Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II
Dark alliance II boxart.jpg
Developer(s) Black Isle Studios, Interplay Entertainment
Publisher(s) Interplay Entertainment
Distributor(s) Vivendi Games
Series Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
Engine Dark Alliance Engine
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox
Release date(s) January 20, 2004
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) single player, multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: T
Media/distribution DVD

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II is an action role-playing game released for the PlayStation 2 on December 2, 2003 (US) and the Xbox on January 20, 2004 (US). It is the sequel to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and was developed by Black Isle Studios, its gameplay is based on the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and is set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting.

Contents

Development

In March 2003, Interplay announced that they were working on Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II for the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, the game was reported to introduce item crafting to the series and have five playble characters.[1] At 2003's Electronic Entertainment Expo Interplay showcased the game and revealed three playable characters : a human barbarian, a moon elf necromancer and a drow monk. Interplay stated that if the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions sold well, they would port the game to Gamecube.[2]

In September 2003, Interplay announced that it had canceled its deal with Vivendi Universal to be the publisher of its games, due to alleged breaches of the working agreement, failure of payment, and was considering legal action.[3] In October Interplay announced that they planned to distribute Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel themselves. EB Games and Gamestop websites then put the game up for a January 2004 release date instead of 2003, Interplay, however, denied these rumors at first, stating it was aiming for a fourth quarter release.[4] In November 2003 Interplay announced that it had resolved its legal dispute with Vivendi Universal, and had returned to the prior publishing agreements.[5] In November 2003 Interplay released new screenshots for Dark Alliance II, and announced that Dark Alliance II would not be released until 2004.[6] A company financial report published in late 2003 suggested that the game (as well as Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel) may be release in January 2004 in some regions.[7]

In December 2003, Interplay shut down Dark Alliance II developer, Black Isle Studios.[8] The game was released in January, 2004.

Story, setting and characters

Characters

The new playable characters are Dorn Redbear, Ysuran Aundril, Borador Goldhand, Vhaidra Uoswiir, Allessia Faithhammer, Drizzt Do'Urden and Artemis Entreri.

Dorn is a human barbarian that comes to Baldur's Gate seeking glory like his idol, former companion and the man he rescues, Vahn. Ysuran is a necromancer who comes to Baldur's Gate in search of his memory as he is an amnesic that knows only his magic and his name. Borador is a Dwarf that comes to Baldur's Gate for money and fame in order to release his clan from its debt to elves. Vhaidra is a Drow that comes to Baldur's Gate, fleeing the destruction of her house she looks for vengeance against those who destroyed it. Allessia Faithhammer is a cleric who comes to Baldur's Gate in the name of Helm, she comes to spread the word of Helm and become a high-ranking priest. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II also features the brief appearance of the three original characters from Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance: Vahn, Kromlech and Adrianna; they are not playable and can only be seen.

Drizzt Do'Urden returns from the previous game as an unlockable character that can be played as after completing the game, Artemis Entreri, Drizzt's arch-enemy, is also an unlockable playable character.

Setting

While the original game focussed on many areas scattered throughout the Sword Coast and Western Heartlands, the second game is moreover based in the Sword Coast in the Baldur's Gate region. Many areas in the Baldur's Gate Region are explored, including Cloak Wood, Trollbark Forest, The Wood of Sharp Teeth and Wayfork Village. Unlike the previous game, many more areas of Baldur's Gate are accessible, the sewers also return as an explorable region. However, the player only goes through one level of the sewers. While the Elfsong Tavern can be seen, it is not accessible, instead the player is able to go to the Purple Wyrm Tavern and Inn instead. The Old Warehouse, the Firewind Manor, Omduil's Manor, the Church of Helm and Bloodmire Manor are other explorable areas within Baldur's Gate. The High Moor, Skull Gorge and the Battle of Bones are also accessible areas in the game. The Keep of Pale Knight is ventured through near the Battle of Bones. The Elemental Planes are also areas that are accessible, in the Elemental Plane of Shadow the players fight Mordoc SeLanmere. The Sunset Mountains and the Marsh of Chelimber, the two other areas of the first game, are only mentioned and not actually seen.

Story

Vahn, Kromlech & Adrianna come out of Eldrith the Betrayer's final shadow gate and walk only few steps before they are attacked by nightwalkers. The nightwalkers surround them and their leader, the vampire king, Mordoc SeLanmere approaches the trio, telling them that his allies will be happy now that they can start rebuilding the Onyx Tower. He then takes the three to the Keep of Pale Night dungeons to be interrogated by his vampire servant Xanhast. In the Keep of Pale Night, Xanhast finishes interrogating Mordoc's prisoners. Mordoc tells Xanhast that Karne never died to the prisoners hands, but instead faked his death for the prisoners to kill Xantam. He also reveals Karne to be his arch-enemy and a high-ranking member of the Zhentarim.

Dorn Redbear, Vhaidra Uoswirr, Allessia Faithhammer, Ysuran Auondril and Borador "Goldhand" stumble upon each other while heading down the Trade Way to go to the city of Baldur's Gate and form an uneasy and unstable "dark alliance" with eachother. Together, they pit themselves against the Red Fang Marauders goblin army and save Wayfork Village from them, gaining the favour of wealthy merchant Randalla. At Baldur's Gate, the caravan guard Keaira informs Dorn of the fight against Eldrith the Betrayer. Randalla hires all of the adventurers to fight the Hands of Glory, a new thieves guild that has arisen. They learn that the Hands of Glory is a faction of the Red Fang Marauders that is led by a creature made out of the parts of several different beings called Argesh. They are then hired by Randalla again to find the mystery behind rash and grisly murders, they trace these murders down to a rich and powerful woman named Luvia Bloodmire who is a scientist that creates beings out of body parts such as Argesh. The gang foils her plot and as she flees, they learn of her trade with the Red Fang Marauders. The fragile group stays in contact after being hired by the Captain of the Guard to take down the Red Fang Marauders in their base at the Cloak Wood, they fight and defeat the marauders leader, the Red Queen, effectively disbanding the Red Fang Marauders.

They follow the Red Queen to Firewind Manor where they are pit to the dungeons by the Red Queen's Mistress, Lady Argozia Firewind. Argozia had been controlling the Hands of Glory through Luvia Bloodmire who she was also funding. Argozia kills the Red Queen and is met with Karne who informs her of the possible consequences of her failure with the Red Fang Marauders, revealing the marauders themselves to be a faction of the Zhentarim. As Karne leaves, Argozia transforms into the Red Dragon Aizagora who then sets fire to the manor, giving the heroes just enough time to escape. Xanhast's spy in the Red Fang Marauder's informs the Zhentarim information on how to activate the Onyx Tower, the information is also given out to the Harpers who have sent one of their ambassador's to stop them, this ambassador is a high ranking Harper named Jherek. Jherek informs his Harper assisstant, Randalla, of the situation and she decides to send the heroes to him, despite them having parted ways, however, Randalla falls in love with Dorn and manages to persuade him to work for Jherek.

Jherek sends the heroes to retrieve elemental objects, each time the Zhentarim attack them using their servants such as Hill Giants and the treacherous Lizardman Sleyvas who informs the five of Jhereks doings with Vahn, Adrianna and Kromlech. Mordoc is alerted of his plan's success by Xanhast who informs him that the Zhentarim hound the Harpers. Mordoc prepares to activate the Onyx Heart and ends his suspicions on how the plot is coming together so perfectly.

Vhaidra journey's to the Cloud Peaks to fight the Dark Ravens, a group of murderous Drow that assisted in the fall of House Uoswirr. Borador reclaims the Goblinbreaker clan name and frees Gandam's Hold from goblins, hobgoblins and a basilisk. Dorn slays the dragon Baragoth and has his druid activated by the druid Allana and Ysuran learns of his horrid past. Ysuran decides that he will worry not about the past, but rather think of the future and build his name into one of honour. Allessia then frees the Church of Helm from Goreth Vileback, a Cleric of Cyric that molests and nearly impregnates her, but is eventually killed by her.

Jherek then finds that the five are back in town and recruits them for an adventure to the elemental planes, which the five do not readily accept to. In the end though, they journey to and fro the elemental planes and the Prime Material Plane activating elemental foundations, each time being attacked by Zhentarim agents who surprisingly are trying to stop them instead of activating the foundation for their own and taking the Onyx Tower. Meanwhile, Randalla is seduced by Xanhast with whom she has sex with. Xanhast then converts her into a vampire. Mordoc then activates the Onyx Tower as its new master having the only way to enter it, the shadow gate used by Vahn, Adrianna and Kromlech.

Karne then reveals that he had been spying on Mordoc, his arch-enemy and takes Jherek and the five adventurers to the Keep of Pale Night to confront the White Prince. There the five adventurer's find Vahn, Kromlech and Adrianna who readily join them and decide to kill their former captor. Mordoc, however, flees to Baldur's Gate and uses the Onyx Heart to transform the citizens into zombies. The five return to Baldur's Gate where a vampiric Randalla attacks them only to be killed. The Onyx Tower, now given a gate so that Mordoc's allies can enter as they please, is entered by the adventurers. They then encounter Xanhast in Eldrith's lair, the roof of the Onyx Tower where they slay him. They enter the final shadow gate which has been reworked to take them to the Elemental Plane of Shadow.

At the Plane of Shadow, they are attacked by an empowered Mordoc SeLanmere who nearly defeats the eight adventures but is pushed back at the last minute and killed leaving the Onyx Heart with no ruler. This forces the five adventurers to destroy the Onyx Heart, thus destroying the Onyx Tower. They are teleported back to Baldur's Gate where they are greeted by the grateful citizens of Baldur's Gate, among whom are a revived Randalla, who take the heroes to the Grand Duke's of Baldur's Gate.

There was supposed to be a connection between Dark Alliance II and Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound.[citation needed] The connection was made through terms of location but due to the fact that the game was never released, if it was also going to be made through story was never revealed.

Gameplay

The game is a hack and slash Action role-playing game, playable in single player, and shared screen multiplayer modes.

Character statistics at the game's beginning are preset, and the player may only customize his or her character's statistics through gaining experience points. Experience points are gained by winning battles, and at specific levels the character gains new ability points to spend on enhancements specific to the character class. The ability choices affect the fighting style of the character. After completing their own unique sidequest, each character in the game, minus the two unlockables, will level up into a prestige class.

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II gave players the ability to create custom weapons, armor, rings, and necklaces through the shopkeeper. Players could increase these items by +1 to +5 (or +15 in extreme, but this can only be done with necklaces, rings, and boots) using runestones, which were needed for all customizations and increased the item's power. A player could also use gems to add special effects to the items. Two different types of gems, in addition to the required runestones, could be used on one item. There are several different kinds of gemstones and have a different effect on different types of items such as armour/ weapons.

The game gives the player the ability of using companions, however it is required and not optional. The characters Karne and Jherek fight alongside the player character in the fight against Mordoc SeLanmere. These companions can not level up or gain any abilities due to the small time they were with the player. There are also a number of characters that help the enemy fight zombies at the end in the city of Baldur's Gate, but these are not regarded companions as they are even less intractable than Karne and Jherek as they do not follow the player around.

Unlike the first game, in which Baldur's Gate was a location that was only featured during one act, the city of Baldur's Gate appears in all but the prologue act. It acts as a hub city and few quests take place in the city, but are rather commissioned from the city and it is from Baldur's Gate that the adventure's travel to and fro their adventures. The city also allows access to a world map from which players can go to various locations and participate in sidequests. This thus makes the game semi open-world.

The game's ruleset is based on a limited set of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule-set, it includes many more features from the ruleset that the original, such as the implementation of idequests, a world map and item creation, companions and more enemies from the monster manual.

Critical reception

The game received positive reviews; Metacritic has an average score of 77% based on 44 reviews for the Xbox version and the PlayStation 2 version received an average score of 78% based on 44 reviews.

GameSpot reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the game and scored it an 8.0 out of 10.[9] IGN reviewed the Xbox version of the game and scored it an 8.4 out of 10.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II announced". http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/bgdarkalliance2/news/6023648/baldurs-gate-dark-alliance-ii-announced?mode=all. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Dark Alliance II E3 preview". 16 May 2003. http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/bgdarkalliance2/news/6028246/baldurs-gate-dark-alliance-ii-hands-on-impressions?sid=6028246&mode=previews. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Justin Calvert (29 September 2003), Vivendi dumped by Interplay, GameSpot, http://uk.gamespot.com/news/6076127/vivendi-dumped-by-interplay 
  4. ^ "Interplay denies 2004 release date.". http://www.gamespot.com/news/6076898/fallout-and-dark-alliance-ii-release-date-debacle. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Interplay reconciles with Vivendi Universal". http://www.gamespot.com/news/6078266/vu-games-and-interplay-back-together. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Dark Alliance II pushed back to 2004". 13 November 2003. http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/bgdarkalliance2/news/6083432/definitely-no-dark-alliance-ii-until-04?mode=all. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Dark Alliance II delayed again". http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/bgdarkalliance2/news/6083717/interplay-in-the-red-concedes-possible-game-delays?mode=all. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Black Isle Studios shut down". 9 December 2009. http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/rpg/bgdarkalliance2/news/6085243/interplay-shuts-down-black-isle-studios?mode=all. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  9. ^ GameSpot review
  10. ^ IGN review

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