You begin with a quick cut scene featuring are heroes from the previous Baldur’s Gate coming thru a portal and straight into a trap. Mordoc Salamner, the vampire king himself, thanks you for coming thru the portal; and with your coming you inadvertently let him know that Eldrith is dead and that he and his associates can start rebuilding the Onyx tower, and then he offers you the hospitality of his dungeon.
Loading?.. Dungeons&Dragons?Interplay…Vivendi Universal…Hasbro?Wizards of the Coast
If you have not played Baldur’s Gate I on PS2, the opening scene makes little or no sense. It’s kind of like reading the second book in a series before you read the first; but not to worry, throughout the game there will be hints and mentions of the previous adventure, and some of the characters from the first installment will also appear in the game.
After the opening scene you’re brought to the character select screen where you will chose your adventurer/adventuress. Your choices are Allessia Faithhammer a cleric of Helm good at melee combat and defense, Ysuran Auondril, a moon elf necromancer whose strength is death magic – he is weak in all other fields but he can build up his stats to become extremely powerful, Dorn Redbear, barbarian of the West Heartlands – he excels in melee combat and has many powerful combat attacks, Vhaidra Uoswiir, a dark elf monk – who’s strength are speed, agility, and hand to hand combat, and, lastly, Borador “Goldhand”, a rogue dwarf. Borador is great with bows and crossbows, decent with melee combat, and also can use explosives well. He also has extensive treasure hunting skills which help to earn extra money (note: money is vastly needed later on in the game). Choose a character you will be most comfortable with, as you will be using this character for the game. You can switch your character in the game but you will have to build up your new character’s stats all over again and once you get to far into the game you won’t have enough power or money to succeed.
Now the game begins, and you’ll come across a woman on the road who asks for your assistance and, of course, you agree and it’s on to glory. Stage One is simplistic at best but gives you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the control set up which at first seems a daunting task, but much time was spent tooling the character controls so they are actually set up quite nicely. Your R1 button blocks and also doubles as your aiming sight when you have a crossbow or throwing item equipped. The R2 button casts healing spells. L1 brings up your magic or abilities submenu, which you can use to place 4 of your favorite spells/abilities on hot keys. Also, the spell/ability that you leave open is put up on your circle key for direct use. L2 is your magic replenish spell. The X button attack, the square button opens doors, chests, activates switches, and talks to people, and finally the triangle button lets you jump. You can spin your camera 360 degrees and in single player mode you can zoom in a little bit to get some close up action on the fighting.
Once you get thru the first trials of the game, and start getting into new settings; things will start to move along more rapidly. You’ll be collecting all sorts of weapons, amulets, potions, rings, and jewels. Monsters and foes of varying strengths, and abilities will start attacking simultaneously. Some will rush in for the attack, and others will hang back and strike at you from afar using spells, arrows, throwing knives. Etc… For each monster/enemy that you defeat you will be given experience points. These experience points will vary depending on the type of foe that you have defeated. You will also be given experience points when completing quests and side missions.
When you collect enough experience points you will advance your character to there next level of experience. A diamond shaped marker appears under your characters game screen icon when this happens. To view your characters current abilities or increase them when you have enough experience points simply hit the select button; this will bring up the attributes list. Here you can chose to spend the experience points you have earned in a variety of ways. There are 10 to 15 different attributes depending on your character type, These range from better archery skills to more magic power, better hit points faster regeneration of health or magic points and so on and so forth.
Hint- Use these level points to bring up your characters stronger traits and also there weaker traits first. And then start to give them added abilities when the game starts to get tougher. So for instance don’t make your Barbarian extremely strong in magic or archery. In the beginning focus on making him even stronger and more proficient with combat weapons and abilities.
Over 100,000 man-hours went into the creation of Dark Alliance and the dungeon layouts are as good as playing a home game of Dungeons & Dragons. There are hidden byways, wrap around paths, traps, locked doors, secret caves, alternate planes of existence where you’ll not only have to fight monsters of their element but have to contend with the elements themselves, and, of course, hordes of monsters, animals, bugs and plenty of Boss battles.
There are eight different weapon and armor grades: Shoddy being the worst to Flawless being the best. You can chose from hand axes, to halberds, to daggers, swords, spears, clubs, staffs, chain mail, half plate mail, leather, full plate mail etc? You can also upgrade your weapons, armor, and jewelry in a workshop by having rune stones and jewels laid into the weapons; creating some terrific and powerful weapons, amulets, rings and armor. Some of these will be type-specific for certain levels and monsters you will face; others will give you added Hit Points, Armor Class, Dexterity and so on.
The only minor flaws I have found with Baldur’s Gate is that the musical score isn’t always spot on, the graphics are a little dated (which I personally enjoyed) and it isn’t the most plot driven game in the Action/RPG Genre. The only major flaw is at the very outset of the game, you are given the choice to start and play the game in one of three modes Easy, Normal, And Hard. Now this is the most basic thing on almost any game but it plays a MAJOR roll in the overall experience of this game. If you are new to the action/RPG genre simply ignore the easy setting and start the game in normal (you can thank me later) and to the experienced player definitely play this game in Hard Mode. As playing this game in Normal will be more like walking thru the park or watching a movie than a test of your skill. The Easy feature on this game is for rental purposes only!
All in all, this is a more than well-rounded game; it gives and keeps on giving, and, in my own personal opinion, the best part of the game is after the ending – yes I said after the ending. Beating the game on Easy Normal or Hard will open up Extreme Level (and a hidden character), and in this level you can use your existing character from you’re save game to start the game anew. You start with all your old stats from the last game. Now, unfortunately, you lose all your items, weapons, and armor; but you are much more powerful and the enemies are a lot tougher. It makes the replay value go way up because now you can sit back and just enjoy the game. You know what’s in store for you, but this is a pure hack-and-slash, magic-casting good time; and if you have two characters built up to the extreme, you and a friend can go and raise some major havoc over and over again. Live by the sword and die by the spell, have fun, and game on fellow gamers.