Review by OutOfRange

"Luckily I Had My Amulet Of Patience + 6 On While I Played This"

This is a pick up and play version of Baldur's Gate, certainly nothing like it's PC counterparts. There's little character modification, and practically no side quests, instead it's a linear, straightforward ‘action' RPG. It's an extremely short game, so why would I need patience to play it? Because of it's incredibly flawed gameplay. +6? Because that's all the hours it lasted for...

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Storyline (4/10)
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Despite having three characters to choose from, whichever you select all have the exact same storyline experience. You're an adventurer who gets robbed in Baldur's Gate and end up in the local tavern. The storyline then continues it's linear path of starting and finishing small quests to build up the bigger picture. Although it starts off with trying to get your revenge on the guys that stole all your equipment, it quickly descends into the typical; only you can save the world storyline. It's not that it's a terrible storyline, and at least gives you reasons for going to all the different environments, my main problem with it is that for the most part it's irrelevant. There are huge amounts of text that you're forced to sit through, and despite often being given a choice of responses, for the most part, the information you get has no worth. The storyline's main problem is that it's easily forgettable, and you end up backing the monsters apart out of habit rather than because the storyline commands you to do it.

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Gameplay (4/10)
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The basic gameplay consists of going around different dungeons beating up a variety of monsters by hammering the X button. It's extremely simplistic and so you shouldn't have any problems progressing with the gameplay, and the controls are pretty well designed so they're not too bad either. However, the gameplay does suffer from a number of problems, the main being that despite being given three characters to choose from at the beginning each with a different class, their effect on the gameplay is minimal. Playing as the archer, you would hope that using the bow would be rewarded, however, the bows you get are extremely weak compared to the melee weapons and fire slowly. The second disadvantage is that as the archer, your level up skills mostly feature arrow improvements such as flaming arrow, but since you'll rarely use the bow, it's a waste, the same with the sorceress. The final disadvantage of being either of these two classes is that despite having ‘ranged' attacks, by the time you've fired one round or spell off, the enemy that was on the opposite side of the screen is now pummelling away at you and since you move incredibly slowly, you can't generate any distance between you and the enemy. All this means that you're being penalised for not being the warrior, since you're going to be using melee attacks for the most part anyways. My further complaint with the characters is how pointless levelling up is; since the damage you do and receive is determined by your weapons and armour, your stats are almost pointless and the skills you can learn aren't all that useful, and in fact the only useful ones I found were for critical hits.

With these basic gameplay elements being flawed, it makes the rest of the game a chore to sit through. However, that said, it only took six hours to complete, which at full price is horrendous, but I bought it for £8, and thus wasn't so miffed. The fact is that very few gameplay elements work properly, for example, the monsters will literally run around in circles. The lack of side quests was also annoying, since Act 1 had a few, but there are none in the following acts.

Despite all it's flaws, this game confuses me, since I didn't mind playing it, probably because I knew beforehand how short is was going to last. This game is a good replacement for those who like the idea of Baldurs Gate, but either don't like playing games on the PC, or don't have the time to devote to the PC versions of the series. The PC games always required you to sit and play for long periods of time, just to get through a couple of quests, and the game was filled with them. This game is almost the exact opposite of that, and the fact that it's a console game is the reason for this. With no Diablo on the PS2, this is the nearest you'll be able to get, and while there are a number of hack and slash games available, this isn't that bad in comparison. The game also has a multiplayer mode, which does give it an extra bit of life, but I didn't find the experience to be enough to save the game. Overall, while extremely flawed, it does provide a fair few hours of gameplay, and in all honesty is probably the epitome of generic, average gameplay.

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Graphics (6/10)
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You get to fight in a variety of different environments, and while they do all look different and some are nice to look at, the individual maps for each dungeon all look the same, with lots of the same textures being used over and over. The water effects are pretty good, especially considering the age of the game, but it would have been nicer for it to have a gameplay effect as well, such as slowing movement down, as this would have helped for developing fighting tactics as well. However, as it is, it's simply a graphical feature. The monster and character designs are good, and the game doesn't use the process of reusing monsters, but giving them different colours to show that they're stronger than the previous monsters you fought. Something that really annoyed me though, is despite giving you full control to rotate the camera in some places, it others, it's fixed, and whenever it's fixed, it seems to be at a direction that causes the environments to obscure half the screen. I was also annoyed by the lack of a north arrow on the map; on a lot of maps, when you load the game up, it's hard to work out which way you were intending to go, especially when you've done a bit of backtracking and thus have all sides of the map explored.

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Sounds (4/10)
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Unfortunately, nowhere near as good as the graphics, both the monsters and characters sound generic for the most part and the ones that don't sound worse. The few set lines your characters have to say to inform you of circumstances are annoying to hear over and over, such as; “I can't do that here”. There is background music, but for the most part it's faded out and it's often silent for the most part, with wind blowing. It does build up tension for a little, but when you're having no problems killing the monsters, and you know that you're only going up against spider number 121 around the corner, it's wasted. The voice acting is pretty good, but when you start skipping all the text because there's simply too much to sit through, it's just another thing that's wasted.

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Lifespan (2/10)
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As I mentioned earlier in this review, the game only took six hours to complete. With practically no side quests, there's also very little reason to play through the game again, since there's little you can do different between plays. There's also no reason to do it with different characters, since as I said, you won't be using their differences for the most part. Instead, once you've finished the game, there really is no reason to play the game again. Considering the price of it isn't high nowadays it probably is worth the price of it, and maybe if you can convince someone to play the multiplayer mode with you, you may have a reason to play through again. But on the whole, it's a short experience, and doesn't exactly excite while you're playing it. Even though it has a short duration, you'll probably be bored before you finish.

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Summary (4/10)
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Again, if you're buying this under the opinion it will be a console version of the PC Baldur's Gate, then don't. This should be considered a entirely different series, since it only really shares plot and some basic gameplay elements with the PC versions. This is something more along the lines of Diablo or Gauntlet than a traditional RPG, which is a shame, since in many ways I think having it more like the PC games would have been a benefit. However, as it is, it may provide some distraction while waiting for a different game to be released, but be warned, it's short and offers very little, so the chances are unless you like this kind of thing, the game will not offer you very much. This game can be summed up by comparing it to it's arsenal of weapons; while there are lot of different weapons to choose from, you end up using them in the same way, in the same way that you can choose a character and equip them as you like, but in the end, you'll play the game the same way regardless.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/17/07


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