Baldur's Gate - Dark Alliance
The graphics are really quite good. There are numerous pools of water for you to run around in, to watch the ripples and wakes shimmer and merge. The lighting is lovely, the detail in the buildings and towns and dungeons look great on even large TVs. The sound is good too, and sitting in your living room with friends while the stereo sound surrounds you is tons of fun.
You can play single player or two-person cooperative, which makes couch-play even more fun. With a large bowl of popcorn and your favorite drinks, you can hack and slash your way through numerous hours or a weekend of play.
Now, the down side. Again, console port. Really, you're playing Gauntlet. You run around hacking up barrels and crates in your friend's cellar. Is this exactly the nicest thing to do? You hack at rats and enemies, look for things in barrels. Yes, you get into lever-pulling and puzzles. But in the end the game is pretty linear and the monsters don't regenerate. So whatever level you're at when you get to a certain point, you can't build yourself up more strongly.
This can get to be a real pain when you hit a strong boss. You can't go buy more gear, because there's no way to make more money. You can't get stronger or more skillful, because there's nobody else to kill "behind you" and you can't go "ahead" until you kill the boss. So you're doomed to keep trying to hack at him until you get past him ... somehow.
Another big complaint I have is that the gamemakers seem obsessed with the female form. The guys in the game are all pudgy and uninteresting. But the girls! The first woman you meet, the bartender, has jiggly, wiggly breasts and she shakes them around non-stop during her long, long discussions with you. Everyone I showed the game to was mesmerized by them.
And playing the female sorceress character, I found that no matter how hard I tried, I could NOT get her clothed well. Every outfit involved a cut-off top, skimpy leather boots and not much else. Ahem, she's going into a deep, dark dungeon to face dire enemies? And she's doing this in beach-wear??
Still, the game was campy fun, and definitely draws you in. A fun weekend-play game for real RPGers, and an easy way for those new to the genre to learn what it's about and to get a taste for the fun.
Buy Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance on Amazon.com
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