edit: ive attached a photo of the normals. youll see ive circled the edges that need smoothing and when the entire model is smoothed, they look correct. the problem is that the faces that should be flat have a gradient when the normals are baked. those faces should be flat, however because the geometry is very low poly, the faces that need to be flat are shared with the edges that need to be smooth. adding more geometry defeats the purpose of baking normals. is there any way to solve this? flat shading on the entire model works to flatten the sides, though creates creases at every edge, and theres no way to smooth an edge it seems, only faces. ive tried edge split combinations, auto smooth etc.
i guess i could bake the normals flat shaded and blur the creases in photoshop or something.