STAFF REVIEW of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (Xbox)

Saturday, February 15, 2003.
by Tony Ingrassia

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance Box art Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance is a RPG adventure that delivers both on gameplay and storyline. Become one of 3 versitile charecters each equiped with a variety of weapons, magic, and and charecter exclusive forte. Work your way through incredible levels featureing hidden treasures, enchanted weapons and surprising enemies. All the usuall RPG charecteristics are here, build up your charecter, weapons, magic, attitude, and on , and on. If Morrowind is a little too deep for you and you need a well balanced, exciting adventure with a lot to offer, give Baldurs Gate:Dark Alliance a fair shake, you will be pleasantlly surprised. BG feels like Buffy to me, very underated.

The beauty, in my opinion, to Baldurs Gate is that anyone can pick it up and understand what to do. The fighting system, inventory system, and magic usage are well designed and easily understood. The story...Baldurs Gate is a city recently plagued by a growing evil.Town memebers have been turning up dead, and their are rumors of a Thieves' guild civil war beneath the city. You assume one of three Newcomers to Baldurs Gate who is thrown in the role of the Hero. Vahn, the Arcane Archer, Kromlech, the Dwarven Fighter, and my personal fave, Adrianna, the Elven Sorceress. Each charecter has his oe her own stregths and weeekness. Along your adventure you will find gold to upgrade your weapons, armour, and magic. The items change in the in the shops and you may occasionally find the enchanted sword of your dreams. Weapons have weight, value, damage points, and sometimes special attributes. Your cahrecters have specific atributes, weapons they can't use and can only carry so many object based on weight. Adrianna obviouslly can't carry as much as the brawny Vaughn. Your quests go from rat infested seweres to Ogre infested mountain sides. As you vanquesh your enemies your "Experience" builds, as that happens your charecter levels up and is awarded points, which can be applied to your charecters abilities. Strength, Intelegence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma all factor into your charecters abilities. One of the best options in this game is the ability to transfer your cahrecter from one game to another, so basically if you have built your charecter stats and want to use that charecter when playing the coop mode, yes cooperative play, you can inport that charecter without having to start from scratch. Save points are available along your adventure, your success will be measured by your ability to balance fighting, magic, and some puzzle solving. Recall potions are available to transport you back to the tavern where you begain your quest and where you can visit the shopkeaper to sell and or buy new weapons, armor, or potions when your carrying a bit too much or need some healing potions for your next big battle, and when done return you to the point in the game were you left. BG has more too offer than i can ever write, but this game has payed alot of attention to detail, unique levels and enemies, and the ability to offer a long exciting experience. Please note that this is the only version of this game i have ever played and it has plenty of merit on it's own. The developers obviouslly spent alot of time on the "GAME" itself. Job well done.

BG is played in a 3rd person perspective, which gives the graphics a little leway. That being said the look of BG is right on the money, dark and dank in the sewers, cobwebs where needed, along with some nice textures to give it a polished look. The charecter models move fluidly, no frame rate issues or clipping. The camera angles work real well, although in a few minimal instaces were awkward. Magic effects are visually stunning and as we have come to expect with the box, the water looks great. The developers delivered a sound visual product.

BG really has nothing stellar in the sound dept. It offers Dolby Surround, the soundtrack is pleasant and not overbering, the voice acting is above average, and the sound effects do the job. Again, you can tell the efforts went into the gameplay, but the sounds work well for this title.

My only suggestion would be to offer more charecters and more than 2 player coop. Everything else is solid.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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