Interplay's Black Isle and Snowblind Studios bring their excellent D&D game to the Xbox.
We got hold of a build of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance for the Xbox and have been putting it through its paces. Originally released for the PlayStation 2 last year, the game offered a marked change of pace for the Baldur's Gate series. While the PC Baldur's Gate games were traditional RPGs, Dark Alliance offered a faster-paced dungeon crawl that was better suited to a console. The game's jaw-dropping graphics, which still rank as some of the best ever seen on the PS2, combined with its accessible gameplay, cooperative two-player mode, and character customization features, made it one of the standout titles of 2001. Following the critical and commercial success of the title, developers Snowblind Studios and Black Isle Studios, the RPG division of publisher Interplay, have opted to bring the game to the Xbox. Although our beta build is early and only contains the first three chapters of the game, it looks as though Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is coming together quite well on the Xbox.
For those who missed out on the PlayStation 2 version, the game makes use of the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting and the 3rd Edition D&D rules set. If that sounds like some foreign language, fear not--the game's D&D ties aren't essential to getting into the story, they just add texture. The game's basic plot is as accessible as they get. You assume the role of a hapless adventurer who has headed to the bright lights of Baldur's Gate, a port city that's experiencing a rather foul run of luck. It seems that the town is plagued by some nasty evil. The townspeople stay indoors for fear of ending up dead, like many of the city's night watchmen. To make matters worse, there are rumors of a civil war in the thieves' guild going on in the sewers. You experience your own taste of the dark cloud hanging over the city when you're mugged as soon as you hit town. Despite the small setback, you set out to find your fortune in the inhospitable town, a journey that results in a meaty and death-intensive quest that's a blast to play.
If you've played the PS2 version, you'll be very familiar with how Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance plays out. If you haven't, it shouldn't be too hard to get into the game, thanks to its accessible structure. The game is laid out in a linear fashion and shouldn't overwhelm anyone. You'll start out by selecting from one of three characters: a human archer named Vahn, a dwarven fighter called Kromlech, or an elven sorceress named Adrianna. Once you've settled on your virtual self, you'll start the game in a tavern, post-mugging. The early segments of the game give you a good idea of what to expect. You'll interact with characters and be given a quest to fulfill. Once you've completed your task, you'll head back to the character who sent you on your quest and receive your reward and experience. Lather, rinse, and repeat until you complete the game. It's a fine setup, with boss characters who will test your adventuring skills peppered throughout the game.
- Release Date: Sep 26, 2002 (JP)
- Release Date: Mar 21, 2003 (EU)
- Release Date: Apr 25, 2003 (EU)
- Release Date: Feb 10, 2004 (US)