Written by Erik Kubik, kube00 Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:00
By the mid-90s PC gamers tended to lean toward FPS and Strategy games. Like a lot of gamers I have fond memories of Jedi Knight, Quake 1 and 2, Doom, Age of Empires, Tomb Raider 2, Warcraft 2, Total Annihilation, and the the list goes on and on. But I happened to read a review in PC Gamer that would change my gaming perspective forever on one genre that would open the floodgates of RPGs for so many gamers like myself.
It was 1999 and I had just finished reading the review of Baldur's Gate in PC Gamer and I was debating between Oni and this so called western RPG from Black Isle known as Baldur’s Gate. Both of the games had really good reviews and the guys at Software Etc told me to give Baldur's Gate a try and return it in a week if I didn't like it. I had my doubts but based on the screenshots I was intrigued. I thought all RPGS were long and complicated and were for super nerds. This was based on what I knew about Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and JRPGs in general. I had recently gotten into emulation and most of the SNES RPGS held very little interest to me.
I had been interested in Forgotten Realms books so naturally I had a basic idea of what Baldur's Gate was about. Who knew that these 5 CDs would captivate me for years to come? I was hooked on the character creator; it took me several tries and several times of starting the game over after playing for 3-4 hours to figure out what I wanted. I went with a Gnome thief/mage that was aligned as neutral and I discovered a great adventure with a great story. I could go anywhere and kill anything. I also discovered the cheats system, giving my party rare items and gold, which made things a little easier. This game kept me busy through all of 1999 and into 2000. I beat it several times playing each adventure more than 20 hours. I tried some of the other classes like mages and fighters and found myself enjoying each one. Granted a few years later I passed it on to my brother who played the heck out of the game as well.
From here RPGs were a blast to play and they became my go to game behind FPS games. Of course I borrowed Icewind Dale 1 and 2 from a friend. I bought Baldur’s Gate II years later when it came out. I was hooked on Diablo 2 for several years, even in 2003 when I was in college. I gave Fallout 2 a try. Sadly I still really haven’t given JRPGs another chance. But Baldur’s Gate led me to games such as Mass Effect 2 , Fallout 3 and others have become a must play for me. I need to go back and give Planescape: Torment a try and I want to play through Neverwinter Nights again. Baldur's Gate and most of the late 90s RPGs can be found cheap on their own or as part of a collection.