Baldur's Gate Retrospective

No doubt inspired by the digital release of Baldur's Gate and its Tales of the Sword Coast expansion on Good Old Games, the editors at Big Download have cranked out one of their "Boot Disk" retrospectives for BioWare's original Infinity Engine title. Good stuff, Boo:
Baldur's Gate's gameplay is nothing to sneeze at. The developers, despite pouring considerable time into making the world vibrant and alluring, also managed to infuse the gameplay with a pure sense of fun. You play within the AD&D framework, taking out enemies and learning skills as you progress in levels. Character progression and creation is fairly straightforward, and so is talking to NPCs. when you want to do something, you simply talk, and options become available like an adventure game. You can talk to anyone, including your companions, and most people always have something interesting to say. You can earn just as much (if not more) experience through non-violent means than you can through combat, so those that want to play peaceful, relaxed characters will have no problem.

Combat is definitely a strong point in Baldur's Gate. When you engage an enemy, the game plays out in pseudo-realtime: turns elapse so fast that, if left alone, the game pans out in real-time. However, the player can pause at any point to issue orders, which will then immediately be carried out. It makes the game somewhere between squad-level tactics and turn-based roleplaying, and would go on to inspire other incredible games, such as Freedom Force. There are plenty of classes to choose from, and while some are slightly better then others (the mage comes to mind) they are all generally quite useful. The combat controls itself is just and straightforward as the rest of the game, with the mouse controlling everything from moving to target designation to spellcasting.