Role-playing Game of the Year
Publisher: Interplay Productions
"Not only is Baldur's Gate easily the best computer adaptation of AD&D ever, it also convincingly returns role-playing games to the forefront of computer gaming."
- Desslock, GameSpot Review
Every role-playing game in 1998 was far from perfect, so deciding on the best of the bunch almost felt like choosing between evils. That's not to suggest 1998 role-playing games were bad; on the contrary, there is no question that '98 was the best year for the genre in a long time. New World Computing got the year off to a great start with Might and Magic VI, Eidos kept the flame alive with a port of the blockbuster Final Fantasy VII, Interplay bade bon voyage to summertime with its strong sequel Fallout 2, and then finally topped itself just in time for the holidays with Bioware's Baldur's Gate. All these games were great, and yet all were problematic. Might and Magic VI was fun and easy to play, but tapered off into nonstop hacking and slashing toward the end of the game, lending the otherwise enjoyable RPG an anticlimactic, even disappointing finale. Final Fantasy VII stayed all too true to its console roots, with an interface designed for a gamepad rather than a keyboard, to say nothing of its video card compatibility issues. Fallout 2 at times felt like an add-on pack more than a sequel, and a seemingly endless list of bugs added a somewhat sour aftertaste to an otherwise exciting follow-up to the best RPG of '97.
Baldur's Gate, arguably the most highly anticipated of the group, suffered from a counter-intuitive interface and difficult-to-read text. Nevertheless, it succeeded in its ambition to become the best traditional role-playing game in years. The first officially Dungeons & Dragons licensed RPG since last year's abysmal Descent to Undermountain, Baldur's Gate captures all the trials and tribulations of pen-and-paper role-playing with stunning graphics, a thoughtful, involving story, and plenty of replay value. Unlike Might and Magic VI, Baldur's Gate builds to a crescendo over its long course. Unlike Final Fantasy VII, it is mostly nonlinear, although it does not sacrifice its story in the process. And unlike Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate is an all-new game, although its setting in the familiar Forgotten Realms universe provides it with a rich context.