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Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (Game Boy Advance) review


"Robots, thousands of them were gathering in the middle of a secluded bit of desert out in Arizona. I was hiding behind a cactus, watching them. The Robots were gathering and rallying for the soon to be invasion of Phoenix, several thousand humans, aware of the Robots assemblage, began to march towards them screaming curses and battle cries. The Robots became aware of their presence and began to assemble for combat. I braced myself for the worst. The humans were outnumbered 50-1. It would be a..."



Robots, thousands of them were gathering in the middle of a secluded bit of desert out in Arizona. I was hiding behind a cactus, watching them. The Robots were gathering and rallying for the soon to be invasion of Phoenix, several thousand humans, aware of the Robots assemblage, began to march towards them screaming curses and battle cries. The Robots became aware of their presence and began to assemble for combat. I braced myself for the worst. The humans were outnumbered 50-1. It would be a massacre.

The leader of the Robots ordered the attack. When all of a sudden his head came off. The back row of the army, armed with guns had begun shooting. And was ripping apart the front line of the Robot army. They werenít hitting the humans at all. The front line soldiers panicked. They began to run in circles, and run away from the humans. The humans easily cut through them. The back line began to panic and started running in circles as well. And when they did shoot, they seemed to hit their own men. The robot army was quickly vanquished. Victory belonged to the humans.


This is essentially what it is like playing Baldurís Gate: Dark Alliance. Your enemies are complete and utterly incompetent in the art of combat. It ends up being a major factor in the game being a rather tedious experience.

So what is it exactly that makes the A.I so bad? Letís start with the most obvious example, which can be summed up in two words. Friendly. Fire. In Baldurís Gate you will run across numerous opponents which can shoot at you from a distance. While at first this may seem like it would help make the game more challenging. It actually ends up making the game 10 times easier. For example, letís say a melee thief attacks me while an archer also shoots arrows at me. If I position myself so the melee thief is between me and the archer, the archer will end up constantly shooting his arrows at his own guy, completely oblivious. This ends up making it where in areas plagued with several ranged men, it can actually be easier to just run around in circles and around the archers until they all kill each other.

Unfortunately, your melee opponents arenít much smarter either. They seem to be programmed simply to see the enemy and then attack the enemy. This means if 5 spiders are standing near each other when they see you, all 5 of them will just run right in front of you and just attack. Each slash of your sword will hurt all 5 of them. They donít bother to spread out and try to flank you or anything remotely intelligent like that. Sometimes you will find yourself surrounded by enemies, but this only seems to happen when your enemies were placed all around the room. The problem can easily be fixed by running away and letting all your opponents bunch of together while chasing you down.

Speaking of running away, it seems the programmers of Baldurís Gate made it so once you leave a certain area, they are no longer allowed to follow you. Also, once they reach the end of their little moving zone, they also seem to freeze for a few seconds and not attack back. So it can be rather easy with some of the big tough enemies to get to the edge of their zone and then attack them before they retreat back, when you can then lure them to do it again.

Even outside of the easy ways to exploit the shaky A.I, the combat really isnít special. With a melee character all you have to do is attack, back up a step or two to avoid the enemies attack back, step up, attack again, simple as that.

Another rather tedious part is backtracking. In Act II there are two areas where after making a long journey, you are forced to walk all the way back to the entrance. In one such area you have to re-fight all the enemies you already tore through. Itís oversights like this that make me think that the developers definitely got a bit lazy making the game.

With Baldurís Gate poor A.I, the game already seems very unrealistic. What makes it worse is the sound and the graphics. Thereís hardly any soundtrack at all. So most of the time you will hear the constant annoying sound of your characterís footsteps, and him grunting like Maria Sharapova (except itís not a sexy grunt, from an incredible attractive chick, itís from some big sweaty guy >_>) in a tennis match at every swing of the sword.

The graphics are a bit better in comparison. You have some huge bosses and such, which Iím pretty sure wasnít done before Baldurís Gate. But outside of that, they were really lacking in character sprites. Half of your towns look the same. And for enemies, while there are a decent amount of different enemies they use the cheap trick of simply changing some of the enemies color to pass them off as new foes. That always ticked me off.

But there is at least some positive points to Baldurís Gate, some of the stuff outside of combat isnít too bad. You can customize your character at level ups by pouring orbs into stat upgrades and such. Thereís also quite a few different weapons and armor. And while the armor is kind of boring, as youíll just equip whatever has the best armor rating, the different weapons require you to make some strategic decisions. Do you want a high maximum damage or a high minimum damage? Do you want the weak weapon that can freeze opponents, or the strong weapon with no extra elements? Decisions such as these help make things a bit more interesting outside of combat.

But overall Baldurís Gate is a rather uninteresting game, and you are probably better off with the Lord of the Rings games to whet your portable hack and slash appetite.

Rating: 4/10

icehawk's avatar
Community review by icehawk (July 18, 2005)

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