"A solid effort by Blizzard."

Okay, so many people disliked this game because it apparently was too dumbed down for their tastes and not as complex as the PC Baldurs Gates. Well, this is supposed to be a review about this game and not how it compares to others so don't expect any of that. This is all about Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance for PS2 and how much fun I thought it was, and it certainly was fun let me tell you. The graphics are crisp and have a nice medieval feel to them, the game-play is simple enough to easily pick up, but not so much so that it gets boring, and you will probably find yourself playing this over and over again because it's just so damn fun. A closer look at the key elements below.

Graphics

As I mentioned earlier the graphics are very good; not awesome or even excellent, but very good. The environments are very diverse and it's obvious the developers put a lot of time into making them as detailed as they could. Everything is very crisp too, no sharp edges. The characters are pretty awesome too. They are well proportioned, and very realistic looking. Plus, every time you equip or de-equip any piece of equipment it shows up on your character. Very neat. Lastly, one of the coolest features graphically is the water animation. Every time you enter and walk through a pool of water ripples will radiate out from your character until they hit something else and then bounce back again, gradually losing power, just like real water. Sounds kinda weird to be getting so excited over some rippling water, but once you see it you'll know why I'm so impressed.

Graphics 9/10

Game-play

Simple and effective just about sums it up. The controls are tight and easy to learn, with one exception, so you don't have to fumble around looking for the right command during battle while your enemies make short work of you. The one exception is changing spells or weapons during battle. It's easy enough to cast a spell but if you want to change to a different spell you have to take your thumb off the joystick that moves your character around and use the D-pad to scroll up or down the spell list or left or right between your melee weapon and your bow if you have one equipped. Other than that though, everything else is nicely arranged so you don't have to think about what buttons you're pressing, you just need to think about what you're doing. Probably the best feature though is the camera. It's not like it's anything incredible but when so many games these days have camera problems it's worth noting when a game actually pulls off a successful camera control system. But enough about that, let's talk about character customization. At the beginning of the game you get to choose from three different character classes: a fighter, an archer, and a sorceress. From there, you get to customize them quite deeply. The game uses Version 3 D&D rules, meaning that every level you get a number of points equal to your level -1 to put towards both Active and Passive feats. Active feats are special skills or spells that consume mana in order to damage your enemy or protect you. Passive feats boost your stats, attack rate, carrying capacity, and many other things. In addition to this, you also get a single point every four levels to put towards six basic stats; Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, and Charisma. This really helps you make your character just the way you want them, so it's a lot of fun.

Game-play 10/10

Story

To be quite honest it's kind of bland. Basically you are a traveller who has come to the city of Baldurs Gate seeking fortune and adventure. Instead, you get robbed by a violent group of thieves and you begin a quest to get your stuff back. During your quest though, you discover an evil plot to take over Baldurs Gate and you end up joining a primitive FBI type of operation known as the Harpers to put an end to the evil doers. There's a few interesting twists (especially at the end) and some cool plot battles to compliment the story (an ice dragon for one), but overall it just seems kind of sub par. Still, it's not a huge problem because game-play is what this game is all about.

Story 5/10

Music/Sound

Definitely an area where the game shines. There isn't a whole lot of music, but what there is is definitely good stuff. The Elf song Tavern theme will haunt you for weeks and there's a lot more stuff that although it isn't phenomenal, fits the mood and environment of the game perfectly. The sound effects are varied and realistic sounding too, which adds a lot to the overall experience. The voice acting is just plain awesome though. All the NPCs have great medieval sounding accents and they're all quite different and interesting to listen to, even if you could just read the subtitles faster anyway. Overall, the audio of the game is very well done and enjoyable to listen to.

Rent/Buy?

Definitely a buy I would say, especially now that this is a greatest hits title so you can get it real cheap. Sure, you can beat it in under 10 hours, but with so many difficulty modes, different characters to choose from, and an un lockable character, you will probably find yourself re-playing this many times. Plus there's a whole other world to explore that I never even mentioned: Co-op play. Oh yeah.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/24/05


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