Thieves and brigands have driven you and your family from your farmland home. Desperately seeking safety within the walls of Baldur's Gate, your family is ambushed and your sister has been abducted... you... are all that stands in the way of one of the greatest threats ever to strike Baldur's Gate and the Sword Coast. From the streets of Baldur's Gate, to the windtorn peaks of the Sunset Mountains, your quest to rescue your sister escalates into staving off a war that will drown the Sword Coast in blood. A stunning new adventure for your Nintendo Game Boy Advance system, this tale of intrigue and fierce alliances will challenge your skills, as you fight your way to the truth and the bittersweet realization of vengeance.
--From the GBA Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance instruction manual.
"Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance" is the follow up to the smash PC hit "Baldur's Gate", and the first "Baldur's Gate" title available on consoles. A true role-playing hack and slash game set in the Forgotten Realms universe, Baldur's gate was ported from consoles to great acclaim. Many times ported games suffer a tragic fate, never realizing the potential of the original, and falling short of gamer's expectations. The "Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance's" port to the Gameboy Advance limits playable character selection (as compared with the other console versions), eliminates co-op mode and jumping, and splits the town of Baldur's gate into two sections, but it also features more interactive towns, characters, and various side-quests.
"Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance" features somewhat linear gameplay, although there are side quests that can be completed, they must be completed before the player concludes the act that the side quest is found in. Player's hack through dungeons, to stack experience and gain levels. Although the player only has the option of choosing one of three characters at the start of the game, the character development is very impressive and deep, allowing the player to upgrade abilities to suit their style of play. The development of the classes (especially later in the game) lead to very different styles of play, upping the replayability factor.
The graphics featured in "Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance" are rich in detail, and sharp. The enemies have very smooth animation, and there are a ton of them. Enemy AI makes encounter more challenging, enemies attack at their optimal range, and when confronted in groups, enemies will attempt to surround the player. Combat collision recognition is accurate, a huge deal for hack and slash games. Projectiles are even assisted with a laser site aim that highlights the enemy that is being targeted. Bosses are especially impressive and can take up half of the screen.
Hacking through levels can get a bit repetitive, but this is a dungeon slashing RPG, grinding for levels is a huge part of the fun. As is exploring dungeons looking for weapons and armor. The player's character moves at a fast quip, and the gameplay never felt labored. The NPC interaction could have more depth, but considering the limitations of the Gameboy Advance hardware, I appreciate the fact that there were so many NPCs, most with something to say.
"Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance" is a dungeon crawling slasher that does a fantastic job of incorporating meaningful RPG elements into the game. The game is simplified compared to many party based dungeon crawlers, but it works well within that simplicity, providing significant and worthwhile character development. I would have enjoyed a longer play, but the distinct character play styles make it worth another play through as a different character. "Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance" is a very easy game to get into, but somewhat difficult to pull away from.
The player is given the option of three different characters at the start screen, fighter, archer, and wizard. Choose carefully according to the playing style that you enjoy. After completing the game the character will be given a fourth option, an Elven fighter who combines all the best traits of the other three characters.
At the inn in the very beginning are three pedestals that, when interacted with, explain the inventory system to the player. There are three weapon types displayed in the three icons at the bottom left corner of the screen. The inventory screen has seven tabs, each corresponding to an equipment type. After a certain amount of levels have been gained, characters will have ability to upgrade ability and spells.
Health and magic points are displayed in the upper left hand corner of the screen
Player's can save their game whenever they want.
|A Button||Attack / Use healing potion (press A +L)|
|B Button||Perform action / Use rejuvenation potion (press B + L)|
|R Button||Switch weapon type|
|L Button||Protect (Shield or Spell)|
|Start Button||Inventory menu|