alone in the woods to find your way. The game from then on concerns you finding out who Gorion's killers are and why they did it, which eventually exposes a vast conspiracy along the Sword Coast regarding a recent rise in banditry, a shortage of iron, and assassination plots against the Grand Dukes of Baldur's Gate. You'll also discover something rather interesting about your lineage along the way, something much more important than you would have thought (unless you tend to think in a Biblical manner).

The maximum number of people in the player's party can at one time be six (player character included). The player will encounter quite a few non-player characters (NPCs) along the way that can join the party of varying classes and alignments. Having both evil and good aligned NPCs in the same party can sometimes prove disasterous as an argument between opposite aligned characters can end in bloodshed. The party has a reputation throughout the game represented by the numbers one through twenty. The higher your reputation, the more liked you are by the general populace. Evil aligned NPCs prefer your reputation be lower, as it means you've done more evil things, while good aligned NPCs prefer the opposite. Neutral characters prefer a reputation that is neither exceedingly high nor exceedingly low. If one's reputation should fall too low, guards from the Flaming Fist (Baldur's Gate's military/police force) try to hunt you down. A higher reputation has the benefit of lowering store prices at shops. One common complaint about Baldur's Gate is that it's too hard to play as an evil character, as one's infamy spreads instantly and makes things a lot harder.

NPCs encountered that can join the party:

*Asterisk denotes the NPC is somewhat or outright insane (which actually makes their presence more entertaining).

The player can play as a human, elf, half-elf, halfling, dwarf, or gnome of any D&D aligment. The player can be a fighter, ranger, paladin (human only), cleric, druid, thief, bard, mage (either a plain mage, an abjurer, conjurer, diviner, enchanter, illusionist, invoker, nercromancer, or transmuter), or any valid mutliclass combination (non-human only). While humans cannot multiclass, they can dual class. Dual classing is done when a character stops gaining levels in his or her current class and begins in another. This can only be done if the character has a high amount of points in the prime requisite stat (strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, charisma) of the class he or she is switching to.

The game supports up to six people in multiplayer mode. One person can control up to six characters he or she created (rather than just one and up to five pre-created NPCs) by starting a multiplayer game with no other real people playing. Unfortunately, multiplayer wasn't very stable for Baldur's Gate, even after a couple patches. There was an expansion made for the game titled Tales of the Sword Coast, which featured Durlag's Tower (an abandoned, trap/monster/treasure-filled locale suitable for dungeon crawling) and another side quest which took the party to an uncharted island full of werewolves and wolfweres.

The game was originally released on five compact discs. In 1999, Interplay produced a DVD-ROM version with the whole game all on one disc. The requirements for the game are:

List of NPCs gathered from planetbaldursgate.com.

There's also a PlayStation 2 version of the game. Those looking for an updated port of the PC addiction will gag, however, as the PS2 Baldur's Gate is much more mindless hack 'n slash than it's PC father, to the point where it's been dismissed as "PS2's Diablo 2". Really though, that's a harsh insult, as Baldur's Gate is a fine game in it's own right, if you like the whole "kill monsters, get cool stuff, kill more monsters and get even cooler stuff, level up, repeat" thing. The graphics engine is quite nice, most of the boss battles are amusing, if a bit simply implemented, and there's even a few odd platforming elements (that are thankfully short, as the engine isn't really meant for such things. Good little diversion though). The interface is also very well laid out, and while it uses every button (save the analog stick buttons) on the PS2 controller, everything becomes very comfortable after a small amount of time with the game.

There are small problems with the game, though. Some of the boss battles are downright uninspiring. There's no resistance/weakness system set up for elements (this may have to do with the fact that certain elements do more damage than others), and yet undead take more damage from blunt weapons. There really is no excuse for a lack of a character creation option, as the story changes little (if at all!) between the three main characters you can select (those being a human archer, an Elven sorceress, and a Dwarven fighter).

Really though, a lot of this is nitpicking. This is a polished game, through-and-through, and IGN's 9.3 review score only reinforces it. It's just a pity that the game seems to have fared poorly (It's one of the few non-budget PS2 games that you can get new at stores for $30), as I would've loved to see an expanded sequel. Really though, it's no suprise, as it was doomed as soon as the name Baldur's Gate was slapped onto the DVD jewel case. The name immediately attracts the hardcore RPG crowd, and they all (unsuprisingly) turned their noses up at it. Much like the PC's Diablo 2, it had too much to live up to. As my friend Andrey said about the latter, "if it was called 'generic game number #4877836', it would've been huge".

A city in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons.

Baldur's Gate, which gives its name to the computer game in which much of the action takes place within the city is a large city situated on the Chionthar River, about twenty miles from the sea.

It was founded by the great hero Balduran, who gave his name to the city. The city has become very cosmopolitan, and a great centre of trade, being conveniently halfway between Amn and Waterdeep. The population is estimated at around 4200, most of whom are human, althought there are a significant number of gnomes.

Baldur's Gate is quite a rough city, and as such has a large and active city guard, marked out by their black helmets with red stripes. The city has no standing army of its own, but its military needs are served by the Flaming Fist mercenary company, led by Eltan, who make their base of operations in Baldur's Gate.

The most noticable features in the city are temples:

  • Gond's High Hall of Wonders
  • The Lady's Hall (A temple to Tymora)
  • The Water Queen's House (Dedicated to Umberlee)

Sources: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Baldurs Gate computer game, and BGII game.

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