A lone road beckons, rutted
by caravan wheels and pitted by weather.
From the wrecked remains of
a caravan and an encounter with the Red Fang Goblins, to the Plane of Shadow, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2, a PlayStation2 release from
Black Isle Studios and Interplay is a wonderful return to the fantasy and lore
created in the first title.
The game can be played
either in single-player or two-player cooperative mode, and features a host of
improvements over the original title in terms of game features.
The story follows the story
of heroes gathered in Baldur’s Gate to face yet another lofty challenge. In the
original tale, adventurers battled through to the Onyx Tower, the power center
for Eldrith the Betrayer. But that was only the beginning. Those who vanquished
Eldrith have disappeared, but darker forces seem to be at work; vile enemies who
slaughter and mutilate their victims, and the overall script will take the brave
and would-be saviors through a labyrinth of levels.
The game is spread over four
acts, and has five new customizable characters. There is Dorn Redbear, the
barbarian; Vhaidra Uoswiir, the monk; Ysuran Auondril, an elven wizard; Allessia
Faithhammer, a cleric; and Borador Goldhand, a rogue. Each character has
separate and unique skills that can be leveled up.
The game also features a
creation system, which allows players to forge unique magical weapons and armor.
While the game has the array
of mob drops that increase in power as you progress through the game, do not
expect this foray to be a random, non-linear adventure. BGDA2 is very linear in
that you will enter a quest and while there are branches in the maze path,
ultimately there appears to be only one true way from the beginning to the end.
If you enter a forest, you cannot veer from the path, because the rest of the
wooded land is an impenetrable wall.
The mobs will throw melee,
missile and some magic at you, and by the time you get to Argesh, the
abomination boss, you had better be beyond level 10. Argesh has been created
from parts of other beings, has a lot of hit points, does a lot of damage per
attack, is surrounded by minions, and is a real challenge.
And that is, perhaps, the
hallmark of BGDA2 – challenge. The game is rife with it.
Whether it is battling the
various mobs, undertaking one of the numerous quests, or entering into a
workshop in hopes of forging that ultimate weapon or armor, this title will draw
players in and keep them glued to the game.
The crafting system requires
a masterwork item (such as a finely crafted piece of armor, or weapon) and a
rune stone. You can basically attach the rune stone or rune stones to the base
item (the masterwork weapon or armor) to increase its effectiveness. After
imbuing the weapon or armor, you can then add gems to it to give the item a
magic effect. You can also break down an item to recover whatever was used to
When it comes to the control
elements, this is a game that is easy to understand and jump into. The controls
are rather simple to use. The graphics are also wonderful, but are not a huge
improvement over the original title. The camera does get hung up on occasion and
is not fully rotatable in certain areas. For example, if you make it to Baldur’s
Gate, you will find that the camera is locked and you cannot see the entire town
structure. If there are doorways at the bottom of the screen area of the town,
the only way to search them is to disappear under the roof tiles and blindly
crawl along the wall.
The sound of this game is
very good, and carries the original title’s mood and style.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
2 is a huge game in terms of map area and challenge. There may not be much in
terms of replayability here, but sacrificing that for a game that certainly
entertains and is somewhat addictive is worth the adventure. The truly nice
thing about this title is that while you can pick a certain character style, the
way you invest your skill points can create a character that is totally
different from another similar character. You may have two elf wizards, with
their core quests, but by investing in different skills, those two versions of
Ysuran may be completely different in terms of attack abilities, and defensive
BGDA2 is engrossing and a
great deal of fun.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
2 is rated Teen.
The game is somewhat linear
in that there is one correct path through most of the dungeons. The camera gets
hung up a bit in places and you cannot see all aspects of the area you are in –
like in the town of Baldur’s Gate.
The game looks terrific. The
animation is very good and the environments are excellent. Effects like spells
are well done.
The vocal acting is well
done, and the musical score and ambient sounds are solid. The game does have
some humor in that the characters will, at times, refer to the game player
The game will progressively
challenge the player. While the initial challenge of the caravan can be
surmounted, there are much more difficult bosses ahead, and relatively quickly.
The game is a nice adjunct
to the original and carries the style through quite well.
This game will support up to
two players in cooperative play.
The game is somewhat linear,
but boasts a lot of eye candy and solid gameplay. This is a good title in solo
play, but much better in cooperative game play. Dark Alliance 2 a great way to
start off the year in terms of RPGs for the PS2.