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"Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2004 by Destination Software. It is a roleplaying game based on the Dungeons and Dragons "Forgotten Realms" campaign. In the United States, the game received a rating of "T" which deemed it suitable for teenage years and above due to its violent content.
The Baldur's Gate setting is not a new one in terms of video games. Many heroes have passed through its lands since its original release in 1998 for the personal computer, and the player is once again greeted to a new quest in "Dark Alliance". The story begins with an unnamed hero who is captured by thieves and robbed of his possessions. After this brutal occurrence he is left at the town of Baldur's Gate and discovers that the band of thieves responsible for this event are also notorious murderers. The player will take it upon himself to find these thieves all while seeking personal revenge. In a sort of amnesia moment, the player will immediately choose a class, or profession, for his character as if he did not have one before. He or she will be able to choose from archer, fighter or mage which each bear different characteristics; the archer will be able to eliminate enemies from a distance using a bow and arrow whereas the fighter is a close combat type who must endure hits during battle while dealing damage to his victims. The mage is a spellcaster and may attack from any range depending on his abilities. The game features developed roleplaying points, such as assigning experience points to abilities to attain certain "levels" but does not come across as being a more full-fledged roleplaying game. It is rather a simple hack and slash title which focuses more on combat and less on tact and diplomacy (or perhaps vile self service for an evil personality). Dark Alliance features many stages of play for the player to engage with. Not immediately confined to the town, the player will take his character through many areas to span over three distinct lands in the Dungeons and Dragons world. Despite this vast setting the game is somewhat short in roleplaying terms. Independent sources claim that there is only eight hours of actual in game time contained in this cartridge.
The graphics of this title are presented from an isometric perspective which enabled a pseudo 3D environment. While detailing was of a good standard, it was obvious that some shortcuts were used. The bodies of each of the three classes is identical and features no obvious physical differences; a mage may be more slender than a more muscular warrior perhaps but such is not evident in Dark Alliance. The audio, however, is of a great standard and featured numerous short but good implementations. The game features a wide variety of enemies and each have their own personal sound effects which allows differentiation between them. Each enemy type will emit a different battle cry and death groan during an encounter in the wild.
Overall, Dark Alliance could be better suited as more of an action title rather than a true roleplaying game. It is an excellent title in its own right nonetheless, and I would recommend it to prospective buyers.