Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
Black Isle Studios
Developer
Snowblind
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Visually impressive
• Top notch audio
• Great battle and experience systems

The Bad

• A little light in the story
• Could use more sidequests

 
Grade
A-

To call Baldur's Gate a Diablo clone would be unfair. Just because the game plays from an axonometric view and involves real-time combat against hordes of monsters does not instantly label a game that proves to have deep development and combat systems. Baldur's Gate hails back to the pencil and paper role playing games of Dungeons & Dragons in which the player starts with a character and over time gains experience, levels, skills and magic. The story starts fairly simple, with your character of choice (archer, dwarf or magic-user) being mugged and almost murdered on the streets of Baldur's Gate. From that point, you must travel into the sewers to find the thieves that attacked you, only to uncover a deeper plot.

Graphics:
Snowblind has pulled out all of the stops in building this game. To say that the visual effects are stunning would be an understatement. Water effects are gorgeous, especially since the water reacts to movement and even if something is knocked into it. Lighting effects are useful and just give the game an excellent glossy look. The levels are well designed and the hordes of monsters that are taken straight from Dungeons & Dragons are well detailed and faithful to traditional descriptions. Part of the fun in this game is running through a dungeon and running into a monster like a Gelatinous Cube or Beholder and instantly recognizing what the beast is. Every aspect of the game looks top-notch and will not disappoint.

Gameplay:
While the basic concept behind the game is your normal hack and slash real-time combat, there is a lot more that you can do. The control setup allows the player a variety of options while during battle: switching from one set of equipped weapons to another; changing spells and skills by using the directional pad and then using them in combat; quick access to health and mana replenishing items. Buying weapons and equipment will let the player customize their attack and defense. Gaining new levels gives the player points to purchase skills that aid in development or combat. Baldur's Gate adheres to the conventions of Dungeons & Dragons and does it well. Using the environment (doorways, explosive barrels) to your benefit will aid in keeping your character alive longer.

Audio:
Voice-overs are handled well as the player interacts with other characters to find out more of the story, gain additional quests and all around info about the world. The music and sound effects add a certain quality that draws the player into the game, fleshing out the ambiance of the game and successfully creating a solid package.

The Bad:
There is very little I wasn't pleased with when playing this game. Combat, character development, visuals and audio all work well towards a total package. Some gamers may find the story a little light. While I felt the story was there enough to move the game along, people spoiled by turn-based RPGs may hunger for more than what they get. The only thing I really wish had happened was the inclusion of more side quests and possibly a longer game. Baldur's Gate can take from 15 to 20 hours to beat.

Any fan of real-time RPGs should put their hands on this game. It's an especially high quality game that really feels like a true adventure. Baldur's Gate is all of the best things about Dungeons & Dragons without the annoying people you used to have to play with and the bother of keeping up with stats and dice rolls.

- - Kinderfeld

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