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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