Archive for February, 2013

BioWare and Black Isle’s Baldur’s Gate series is one of the most critically and financially successful examples of a Western RPG, from the time when the genre was still largely confined to PCs. The games are well known for their epic stories and vibrant characters. ¬†However, there is one category in which the series is rather uneven, and that’s in the character portraits. When you’re starting the game, you can choose your player character’s portrait. Most of them are fine (granted, most of them belong to another character in the game, but there are a few that are unique). But some of them are utterly atrocious. For the record, I’m not complaining about not having a good one to represent my characters, because these two are both very good choices.

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However, not all are so lucky. Take this bozo for example.

ImageWhat…is that Eric Idle? Seriously, look at the dude’s cloak- he doesn’t seem to have wide enough shoulders to actually have any arms. And most importantly, why is he making that weird little expression? I get the impression that he’s hooting like an owl.

Next up, we have this constipated-looking fellow.

ImageAside from the fact that his face says “me colon’s about to fire with the force of 1000 suns”, is he…really the guy you’d pick to be the hero in your RPG? He looks like he might play a mean round of golf, but somehow I kind of doubt he’ll be in for dungeon delving or trap-disarming.

Then, we have portraits that belong to actual non-player characters. This is Faldorn, a Druid you can acquire late in the game. There’s no real reason to, as she’s pretty fragile compared to Jaheira, the Druid/Fighter you’ve probably had in your party since the first hour of gameplay.

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She looks like what I assume cat owners do when they’re home alone and away from the kind of people who would shame them for owning furball-hocking microdemons that crap in a pan in their house. If I saw Faldorn in real life, I don’t think I’d imagine she was a Druid, but perhaps a Kindergarten teacher who snapped and started painting her face like one of the members of KISS.

And finally, we have Coran. He’s supposed to be a thief, but from his portrait, I’m thinking jester or an awkward teenage Green Lantern.

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I mean the hair, the creepy grin, the green domino mask- to say nothing of the bloody dagger- all conspire to make you feel uncomfortable around this fellow. To add to the horror, I’ve always imagined him as smelling vaguely of socks and sardines and having no concept of personal space.

So there you have some bizarre, awkward and creepy character portraits from one of the best RPG series ever made. And take heart, for although they did unleash these frightful aberrations upon us, the sequel weeded most of these out in favor of characters that actually worked.

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