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Is The Infinity Engine The Best RPG Platform Ever?

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#1 IMG News

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 11:35 AM

In a recent Gamespot column Matthew Rorie put forth the assertion that Bioware's Infinity Engine is head and shoulders above other RPG engines. He discusses the relative strengths and weaknesses of competitors to the Infinity Engine and the seeming decline of the single player RPG game in recent years.

So far as I'm concerned, though, RPG engines just don't get any better than the Infinity engine. Although it powered only five games over a five-year span (Baldur's Gate I and II, Icewind Dale I and II, and Planescape Torment, not counting expansions), and can't match Neverwinter Night's flexibility in modding or the pandemic number of D&D releases from SSI in the late '80s and early '90s, I still think the Infinity games were perhaps the perfect marriage of form and functionality when it comes to computer RPGs. The graphical elements, even for the first Baldur's Gate game, are still as beautiful as ever, thanks to their reliance on painted backdrops, while the faux-real-time combat system handily meshed the turn-based underpinnings of the pen-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons game with the fluidity and speed of play of any true real-time game. The storylines (Icewind Dale notwithstanding) are also still among the longest and most satisfying of any epic RPGs of recent years, with the Baldur's Gate series being notable for letting you take a party of level-one characters from Baldur's Gate and guide them all the way to Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, an expansion pack to the sequel that let some characters reach all the way to level 40.
The Infinity Engine gave birth to some of the most successful and critically acclaimed RPGS of all time and continues to have an active modding community. For the entire column follow the link below.
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#2 hambone



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Posted 04 August 2005 - 03:32 PM

there is some merit to this assertion in terms of blending graphics with gameplay. the limited 3D of Neverwinter Knights added almost nothing compared to BGII, and indeed sacrificed much lushness of detail.

however, I would argue that well textured, well-rendered, true 3D experiences -- such as WoW -- do provide a more immersive sense for RPGs, and will eventually compete with 2D games in terms of detail and fidelity. something of the quality and detail of Doom or Quake 4 set in a fantasy universe would be nothing should of the next stage of RPG evolution.

however, in terms of pure gameplay mechanics alone *for the single-player experience*, i would argue that 3D has a long way to go. 2D is inherently more intuitive, and typically more rewarding. there are rarely awkward moments in a 2D universe, yet you can still do everything you can in a 3D one, such as open items, leave items on the floor, exchange items with others, engage in PvE combat, enter/exit buildings and rooms, sneak/hide, etc.

on the other hand, a 2D *multiplayer* and PvE experience is rather dull. period.