Tech: A Digital D&D Retrospective
A bunch of games, both for PCs and video game consoles, have tried to capture what makes D&D so fun to play (with a good DM, anyway). Some have been more successful than others, so I thought it'd be fun to take a look back at the various adaptations of the venerable RPG system:
Eye of the Beholder - Someone gave me this Super Nintendo cartridge for free, and I can see why. This is a straight dungeon crawl in the most literal sense - you're underneath Waterdeep, and you're hacking stuff to bits. With a first-person view and a crappy mapping system, the task often became frustrating. The controls were clunky, and I never really got into the game.
Planescape: Torment - Probably one of the best RPGs ever made. The game is set in the Planescape setting, where you play the Nameless One, an amnesiac who eventually meets a motley crew of companions from all over the Planes. The main character, in a perverse reversal of fantasy RPG mechanics, is immortal, and sometimes dying in combat actually helps you remember stuff. The story, voice acting, and artwork are all topnotch.
Tower of Doom - A slight rip-off of the famous "Golden Axe" series of fantasy sidescrolling beat-em-ups, "Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom" is a Capcom-developed arcade game where you beat the crap out of enemies in glorious 12-bit color, complete with a booming QSound voice saying "Welcome to the D&D world!" It was mindless arcade fun at its best, with the artists and such at Capcom doing a good job of anime-izing the D&D stereotypes into something stylish.
Baldur's Gate - Probably the closest anyone's ever come to replicating the typical tabletop D&D session, at least in single-player, is Baldur's Gate. Now, when I say typical D&D game, that has good points and bad points - you're going to fight tons of battles, meet some stock RPG characters and events ("you have been waylaid by enemies and must defend yourselves"), and get embroiled in a typical nigh-apocalyptic plot, crossing paths with Elminster, Volo, and Drizzt along the way. All in all, a fantastic RPG.
Neverwinter Nights 2 - The latest and greatest in a long line of RPGs. It's akin to Baldur's Gate, mixed with some KOTOR conveniences (party members automagically come back to life upon victory, for example). The jury's still out, but the game is at least competent in boiling down the 3.5 edition D&D rules into something that works in real-time.