Baulur's Gate: Dark Alliance

Overview

One of the PS2’s top game of 2001 had to be Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Although being overshadowed by the year’s more popular releases like Grand Theft Auto 3, in my eyes it was one of the PS2’s top games of the year, and easily a candidate for 2001 most overlooked game. With that being said, how would the game fare on the Xbox? Well it really seems like the same game with very minor improvements.

Gameplay

Baldur’s Gate is really not your full-on console RPG like the Final Fantasy series. In fact it has a lot of elements of a hack and slash action game. If you have played games such as the Diablo series and the recent Dungeon Siege, the viewpoint of the game is very similar. The camera hovers high over the character through out the game.

Right from the very beginning of the game you will be blessed with several cut scenes which will keep you up to date with what is going on with Baldur’s Gate. As you make it farther throughout the game, the story will start to come together and therefore you will find yourself just glued to the TV.

Baldur’s Gate is a game that you will spend most of your time running around a lot of dark areas like caves, tunnels and sewers. During this time there will be a lot of hack and slashing to be done throughout the game. The great part about the fighting in the game is that is done so fluidly. You could be in crowded taverns and slashing several enemies at once with a breeze. Every time you defeat an enemy you will gain experience that will help you level and become noticeably a much stronger character.

Throughout the course of action you will be able to have one melee weapon and one range weapon. The melee weapon is for the most part the weapon of choice, because I found the range weapon to be very difficult to use. As you get into the game several skills like dodging and luring your enemies will become a must in the later parts of the game.

The controls of Baldur’s Gate are really very easy and will only take you a very little amount of time to get the hang of. The A button is used for attacking; the B button for magic, and the Y button is used for jumping. So once you got those basic controls down you are ready to go.

For the most part the gameplay really all works greatly together. The hack and slash really is addicting. As you level your character the game will also become a lot more enjoyable and when you really get into the heart of the game there will be some frustration although the frustration will be backed up with a lot of feeling of accomplishments.

One of the most prevalent aspects in the aural-department in the game has to be the tremendous voice acting. Every character in which you talk to throughout the game has their own unique voices and usually has quite a bit to say. The voice acting is really done superbly. On the other side of the sound the in-game music is really just adequate. The music just plays as a little background noise so for the most part it is really low key.

Graphics

One of the best parts of the PS2 version of Baldur’s Gate was definitely the graphics portion of the game. And that’s also the source of my disappointment, as this Xbox port doesn’t seem to be any different from the PS2 version.

The game’s far away viewpoint was complemented by the incredible amount of detail that went into the surrounding environment. The Xbox version sports an excellent use of high-resolution textures, with accurate light sourcing and special effects. Just take a look at those water effects in the first dungeon, and you’ll see what I mean.

All is good, but I just wished that they could be further improved. Seeing what the Xbox’s powerful graphical engine can do, I’m surprised that developers Black Isle Studios didn’t optimize the graphics, or at least beef up something. But with that said, there’s nothing wrong with the graphics, as it remains untouched in this port.

Fun Factor

For the most part there is really not much to complain about. The game can become frustrating at times but persistence will be rewarded. The hack and slashing of the game can be done very easily. This game is not short by any token so the fun will keep going for quite some time.

Overall

The only disappointing portion of the game was that it really was just a direct port from the PS2 version. With that said there was really nothing wrong with the PS2 version so there was really no real need to fix it although it would have been nice. For the most part this is just one excellent game with everything going for it. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this one for either PC or PS2, I would highly recommend this one.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.