Review by recoil
"An immersive and beautiful gaming experience."
One word can describe Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance easily: Immersive. From the second I put the disc into my PS2 I was hooked. This was my first outing into the Baldur's Gate series of games, and I must say that I have been greatly impressed. But now that we've got my first impressions out of the way, let's get on with the review.
Story: An important part of any game is the story, and how it is presented. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance tells it's story well and is aided in this by the NPC's (Non Player Characters) that you meet on your quest to rid the land of the evils that have befallen it. What struck me first is the top-notch voice acting throughout the game. My only complaint is that there aren't that many people that you can talk to. Instead of being able to speak to any NPC that you would like, you're limited to a handful in each of the different areas that you enter. Despite this minor complaint, I think that the story department of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is above par.
Graphics and Sound: I'll start off with the graphical presentation. Impressive! Every texture in the game is highly detailed, right down to the dirt. The spells are especially entertaining to watch. Some fill the screen with bright colored explosions, all the while keeping the frame rate steady. Another highlight is the ripple effect of the water in this game. If you've seen the water in Ico or Metal Gear Solid 2 and thought you'd seen the best, I hate to burst your bubble. If you haven't guessed yet, I was completely bowled over with the great graphics. As for the sound department, there's nothing to complain about. Each different creature that you come across makes its own distinct noise, as do their weapons. As you wander along through sewers or caves you can even hear enemies making sounds in the distance as you approach. The music is light and unobtrusive, only making itself known every once in a while. In other words, the sound is above average in every category.
Fun Factor: Extremely high. The game is very action heavy, so if you're into splattering orcs and pummeling the walking dead, look no further. You can choose between an archer, a dwarf, and a sorceress, all of which have unique abilities unavailable to the other classes. My biggest complaint about the whole game comes in the fact that the enemies don't re-spawn. In other words, when you kill an enemy it lays right where you killed it with nothing coming along to replace it. Though it is cool that the bodies lie there for the entirety of the game, it kind of limits how much gold and experience you can gain in each area. That's where another complaint comes in. There are only three main areas in the game. Which leads to something that you have all probably heard rumored. Yes, the game is very short. Depending on how much time you want to take in each level, I highly doubt it will take you more than 12 hours to beat the game at the most. In my opinion, this doesn't really detract from the game. Once you beat the game you still have two other character classes to play through the game with (and believe me, you'll want to!). So multiply 12 hours by three and you've got a lengthy game.
Overall: In my opinion this is one of the best games available for the PS2 right now. I've got Metal Gear Solid 2, Grand Theft Auto III, and Half-Life among other great PS2 titles, and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance hasn't been taken out of the system since I bought it. There will probably be some of you out there that will discount the game because of it's length, but you'll be missing out on a great title. I think it was worth every penny I spent on it.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/01/01, Updated 12/01/01
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