The Baldur’s Gate series redefined and reinvigorated the PC role-playing scene, and now Interplay brings it to the Xbox. Don’t be fooled, however, this isn’t a traditional role-playing game, but rather a fun, wall-to-wall action hack ‘n’ slash adventure in the mold carved by Gauntlet and Diablo–one that nonetheless conforms to the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rule set.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance casts you as one of three basic characters: an elf sorceress, a human archer, or a dwarf fighter. From there, you’re set free inside a huge Dungeons & Dragons world replete with dungeons, forests, and ice caves. Naturally, it’s all filled to the brim with horrible monsters, wicked traps, treasures, and fabled magical weapons. As you go, you’re constantly rewarded with new weaponry, new monsters to fight, and experience points you can put into your character stats to grow even more powerful. You can swap equipment in an inventory “paper doll” screen. Those changes are reflected in your onscreen character, so you’ll start with simple weapons and a drab appearance, and you’ll end up a big, mean superhero at the conclusion.
The graphics are simply wonderful, and the controls are accurate, responsive, and fun to use–which is necessary for the constant hacking and slashing required. The game is all the more fun when you recruit a buddy and play in cooperative mode. –Bob Andrews