A strangely muted sequel,
This review is from: Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance II (Xbox) (Video Game)
If you played the first Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance game either on the Xbox or the PS2, then there isn't much I need to tell you: The number of characters you can choose from has increased from three to five, and if playing in multiplayer you can still only have a maximum of two players even though the Xbox supports up to four.
The next thing is something which leaves me (for a change) rather lost for words. There's no doubt that this is a genuine sequel to the original Dark Alliance game, and yet Dark Alliance II is somehow, inexplicably, not quite as good. It has the feel of a sequel which hasn't been made by the team which made the well-regarded first game. The story and presentation just don't impress in the way that those in the original game did.
There are some technical improvements for those determined to play it anyway (and yes, you should certainly play it) - You can now customise any non-magical but decent weapons you find lying around by combining them with magical gems which you buy or occasionally find. If you then subsequently find a better basic weapon, you can break down the one you made earlier to recover some, not all, of the materials you used in it and combine them to make a new weapon. This is, I admit, a good feature. To be good at it requires the appropriate skill, so in a two player game it's wise to have one player specialise in this skill.
And now for those of you who never played Dark Alliance, but did play and adore the original PC Baldurs Gate/ Icewind Dale/ Planescape Torment games. Hold on tight, because you're in for a shock.
This game (and the first one) bear very little resemblance to the superb PC RPGs which also carried the Baldur's Gate badge. What you have instead is a straightforward, but very good looking 3d isometric dungeon 'hack and slash' game which bears a much closer resemblance to Blizzard's 'Diablo'. As such, the story, the comprehensive conversations with NPCs, inter-character relationships, the faithful rendering of almost every D&D spell - all the things which you would have found in the PC games are virtually nonexistent here.
That's not to say that Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II is a bad game - it's not, but it's definitely not the game that PC Baldur's Gate fans will be hoping it is.
However - if you can handle the idea of playing something Diablo-Like or something like 3D isometric 'Gauntlet' and you can ignore the fact that it's almost entirely unlike the PC Baldur's Gate games, then you will actually enjoy yourself a lot, especially if you rope in a friend. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance was the first Xbox game I ever managed to get my girlfriend to play: She was so addicted to that, when we finished it, we moved straight on to Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance II. Now she has me scouring the Xbox back-catalogue for similar games.