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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Interplay

 

Developer

Black Isle

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Great Graphics
- Good use of AD&D license
- Non-stop action

 

 

- Too Linear
- Not enough character options
- No real improvement over last year’s PS2 edition

 

 

Review: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (Playstation 2)

Review: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (Gamecube)

Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction  (PC)

Review: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (XB)

 

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Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

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Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (BG:DA) is a far cry from the Baldur’s Gate games on the PC. Where those games offer epic quests and deep, involving stories, BG:DA is far smaller and more intimate. Luckily, it is also far more action packed. Instead of being a true RPG, BG:DA is a real-time action game in the mode of Diablo, but without the mouse clicks, and is a direct offspring of the classic, ASCII-based game Rogue. As a RPG, BG:DA is too short and too light, but for a Rouge-like game, it is a fairly deep and rewarding experience.

Like its PS2 counterpart, the first thing most players will notice about BG:DA are the smooth graphics. As a PS2 game BG:DA was remarkable—an anti-aliased wonder amidst a sea of jaggie-filled games. The Xbox doesn’t suffer from the same problems, but BG:DA still looks wonderful. I would have liked to have seen this version do a little more than maintain the status quo, however. As good as the graphics are, they could have been improved with better and more regular bump-mapping. The occasional frame rate stutters from the PS2 version are still here

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also. Regardless, BG:DA is still gorgeous and, even on the Xbox, has little competition in its own category (I’d say Hunter is slightly better looking than BG:DA, but that’s it).

Also mimicking the PS2 version, the sound remains excellent here. The clash of blades, thrum of bow-strings and pain cries of creatures and man alike are well done and involving. I always felt the sound in the game was underrated. Hopefully it

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will garner more notice this time around.

One of the places that this game lags far behind the Baldur’s Gate RPG’s is in character selection. Here, players can only choose between three character classes. The game is, however, a distinctly different experience when playing with each of the characters. Regardless of which character is chosen, the plot starts our hero out in the town of Baldur’s Gate having just been robbed by members of a Thieves Guild. From there, though there are some minor side quests, the game is completely linear. It is required that each mission be completed before the next can be taken. Even the side-quests don’t help the payer feel less confined as most of them can be completed without even trying. Killing everything in an area and busting up all the crates and barrels will pretty much solve every quest. What puzzles exist are simple and obvious.

In case you couldn’t tell from the paragraph above, BG:DA’s focus is firmly on action. The game throws hundreds of creature at you at a rapid pace. Gameplay basically consists of slaughtering wave after wave of critters. It is here that the game’s great graphics really pay off. Monsters are well-modeled and animated. Even early XP builders like rats and kobolds are given hundreds of polygons and a large number of frames of animation.

 

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The action also benefits greatly from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons license. These are not generic monsters that our heroes encounter, but detailed monstrosities with rich histories. An early encounter with a huge Beholder is, for me at least, worth the price of admission. The first time I played the game, I played that boss encounter ten times in one night. Very good stuff. Dozens of other D&D staples make an appearance and each one is like meeting a dear old friend.

Though the main quest is short, BG:DA does provide some replay value in the form of the Gauntlet and Extreme modes than open up after you have beaten the game. These amount to little more than timed dungeon crawls, but they are challenging and may keep the game from going onto the shelf permanently after it has been beaten using all three character classes.

In the end, BG:DA is a great game. It is a bit too short and a lot too linear, but the combination of great graphics, sound, and theme make for a fun experience. Still, if you have already played the game on the PS2, there is no reason to buy it for the Xbox. This is the same game through and through.

- Tolen Dante
(January 11, 2003)

 

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