If you're looking for a hack-and-slash game on the go, this is the one to get.
It's truly a mystery why there aren't more solid hack-and-slash-style games available for the Game Boy Advance. Role-playing games seem to be popular, and the flexible, albeit time-consuming, manner in which the characters in a typical hack-and-slash are outfitted lends itself well to a system where players tend to play in brief spurts or in marathon four-hour sessions. Electronic Arts did a nice job with its Lord of the Rings games, but they were story-based and didn't really give players much leeway in customizing their characters. Ubisoft's Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is more in line with what hack-and-slash devotees are looking for. It has all of the characters and story events--and a majority of the essential gameplay elements--that made the Baldur's Gate series so addictive in the first place, but now they're all on a highly portable GBA cartridge.
The GBA version of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance unfolds exactly as the original PS2, Xbox, and GameCube versions of the game did. After an unfortunate mugging, your character awakens in the town of Baldur's Gate and learns that the same thieves who stole your goods are also responsible for a series of murders that have recently befallen the town. The initial search to root out these scoundrels ultimately leads your character on a quest to save the world, which, in practical terms, spans three unique lands and more than 28 unique game locations.
At the outset, there are three character classes to pick from: fighter, wizard, and archer. A fourth class, elven fighter, becomes available the first time you complete the game. This may not seem like a wide array of choices, but the abilities and attributes that make up each class amount to wildly divergent play styles for each of the four characters. The fighter is a tank who can deflect most attacks by blocking. The fighter can also dole out upwards of 200 points of damage per strike. However, the character's ability to avoid long-range attacks is poor, as are the accuracy and strength of its own long-range attacks. On the contrary, the wizard and archer are strong in the areas where the fighter is weak. So if you choose a wizard, you'll use spells to do your dirty work, while the added charisma bonus will allow you to buy armor and potions more cheaply than any of the other classes. The archer is more of a hit-and-run-style character. The archer is not as powerful as the fighter or the wizard but is much quicker and more capable of landing arrows at great distances. Last but not least, the elven fighter is a reward for completing the game, because this warrior combines all of the positive aspects of the other classes.
Every detail of Baldur's Gate reads like a how-to of what you should expect to find in a hack-and-slash game. While The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King both do a decent job of allowing you to level up characters and gather unique weapons, the emphasis in those games is on the story and not on combat, the loot, or character customization. In Baldur's Gate, enemies don't just attack in mass and run right into your sword. If you're fighting a pair of kobolds, one of them will invariably try to get behind you in order to bypass your blocking abilities. Likewise, a gnoll archer won't try to attack you up close but will instead hang back and attempt to peg you with arrows. Your character earns experience for every creature you dispatch, which results in automatic attribute increases at preset levels and also gives you points to pour into specific magic and fighting skills. Each character has a dozen or so spells and skills that you can upgrade as you see fit. At the same time, you'll find new weapons, armor pieces, and status items virtually everywhere, like in vases, in barrels, and in treasure chests. You'll also find these items when they are dropped by enemies or at the merchant shops that are located in each of the game's three main hubs. One extremely neat aspect of this is that your character's appearance changes depending on what items you have equipped. The various armor pieces differ in terms of size, shape, and color, as do each of the weapons. You can look at what your character is carrying without bringing up the inventory menu and know exactly what weapon, shield, and armor you have equipped at any given moment.
- Player Reviews: 15
- Game Universe:
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (PS2, GBA, XBOX, GC),
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II (PS2, XBOX),
- Baldur's Gate (PC, DC, MAC, MOBILE, PS),
- Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (PC, MAC),
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (PC, MAC),
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (PC, MAC),
- Baldur's Gate: 4 in 1 Boxset (PC),
- Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition (PC, IP, MAC),
- Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PC)
- Number of Players: