Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is an action role-playing game developed by Snowblind Studios for the PlayStation 2; later released for the Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. It was re-released on the Playstation 2 as a Greatest Hits title. It's gameplay is based on the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
Development History Edit
The game was officialy revealed to be in development by Snowblind Studios in the year 2000. Fans of the game were highly excited that the Baldur's Gate game series was coming to the Playstation 2. However, even though Interplay revealed that the game was unrelated to the previous Baldur's Gate games it still maintained a very high fanbase. The game was officialy released in the year 2001 to critical acclaim.
Despite the second game being announced shortly after the high success of the first game, Interplay revealed that it had hired Magic Pockets to handle ports of the game. The first port was released on to the Xbox in 2002 to mixed reviews, same with the second port on the Gamecube in 2003. The third port of the game was much different than the console games as it was released on the Nintendo Gameboy, this port of the game was critically well received but featured many noticeable differences from the console versions of the game.
The game begins with the player character's arrival in the city of Baldur's Gate whereupon he is attacked, robbed, and left for dead. He is brought to the Elfsong Tavern by guards to recover. There, the first hints about a great evil hiding in Baldur's Gate are revealed.
The player begins by clearing the tavern's cellar of rats and vermin, and later discovers a thieves' den in the sewers where it is learned that one of the guests at the inn has been captured by thieves. Delving further into the sewers, the player finds an entrance to the crypt of the local temple where the dead are being reanimated by a magic orb, which must be destroyed. The destruction of the orb leads to meeting Jherek, leader of the Harpers, who tells the player that the Thieves' Guild is only one "part of a greater whole", and the guild must be destroyed. The player then infiltrates the guild's secret lair, defeats Kharne (associate of the Zhentarim and the second-in-command of the thieves who had ambushed the player at the start of the game) and meets Xantam, a beholder who reveals that he is controlling the thieves' guild on behalf of some greater power. After defeating Xantam, the player finds a portal which, after joining the Harpers, is instructed by Jherek to use it and find the source of the guild. However, before using it the player meets Keaira, a caravan guard, who instructs the player to bring her a box of spices from the Thieves Guild. After the player does this the player is sent through the Portal.
The player is sent to the Sunset Mountains, where he faces the treacherous Wind's Walk, with yetis, ogres and gnolls. At the end of this mountain path, lies a Dwarven village. The dwarves have been driven from their mine by drow, and have sent a party to light a signal fire to request reinforcements, but that party has vanished. Torregir, a dwarf, charges the player to scale Burning Eye Mountain to discover the fate of the signalling party, and to light the signal. The player finds that the dwarven signaling party was ambushed and scattered by Ciraxis, a powerful white dragon. The player is able to light the signaling fire and retrieve the key to the mine, however he alerts Ciraxis of his prescensce while doing it. The player enters the mine and engages the Drow forces therein. On the lowest level of the mine, he combats the valsharess, the drow queen, who again refers to herself as a servant of another power. In the drow holding cells the player discovers a dwarf that is also a Harper. This dwarf leads the player to a cave in a nearby forest where he defeats Ciraxis, who had ambushed the dwarven signaling party. Ciraxis guards another portal which transports the player to the Marshes of Chelimber.
The hero emerges in a ruined sunken cathedral filled with undead, but is able to fight to the surface where he meets Sleyvas, a humanoid lizard who explains that the local lizard tribes are being controlled by an Onyx Tower that dominates the landscape. The tower has no visible entrance, but can be accessed via the water stair; a conduit to the elemental plane of water. The path to the water stair is blocked by the local lizard tribes, and only the defeat of their chieftain will cause the tribes to scatter. The player travels through the swamps and the remains of an ancient human castle to defeat the chieftan. He then fights through a temple filled with minotaurs, and at the end of the temple, lies the water stair. The player then travels to the Onyx Tower.
At the penultimate level of the tower, the player meets a number of ghosts of fallen soldiers who explain that their general, Eldrith, once served Baldur's Gate, and fought a crusade against dark forces who intended its destruction. Upon her defeat, she was betrayed by the elders of Baldur's Gate, who were angered by her defying their orders not to march. Furious, she rallied her unwilling soldiers to attack Baldur's Gate, but was fought back far to the Marshes of Chelimber and was killed. Her rage brought her back to life, caused the tower to come into being, and gave her the power to open portals between distant locations. Seeking revenge, she has orchestrated the attacks against Baldur's Gate and its allies, and created a dark alliance between the thieves' guild, mountain creatures, drow, and lizardmen.
The player learns that defeating Eldrith will destroy the tower and the portals, and will free the ghosts to pass to the afterlife, but will trap the player. The player proceeds to the roof to join combat with Eldrith. He finds Eldrith alone on the roof of the tower with another portal. She again reiterates her plans for the destruction of Baldur's Gate, and attacks the player. Eventually, the player defeats Eldrith, who repents for her rage. With the tower crumbling around him, the player has no choice but to enter the remaining portal.
In the final cutscene, Sleyvas' true motives are revealed: he has manipulated the player to defeat Eldrith so that he and his comrades can gain control of the tower. He also expects the hero to have died in the tower. The player emerges in an unknown forest surrounded by nightshades and nightwalkers, and the game concludes on this cliffhanger, which is picked up in the sequel.
The gameplay is based of a limited set of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule-set, D&D rules were greatly expanded in the second game, it uses as many features as it can due to the differences in its gameplay than other D&D games as it is presented in Real-Time Gameplay. The battle system in the game is simplistic, but allows for customization. Character statistics at the game's beginning are preset, and the player may only customize his or her character's statistics through gaining experience points. Experience points are gained by winning battles, and at specific levels the character gains new ability points to spend on enhancements specific to the character class. The ability choices affect the fighting style of the character. The human archer, for example, can assign experience points to enchanting arrows rather than to strength, which results in a more powerful ranged attack. However, it is possible to make the human archer a melee fighter as well, it all depends on what the player decides to use his experience points on, but a human archer can only enchant his range abilities and not his strength abilities. While a human archer and elven sorceress can improve upon strength, they can not enchant their strenght like the Dwarven Fighter can.
Gameplay is linear, and any current quest must be completed successfully before the story proceeds. There are also relatively few non-player characters (NPCs), of which only those who are part of a quest or side-quest may be interacted with. There are not that many sidequests available in the game, however doing sidequests for characters like Keaira and Ipswitch helps players gain experience and level up. Weapons, armor and items are only available for purchase from one location at a time in the current region, and are increasingly valuable later in the game. The game is a 3rd person video game with the camera at an isometric angle, much like the original Baldur's Gate series. Gameplay strategy is different for all characters: the human relies on ranged attacks and stealth, the elf character can cast magic spells, and the dwarf is an all-around fighter. A local co-op mode is available. The second player can select one of the two unused characters, and plays with the main character on a shared game screen. In co-op, players level up depending on how many hits they got on a certain enemy and if they were alive when the enemy died. One player can take all of the money and leave the other player with nothing, this is described as being greedy.
Enemy AI was very advanced for its generation, enemies would chase the player and archers would stay far away from the player and in an area where they could do a lot of damage on the player. However, there were a few flaws in the Enemey AI, for example the player could have the whole of the AI swarm up and then hide behind a pillar only to have them scatter again.
Like the original Baldur's Gate series, the game camera is in a 3rd person isometric view, the difference in gameplay though is that Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance has real-time gameplay whereas the original series was displayed through a tactical mode.