One of the nice things about life in our late-capitalist dystopia of the future is that all of the old video games I wanted to play as a kid but never had the means to play are available in some form or another. Cheap nostalgia mostly sucks, as does the inability of nerds to let anything die, so it’s nice to see some tangible benefits manifest. There were a lot of games I was deeply interested in as a kid that I just didn’t get to play – maybe it came out at a time when we didn’t have any money, maybe it wasn’t available for rent at the Video Magic, maybe it was only released in Japan – you get the idea.
Since then, I’ve been tracking down as many games I ‘missed out’ on as I reasonably can. When I was 14, I got a job bagging groceries for (more or less) the sole purpose of buying PS2, which I was mostly interested in because it played all the PS1 games I had read so much about. I scoured bins upon bins of used sports games to find a copy of NFL 2K5, and eventually triumphed. For many years, my personal holy grail of video games was Metal Gear 2, which was released on MSX and therefore not broadly available to U.S. audiences. That is, until it was included as a bonus on the second disc of Metal Gear Sold 3: Subsistence, over a decade ago. It was pretty good.
My point is, all these games are out there now, and most of them can be acquired pretty easily. And so it was that this past Friday, I picked up Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition off of Steam. Since then, my life has been nothing but an endless stream of points and clicks, and I fear that in downloading this insanely dope game, I have set myself on the path to inevitable ruin.
Baldur’s Gate is based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, and the story is set on the Sword Coast, which these days is practically the default Dungeons & Dragons setting. You make your own character from scratch, according to the 2nd Edition rules. You move, talk, and interact with objects by pointing and clicking. You recruit new party members, and set their default behaviors in combat. Combat is technically turn-based, but it doesn’t feel turn-based; you pause in order to give your character and party members orders, and then the combat plays out in real-time, according to the instructions you’ve given. All of this results in game play that is intuitive, and only as complex as you want it to be. It is exactly everything I have ever wanted from a D&D video game.
A couple of months ago, I replayed Dragon Age: Origins which was hailed as the successor to Baldur’s Gate at the time of it’s release. While the impulse to make this declarations was understandable, as both games were developed by BioWare, this is akin to declaring a 16-pack of bullshit American cheese slices as the successor to a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. DA:O was fun enough, but it’s also total bullshit. Over ten years prior, Baldur’s Gate had DA:O beat in every single aspect of gameplay. Baldur’s Gate has more character creation options, more party member options, more exploration, easier to control (and more fun) combat, and less MMO stink. It may not look as nice, and it may not have as much of an emphasis on story, but Baldur’s Gate is a billion times better.
Now that I have Baldur’s Gate, my life is over. I cannot complete basic household tasks, as they take away valuable time that could (and should!) be spent playing Baldur’s Gate. Here is a partial list of chores I have blown off in order to play more Baldur’s Gate:
-Cleaning the grill
-Gassing up the car
-Brushing my teeth
-Picking up dirty laundry
-Sweeping the floor
-Washing the wine glasses
Again, this is but a partial list. When in public, or in conversation with my wife, I have to scour the depths of my brain for things to talk about that are not related to Baldur’s Gate. When playing with the puppy, I secretly yearn for him to be done receiving pets so that I can get back to what’s really important, which is playing Baldur’s Gate. When I sit down to read, I can only stick with it for about 30 minutes, because reading is dope and all, but it’s not playing Baldur’s Gate. Writing for this website has been great for me and my writing, but I am resentful of its demands, because writing is not the same as playing Baldur’s Gate. By the end of this week, I’m going to have to update my resume to include Baldur’s Gate.
It is time to conclude this blog, because it is distracting me from Baldur’s Gate. This is my life now. I will see you again after I finish the game to my satisfaction, which will never happen.
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