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Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance

Developer: Snowblind Studios | Publisher: Interplay
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/18/02 | Genre: Action/RPG

One game that really ate a lot of my quarters when I was younger was the game entitled Gauntlet. It was a relatively simple game -- all you had to do was move your character around, hit the Attack and Spell buttons, and try not to get killed. But something about the game made it so much fun. Don't ask me why -- the graphics were not good and the game was next to impossible -- yet I still threw in my quarters like there was no tomorrow. And with many attempts to make Gauntlet a home video game it just wasn't the same. It just didn't have the fun that it did back then.

What does this have to do with this week's review you ask? The reason I bring it up is because when I played this week's game, not only did I experience those past feelings of sheer joy as I did when I first played Gauntlet, but I was overwhelmed by the quality of this game. Still confused about why I bring up Gauntlet?

Thanks to the good folks at Interplay I have rekindled those feelings of playing a Gauntlet-style game! First, let me start by explaining why this is a Gauntlet-style game. You will first notice by the screenshots that you look down on the action. This continues until you speak with people -- then you will look face-to-face with the friend (or enemy) you are conversing with.

Also, in this game you hack and slash your way throughout the massive levels while using your magic as well. You will also have to collect keys and items to complete your various missions. But, this is where the similarities stop! This game is Gauntlet on steroids because this game features so much more then just button-mashing. This is a game where you must use your mind and your reflexes in order to succeed.
Baldurs Gate is a highly successful PC-platform title and has been made a PS2 title for us all to enjoy. But the fans of the original Baldurs Gate might not recognize the PS2 subtitle, Dark Alliance, because up until this point, Baldurs Gate had been an RPG (Role-Playing Game.) But fear not, fans of Baldurs Gate, because Dark Alliance still has a great deal of RPG elements! You must fight, gain experience points, and pick up more money (used to buy better weapons, armor, and magical items) and use your experience points to increase your library of available spells. You must use all of this in order to complete your missions.

Before you start your mission you however, you must select your character (which affects the storyline with each choice�this will also give you many gaming hours of fun!) After your choice, your story unfolds. From that point on, hold on to your seat because you are in for an experience! The game features over 40 levels and you will battle over 35 different foes. Your missions will include such things as destroying all of the enemies, capturing lost items, freeing your friends, and so much more.

Graphically this is truly one of the best-looking games on the PS2. Without question, the different scenery in the game is breathtaking! But my personal favorite is the effect where your character walks through water. It looks so real because the water flows differently with each step. Walk through and the water moves slowly, run through and you can see the ripple effect increase; this is the one of the coolest things I ever seen in a video game. So cool, in fact, you may want to buy the game just to see it! Another cool thing, graphically speaking, is the sight of the dead bad guys (or monsters or rats or whatever you have just killed), still laid out wherever you had slain them. No matter when you come back to the spot they are still there, exactly light you left them -- it's pretty sweet (and gross!)

Another huge positive about this game is the sound. The voice-acting is terrific and really brings the game to life. In fact, all the audio elements in the game are great! From the game-playing music to the sound of the weapons being dropped (after killing the monster who's holding them, of course), the sound in the game is top-notch! This is a great part of the game and really increases the fun in playing it! If there were a negative in this game then it would have to be the difficulty. The game at times is very hard, but that IS what cheat codes are for right? (Stay right here -- I will have some codes to make life a little easier for you!)

Overall this is a great game, which has something for everyone. If you like action, you are covered. If you like adventure, you are covered. And if you like RPGs you are covered there as well! The game is rated T for Teen because of blood, violence, and the use of alcohol so no youngins for this one. But if you are old enough, you should definitely check this one out!

Bonus Codes for Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance for the Playstation 2:

Cheat mode:

Hold R2 + L1 + Left + Triangle then press Start during game play. A cheat menu with "Invincibility", "Level Warp" options will be unlocked.

Super character:

Hold R2 + L1 + Left + Triangle then press R3 during game play. Your character will speak to confirm correct code entry. Your character will now be at level 20 and have access to all feats. Your character will also have level 1 feats on all class-dependent feats and 75,000 more gold pieces. Note: Your character will not advance to a higher level or gain additional feats.

Play as Drizzt:

Hold L1 + R1 then press X + Triangle at the main menu. Alternately, select "New Game" at the main menu, select one of the three default characters, then hold R1 + R2 + L1 + L2 until the game completes loading. Another method is to successfully complete the game under the extreme difficulty setting.

Control loading screen:

Move the Right Analog-stick and the flames surrounding "Loading" will also move.

The Gauntlet level:

Successfully complete the game under any difficulty setting.

Extreme mode:

Successfully complete The Gauntlet level to unlock the extreme difficulty setting.

Play as Drizzt:

Successfully complete the game under the extreme difficulty setting. Alternately, choose to play The Gauntlet. You will start as Drizzt. Enable the "Invincibility" cheat and complete The Gauntlet within 15 minutes. .At the end where you face the Onyx Goldem, use the "Level warp" cheat to go to the Tavern. You can now play the game as Drizzt. Note: You cannot equip any other sword than the ones he has during The Gauntlet. Import a new character into the game and give him the Onyx Sword, since Drizzt cannot use it.

Start with Onyx Sword:

After you have completed the game once and have saved the game with the Onyx Sword in your possession (for example, with the human), start a new game with a new character (for example, the dwarf) and save. Import the human, drop the Onyx Sword and any other good items, then import the dwarf and pick them up. Note you can do this with any character and any weapon.

Duplicate items:

Save the game, then drop the items to be duplicated from the inventory of your current character. Press Start and choose to change your character. Import your character from the previously saved game. The game will bring in your character with all items in inventory at the time of your save, and allow you to collect the duplicates that are on the ground.

Save the game and use a Recall Potion to return to the Elfsong Tavern. Drop all your expensive items, then import your saved player. Pick your items up and sell them. You can do this as many times as needed, have to save each time before you import again or you will lose the gold you have made.

Resurrection in Multi-Player mode:

If a player dies during Multi-Player mode, have the surviving player go the previous save point. Walk in the light surrounding the save point and they will be brought back. The character will be resurrected with all items, but at half hit points.

Get to Level 40 quickly:

Use the following trick to get a new character to level 40. You first must have a character saved under the extreme difficulty setting. Then, start a new game under the easy difficulty setting with a new character, (Dwarf, Human or Elf). As soon as the new game starts, save the character data at the tavern immediately. Then, exit the game and return to the main menu. Load up the character that is in extreme mode. Then, import the new character you just created over the your old extreme mode character. Enable the "Cheat mode" code and turn invincibility on and level warp to the Hall of Remembrance. Take the character downstairs to the Black Forge and kill the Onyx Golem (the monster with the Onyx Sword). Your character will level up to level 40. Note: This has only been tested in One-Player mode.

By Chris "Hoss" Neupert - 04/24/02
ESRB Details: Blood, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Screenshots for Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance

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