Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Rick Casteel
STAFF REVIEWER (originally posted at Christian Computing Magazine)

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Interplay
Price Range: $20
ESRB rating: Teen
Patches / Upgrades: on Web site
System Requirements: P120 with a 2meg video card and 16 Megs of RAM

Genre: Role Playing Game (RPG)
Christian Rating: 2 of 5
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 3 of 5

Some Christians may be familiar with the dice and board game known as "Dungeons and Dragons". The game relies on a standardized set of rules developed and maintained by the TSR company. A player would serve as “Dungeon Master” (DM) and guide a group of players through a fantasy where the players would make decisions, engage enemies, and work through various quests using rolls of the dice and the discretion of the DM to determine how the game proceeds.

Screenshot from 'Baldur's Gate' The game has received some bad press in the Christian and secular press due to some children and teens becoming obsessed with the fantasy and magical elements of the game. Despite this, the game continues to be popular and has been developed into computer games such as “Ravenloft” and "Dark Sun".

“Baldur's Gate” is the latest computer title developed using the D&D theme and rules. In it, a player is first required to develop a character. The character classes you have to choose from are Warriors, Rouges, Priests and Wizards. You also choose to play as a male or female, your race (human, elf, etc.) and alignment (good, neutral, evil). As you can see, the player is given the option to play a potentially evil character that uses magic. This presents an issue for the game from a Christian perspective. There is a tremendous amount of magic use, mention of other gods, and interaction with characters that are aligned with Evil. A player may decide to be aligned as “Good” but have to join up with “Evil” characters. Good is defined as playing by the rules and law of the land, where evil character can engage in thievery, lying, drunkenness and, murder. This will make the game off-limit to many Christians and leads me to recommend it be restricted from children, young teens and, others not mature in their faith or uncomfortable with such elements in a game.

The violence in the game is moderate. There are many battles and fights that end in characters being killed or destroyed by weapons or spells during your quest. Many times the figure will just fall over but there can be blood or severed limbs shown in the wake of battle. Again, as part of game play, if you've designed your character to utilize it, magic is used as a weapon that can destroy, manipulate or conjure during battle. Swords, pikes, maces and other medieval weaponry are the primary implements of war for many of the “Fighter” class of characters. This can make for an unbalanced fighting system and sway users to the develop characters that use magic as a way to progress in the game.

Adult issues are presented in the game in a variety of ways. Some female characters are drawn in provocative styles with scanty clothing. There are also characters that get drunk and the occasional use of foul language. A player can go into a tavern and order alcohol for himself and others if he wishes and even get drunk himself. While it may not fit the Adult Content definition from the perspective of sexual situations, these others factors were considered when giving the score of 3.

The gameplay is interesting if you are into adventure games, player interaction and plot. You start out the game the ward of an old wizard. Suddenly, you and the wizard start off on a trip that goes unexplained to you. Early on you are attacked, your protector killed and your find yourself wandering the country side trying to uncover the mystery of who you are. The story line is interesting and moving your character around to different environments and locations fun. I tire quickly however, of the inventory management and conversation with various NPC (non-player-characters). In most cases the character addresses you after which you have a choice of responses. Scripted events occur based on your choice. Sometimes I found myself saving the game, choosing a response, not liking the outcome and rerunning the event and trying another response. Honestly, I'm not an RPG fan and found myself losing interest quickly. But the play was smooth and kept the plot moving along at a good rate.

All in all, if you are a mature RPG fan and accept what you're going to encounter, you may enjoy the game. As for me, I'm waiting for "Descent 3"!

Year of Release—1998

Positive—The game is not as violent as the reviewer makes it sound. Yes, you do kill people (sometimes get killed), but I have never seen anybody's body parts strewn about. I think there is a setting to turn that on/off. This is a great game. I am currently playing the sequel Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Marc Curtis, age 26

…all the dieties mentioned are pantheonic-type dieties (ala Greek or Egyptian myths) taken from the “Dungeons and Dragons” game setting of Forgotten Realms. Some of these dieties are loosely based off of real myths, some were created wholecloth.
   —Adam Borgeson

Yes, the game is biased toward good parties. Good! Here is hoping that goes on for the rest of the series. Yes, the premise is that you have the blood of an evil idol's avatar (yes, demonic). You are to fight your hertiage all the way if you choose to (and I suggest you do) fighting the temptations of your sinful nature and constantly putting to death those thoughts. Sound familiar? I guess what you have to watch out for is going through a whorehouse to slay some of the boss' allies. That does keep it from a perfect score. Some will also say magic use. All I can say is to keep your own *Bible* based convictions strong (study out divination, etc.) and if your children want to play, have a family devotional on what is real magick and what is not (that is my conviction). My favorite NPC is Minsc. His exuberence for doing good and his childlike qualities are admirable (so its from a bump to the head…so what?). Soon you will be crying "Butt kicking for goodmess!" along with him! My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Cornelius, age 35

Just to add something to what the previous person said. If you choose to be good you can still do many evil things. Many walkthroughs recommend steps to gain more money, experiences, etc. For example one said that if you calm this guy down in a tavern you gain this much experience but then you can kill him for the items and moeny he has, gain more experience and not lose any reputation (a measure of your goodness). FYI, I am not a Christian. I'm just adding some additional info the previous person missed. I will not give a Christian rating.
   —The Mysterious Magic Wielding Wizard Blah, age 18, non-Christian

Comments from Young People…

Positive—BG was my first RPG. I love this game. It's a lot of fun being able to play as an Elven Fighter/Mage, or an Elven Ranger, or just about any Elven or Half-Elven class. I'm still waiting for the first Christian reviewer to realize the difference between the magic in games such as BG, Icewind Dale, Harry Potter, or most other RPGs and real life. In the aforementioned settings, Magic is mechanical or a gift. You do not get the magic of a mage by praying to Satan or any of the forms an author might give him in a fantasy setting. Clerics, on the other hand, must pray to their deity for their spells. The deities of the Forgotten Realms vary, and each has their own alignment. Just as an example, there is Mask, the evil god of thieves; Lolth, the evil goddess of chaos, Mielikki, the good goddess of wisdom and nature, Silvanus, the neutral god of druids. Ah, druids, another point worth mentioning, the druids in this game are not evil as they were in our world, but true neutral caretakers serving only the Balance. I just felt that the difference between BG magic and real world magic should be pointed out. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Jennifer, age 16

Positive—The reviewer for this game seems to be a little biased, always mentioning the bad things about the game such as all the stuff about magic, other gods, and evil alignment. I played the entire game with a good aligned party and didn't cast a single spell. Also the storyline doesn't focus much on the other gods. This is an excellent game and I recommend it to any roleplaying fans. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Matthew Theerman, age 15

I want to correct a statement the reviewer made for this game. I quote, "A player may decide to be aligned as “Good” but have to join up with “Evil” characters." In reality, I completed the game without ever having to put Evil characters in my party. So you MAY join up with Evil characters, you don't HAVE to. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —TarCar, age 14

This game is extremely good. In fact, I am playing it as I type this. I would like to point out a few things the reviewer failed to do, however: 1. The alcohol is all fancifully named and does not in any way resemble real beer or liquor. 2. The player does not choose a god for themselves. 3. You are discouraged from being evil. 4. Actually, the system encourages you to use swords, shields, pikes, etc, since mages are weak early on. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Anonymous, age 15, non-Christian

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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