Release Date :
July 26th, 1998
ESRB Descriptors :
Animated Blood, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Set in the Sword Coast region of the Forgotten Realms, Baldur's Gate was the first RPG to be released by BioWare and one of the most successful role-playing games based on Dungeons & Dragons, and indeed, one of the most successful role-playing games period, often credited to be one of the titles that revitalized the genre.
Based on the AD&D 2nd edition ruleset, Baldur's Gate follows the journey of the player character after the death of their guardian, Gorion, by the hands of a mysterious individual. Aside from the small background imposed to the character, players are free to choose from the many options that the game's adaption of the Dungeons & Dragons rules offers, although it should be noted that the level cap allows only 89,000 experience points (roughly around level 6 or 7).
The player's party is composed by their player character and the NPCs recruited along on, who react to the player character's alignment and sometimes have a personal quest, although both elements aren't nearly as developed as they are in modern BioWare RPGs.
The game is played from an isometric point of view and the combat system is of the Real Time with Pause variety, which means that although the game plays in real time you are able to pause the game and issue orders from there. Baldur's Gate also provides a multiplayer option that allows more than one player to play in a single party, or even just a single player to build their own party.
The focus on the game is on combat, story and exploration, with very little in the way of branching and reactivity: quests are rarely elaborate, and the bulk of the experience is not dissimilar from that of a dungeon crawler, with long, elaborated dungeons with interesting designs and enemies.