Review by DMaul

"Very nice Action-RPG game with awesome attention to detail"

I adored the PC version of the first Baldur's Gate game so when I heard about this game made for PS2, I had to try it out. A friend of mine suggested it to me and I wasn't disappointed with the purchase.

Graphics : 10/10
Simply stunning. The attention to detail in this game is marvelous. From the way barrels and urns shatter differently when you hit them, to the way the zombies you hack at fall apart, it's totally immersive and engrossing. The lighting effects are spectacular and the camera perspective (which is similar to the traditional isometric BG view) is very well done. The characters you interact with are extremely well designed and the way they move and gesture when they speak is good.

Sound : 9/10
The music is well done, if a bit non present at times. Nothing spectacular. I expected more rousing battle tunes when you were fighting monsters and more ambiance music. The sound effects are nice, especially when you hack away at zombies or skeletons with a mace or morning star.

Story : 8/10
Compared to the story of the PC version of Baldur's Gate, the story in this one is a bit weak but it's still fairly engrossing. There were a bit too many clichés in the story for my tastes, like the traditional ''enter town and get mugged'' introduction. It's been overused too much, in my opinion. There are three character classes you can choose from : a Human Archer, a Dwarven Figher and an Elven Sorceress. And I still haven't figured out why they called the game 'Dark Alliance' in the first place. What dark alliance? Did I miss something?

Gameplay : 10/10
Controls can't get much better than this. I was dreading the control aspect of this game because I had been so used to using a mouse to play those types of RPG games. I was stunned with how easy and smoothly the controls are. One really nice feature that I liked is that when items are dropped and you move next to them, they're highlighted. Nice touch. The analog control stick makes navigation through the dungeons and caves very easy. No complaints here.

Replayability : 9/10
Well, as far as I've been able to gather so far, the game has 4 difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Hard and Extreme). Extreme can only be unlocked once you complete the Gauntlet mode (which I won't spoil for you). I've played on Easy and Normal so far. Replaying the game with the other classes is nice but the short time it takes to complete this game disappointed me a lot. Only 3 chapters and I finished the game in about 8 hours, playing VERY slowly.

Rent/Buy :
Dungeons and Dragons fans should have this game in their library. However, this game could easily be finished in one or two rentals. I don't regret buying the game.

Overall : 9/10
Awesome game, even though it doesn't have the flexibility and engrossing story that the PC games had but that's to be expected. The style is much more action oriented in this game. There's less interacting with characters and more bashing monsters. Those expecting to get a very complex RPG with various plot twists and intrigues will be disappointed. Those expecting a fun, easy to play and immersive game won't be disappointed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/05/02, Updated 01/05/02

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