RPGWatch Forums - View Single Post - Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition: Review Roundup #2
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December 7th, 2012, 21:32
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
"Stat crunching is good. Slow paced combat is good. Dungeons & Dragons is good. And combining all three seamlessly together remains very good indeed."

"There are no achievements to unlock, few second chances and plenty of completely unfair challenges to stumble into. I firmly believe everybody who loves RPGs should play Baldur's Gate; that's a given."

I pitty the fools who think that role playing is all about stat crunching, slow paced combat (a.k.a. dice rolling and number crunching in P&P RPGs) and Dungeons & Dragons and no second chances and unfair challenges. The real problem with Baldur's Gate isn't the outdated graphics and UI, the outdated game mechanics and the scarce voice acting (though all these are problems that come with the age…). The real problem with Baldur's Gate and all the other "good old fashioned cRPGs" is that they captured the worst side of P&P role playing games, which is the aspects mentioned on the reviews above: number crunching, slowness, a strategic approach to action and combat, lack of real immersion in the game world (having, instead, immersion in the game mechanics and the strategical aspect of gaming), an uncanny love for the kind of lame fantasy portrayed in most Dungeons & Dragons scenarios and (and this one is the big thing for everybody who is loving the resurrection of dead cRPGs) is the difficulty. The difficulty, by Jove! As if being more difficult had anything to do with role playing, interpreting characters and immersion in a fictional universe. On the good old days combat was hard, enemies were tougher, all happened in appalling turn based slow motion and there were no pointers to your objectives, so you had to spend hours dwelling on dungeons or whatever, searching for something you might not even know what it was. Great role play, indeed… Granted, they did the games like that because the multimedia and interactive aspects of emulating the "real" role playing experience was beyond them at that point, either for technical or monetary reasons, or both most probably. The easiest way to do it was to simulate the dice rolling and strategy parts of games like Dungeons and Dragons.
But guess what? Many role players hated that concept for many years - ever since other games and other concepts came out in the world of P&P. I'm sure that modern cRPGs have much more in common with first person shooters than Baldur's Gate had, but they also have fast paced action, interesting storytelling, nice voice acting (at least when compared to the "good ole' days"), rather nice looking graphics and emphasis on storytelling and interaction with NPCs- and that is the best way to emulate a good role playing experience ("role playing" meaning interpreting characters in a fictional story and not "roll playing"…).
It's a shame that this kind of hipster-geek fashion wave of good old games seems to be announcing the end of evolution of cRPGs. Maybe not the end, but the beginning of a cycle of repetitive retro bullshit, which, because is low-cost and have a solid base of fans desperate to throw away their money at kickstarters for projects that don't even exist yet. I really hope Bethesda and Bioware and other companies still interested in investing in cRPGs don't move to greener pastures when all those kickstarters start showing that a guy who lives in his parent's garage can make a cRPG (comparatively) almost as successful as a big budget game. Sigh.
Good grief. I guess I'm one of those people who you so nicely brand as "fools". I better don't ask what you consider to be "unfair challenges" in Baldur's Gate, which is a rather easy game. If you want to see difficult, try some of the Wizardry games.

I find the fear that these old school RPGs might somehow be able to kill AAA games pretty laughable. They cater to a rather small audience, too small to make AAA-style games viable. While there may be some people who object to modern graphics, most simply see that this is not affordable for makers of what you call "old school" RPGs. If you love RPGs, like I do, you just watch in horror how this whole genre is of the way of dying a slow death. Not everyone loves these ever more rule-free hiking simulators a la Skyrim or soap operas a la modern Bioware. These games don't only lose features all the time (what you consider the tedious rule set), but actually also roleplaying aspects that you claim to hold that high, in the sense that most of your deeds are without consequence and therefore meaningless.

Obviously, non-tactical battles with hardly a chance at losing in pretty scenery or elaborate pixelated "relationships" of the embarrassing kind are very popular, but not everyone loves them. You know, I like to have some game in my game.

To make this clear: I'm not a rabid old school fan who wants everything to look like in the late 90's. I loved BG and BG II, and Morrowind is also one of my favorite games. They are all pretty easy games, and Morrowind has lots of warts (also in the "lack of consequences" department), but they still had at least some gaming elements and worlds that had some thought behind them. I wouldn't mind games of this kind with pretty graphics. It's just that nobody has the money for it.
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