Awhile back in the winter of ‘01 Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance brought the third-person action RPG genre to the PlayStation 2 for the PC-less, Diablo-craving gamers. This year the series makes a second installment on the PlayStation 2 with Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II (DA2). With new competition around, including a new game from the developers of the first Dark Alliance, does DA2 have enough to deliver?
The plot of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, compared to the first one, is about as different as their names. Baldur’s Gate is once again threatened by unspeakable evil. The original playable characters are caught during the conflict so it is up to a new group of warriors and wizards to save the day. The story is then furthered as your character travels to Baldur’s Gate and meets friends and foes, receiving tasks and information.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II allows the player to select their character from 5 different races. Each race has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, barbarians have the strongest melee attacks but lack decent magic abilities while a necromancer is the opposite. Gameplay is as linear as always. Battles consist of the constant tapping of X for melee attacks with a couple magic spells here and there. It’s a good thing DA2 doesn’t rely on its action element cause it’s a boring affair. Like it’s predecessor, the game really is in the customization of character. Besides picking their race there are several other ways your character can become yours. This includes weapons and equipment, attributes, and magic spells.
Battles, already dulled by lack of cool moves, further lack a sense of significance because you can barely zoom in on fights. Both characters and environments have little detail. Melee attacks are lame and magic moves won’t exactly drop your jaw. Sound is also sub par. Sound effects are as lame as the dialogue is corny, and the dialogue is quite corny.
Co-op play returns, which makes the game more enjoyable and adds a little life to it, but co-op still only offers up to two players and is not enabled online which is a shame because it could really make for a better game. Hidden areas, characters, items, etc… also gives some repay value although not enough to keep non-fans of the series coming back. The game is reasonably long with over 80 levels although for a game of its type, and with little replay value, it could manage to be a bit longer.
In terms of fun Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II’s value is debatable. Some might prefer to inflict pain on themselves over playing hour after hour of linear gameplay. Others overlook it and enjoy the many RPG aspects. For those who side more with the second choice Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II offers 80+ levels and the returning co-op play. Unfortunately, the lack of an online mode as well as very little innovation means it doesn’t come near the impact the first game had. You’d be best seeing what else is available or waiting for something else to come along.
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