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PC Gamer has published a retrospective look on the original Baldur's Gate, the title that, more than anything, made BioWare's fortunes, rightfully considered by many an RPG classic. Here's a snippet from the article:
One of the most striking things about the game is how much personality it has. A lot of fantasy, especially in the D&D mould, suffers from being overly earnest and po-faced, but Baldur's Gate fizzes with character, and is often genuinely hilarious. Even a random commoner on the street might have something amusing to say, and I think almost half of the 15 or so hours I've sunk into this replay have been spent talking to the many thousands of NPCs who litter the Sword Coast.
As you explore you're constantly bumping into interesting characters, from eccentric oddballs and mad wizards to pompous lords and drunken dwarves. You even meet the legendary Drizzt Do'Urden at one point, who you can kill for his powerful scimitars and mithril armour if you're particularly skilled. The wealth of text in the game means there's a lot of reading, but it's all brilliantly written and wonderfully witty, never taking itself too seriously.
There are 25 recruitable companions in the game, but unlike a lot of RPGs where characters will swear unfaltering allegiance to the hero regardless of their actions and goals, many of the characters in Baldur's Gate are fiercely independent. Minsc, of .iant miniature space hamster' fame, will join your party upon the agreement you'll help him rescue his partner, Dynaheir. But linger too long without pursuing this quest and he'll go into a rage and attack you.
Similarly, characters will abandon the party if your reputation goes against their alignment. Noble deeds will disgust evil characters like irascible conjurer Edwin, while imperious paladin Ajantis will love you for it. This makes these characters feel like real people with their own goals and motivations, although it can be maddening when you're in the middle of a dungeon and one suddenly decides to ditch you.