I have this strange relationship with the Baldur’s Gate series. Actually, this applies to the whole Infinity engine family of games; BG, Icewind Dale 1&2, and Planescape Torment. But we’ll focus on Baldur’s Gate here first.
I got Baldur’s Gate as a random present from one of my mom’s friends wayyyyy back in 1998. I was immediately hooked; it was only the second game I had ever played that gave me so many choices (the other was Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for the NES). It was top-down, which allowed for incredible strategic elements. It had dialogue choices that meant something. It had humor, seriousness, epicness. It had it all.
Baldur’s Gate 2 was just a continuation, but stacking complex high-level spell combat on top of the already wonderful freedom and storytelling. It also had one of the best villains in video game history, Jon Irenicus, who was voice-acted tremendously by David Warner.
I consider both of those games heavily influential on my gaming tastes. I consider them both among the best PC games ever made, if not among the best games ever made, regardless of system.
I’ve never beaten either of them. This is baffling.
I’ve certainly found it harder in recent years to complete games. I often reach a point where I go “I get it” and put a game down, regardless of where I am. I never beat Final Fantasy 9, despite getting to the final area. I did the same with Final Fantasy 13 (though didn’t get quite as far, but I did get to the point where the game opened up). I’ve done it with a few Ultima games. And I did it with BG and BG2.
I’m not sure if they’re too long or what, but I have just never finished them. I certainly got quite far into BG1, but never beat it, nor did any of the expansion content. I got somewhat far in BG2 in the sidequests, but never advanced the main storyline past breaking into Spellhold, which is barely halfway, I think.
I’m currently trying to do a full playthrough of both, starting a character in BG: Enchanced Edition, play through it all plus the expansion content, then import the character into BG2 and do the same there. I doubt I’ll make it, if previous attempts inform future actions.
I think it might be the combat. It can range from mundane to ruthless, and I don’t think I like either. I feel that my time is wasted with a fight with a few kobolds, but then my time is wasted when staring down a Beholder and six Yuan-Ti mages, which is pretty tough.
Or it might be all the freedom. I often restart the game multiple times since I can’t decide which class to play. I’ve found in other games that I can be paralyzed by choice, and end up putting the game down rather than settle on a certain race, class, or playstyle.
I had a startling thought just now. Maybe I just want to play actual table-top D&D.
Luckily, I’ll be doing that this weekend. I’ll write on that as well.