Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

I am a seasoned player of Forgotten Realms games on the PC, including Baldur’s Gate. This, of course, is nothing like those; it’s a first-person hack and slash, rather than a top down rpg. That said, I’m a D&D tabletop gamer too, so this should be right up my alley. Er… so to speak.

01 - Cover Pic

Turns out I owned this on PS2 as well as XBox. Against my better judgement, it’s the PS2 version I’ve let go, since I also own Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II on the XBox and it offends my sense of order to have them split across consoles when there’s any other choice (Grrr, Tomb Raider franchise switching from Sony to Microsoft *spit*).

I can immediately tell I’ve switched up a generation from my last post. Just three years after Deathtrap Dungeon was released, the hardware upgrade, improved graphics and consoles designed for the big screen means there’s barely a pixel in sight. I’m pretty sure I’ve played at least one of the Dark Alliance games before, because decent two-player co-ops are like gold dust and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who wasn’t a console or computer gamer of some form. In fact, I suspect it was one that I played with  gonzohistory who suggested this game for my next post. Also, while I’m here, I know XBox is oft lauded for it’s ‘man-sized’ controllers, unlike the Playstation ones which, as my partner puts it, are only any good for tiny little girl hands. That said, this controller is just ridiculously unwieldy and I’m having the opposite problem. I have to shift the position of my hands to reach different buttons and sticks. Hmph.

02 - Character Selection

It would seem my character options are sparse, and if I want to play a girl, I have to play a witch in a leotard. My preference in dungeon hackers are always ranger/thief builds, to the closest of which in this selection is a tall, stout male archer.  Grumpy though it makes me, I’m going to go against ‘type’ in order to play the female; elven sorceress it is.

The opening is a traditional ‘You are weary from your travels and head for a tavern’ type, but on the way I get thonked on the head and have all my stuff nicked. I guess that’s one way to start you with nothing. And the thieves were so subtle!

03 - Super Sneaky

The town guard scare them off before they can kill me and I head over to the Elf Song Tavern, where I’m purred at by the very bosomy bar wench, Alyth. Also, there is a lot of hip-waggling and leaning forward and sultry thigh-stroking going on for such a brief conversation.

04 Wench

Hips don’t lie!

The male NPCs, however, are more or less clothed oblongs with wrinkles, however I found one that wiggled almost as much as Alyth. Alas, I think it is because he’s a drunk (who promptly enlists me to steal some alcohol for him). Anyhoo – I’m told to look for the thieves in the sewers, and I can’t get to the sewers from the streets like any normal thug; I have to go through the rat-infested cellar first. I’m sure I’ve played this mission before. >.>

Down below, the first thing I learn is that you can smash up barrels for loot. Definitely my kind of game. So I go around vandalising everything, kill a bunch of rats with my little pig-sticker and then, in investigating all the buttons on my controller to try and find the inventory to equip the rusty sword I just picked up, I accidentally set fire to something. Oops.

06 Accidentally on fire

And this is why I don’t play mages or sorceresses. Last button I press is the inventory. It seems my character is also in perpetual wiggle mode. So restless, these women! I also learn that my name is Adrianna.

I have to say, for a tavern so small, the footprint of this cellar is fucking huge. I kill all the rats, and carry on to fight some… I don’t know… kobolds? In the hopes of finding the wine and some more loot. I also find myself dead three rooms in. That’ll teach me to be so hasty when I’m playing a weakling witch.

07 Death by kobold

Course, having been reminded that I’m a sorceress and not meant to be relying on my rusty sword alone, I then burn my way through the next dungeon until I can go no further. I bet if Alyth knew there was a full one hundred and forty one gold pieces, twenty two health potions, twelve rejuvenation potions, two recall potions, two swords, a shield, a club, some leather boots, two hundred arrows and a ruby down here, she’d’ve cleared it out sooner, eh?

Alyth digs seventy five gold coins out of her ample bosom to pay me for dealing with her rat problem and gives me the key to the sewers, I give the drunk his bottle of wine and he gives me a healing potion, and I sell a load of junk to the merchant loitering in the corner giving me juuuuuust enough to buy a shortbow. Who says I can’t both be a girl and be an archer! Course, that leaves me with no money for armour, but then again at least I’m not playing a… oh. Wait.

Oy vey! Off we go to rescue the useless runt who came running after me and apparently got lost despite me having to run back through every single chamber of the cellar without seeing him in order to get paid! I counted, by the way, and there are a full seven corridors and fifteen chambers down here, including the secret room I missed first time round.

08 Secret room

I get treated to a little cut scene with some bad guys plotting Bad Things (TM) and the guy I came to rescue, locked in a cage. I also get to witness a conversation about how he is not to be harmed, which I guess means I take take my merry old time looting and killing. So, on into the sewers I go. Tell you what, despite the number of boxes around, this dungeon is far less breakable than the last. I was spoilt, I think. I leave my little avatar wiggling away on the inventory screen while I pause to get a drink and roll a cigarette, and my housemate points out that she appears to be periodically yelling something. Or at least, opening her mouth and mouthing words. With her shield and huge club, I have to saw she looks like she’s shouting ‘COME ONNNN!’ followed by a snarl that is perhaps meant to be a smile. Regardless, I take the hint.

10 Shouting

I’ve worked out how to switch between my bow and club quickly, which is just as well since there’s no auto-aim in this game, and you can’t smash up barrels with arrows (or I can’t be arsed to waste enough arrows to try), so I charge on. The loot drops from the beasties make up for the lack of barrels and boxes, and I equip some more armour and switch to a better weapon. You do die easily in this game; it’s good that saves are frequent. Alas the loot dropped changes every time, so luck of the draw I guess. Also, when you pick up particularly good loot, run back and save if there’s a save point nearby.

There’s a section part way through the first sewer where you literally encounter a wall of goblins/kobolds, at least a dozen or more, guarding three levers. After five attempts, pretty much the only way I managed to kill them without dying in a volley of spears was to push a box in front of me up to one end of the line and shove my way down the line, burning and hacking them up in twos and threes and healing a lot. With only two healing potions left, I (save and) carry on but my hopes are not too high at this point.

11 Line of kobolds

This is about a third of the corpses

I’m amazed I carry on as well as I do. Narrowly surviving more bugbear attacks and hordes of kobolds, I come upon a kobold assembly and the Bugbear Chieftan who holds the key to the jail.

12 Bugbear chieftan

Funnelling the kobolds off through a doorway is easy, but unlike the previous bugbears this one won’t be taken down with prolonged use of burning hands, a healing potion and a rejuvenation potion. Instead, I’m reduced to old school boss run arounds, where I lure him back to the save point and the pair of us chase each other around it two or three times til he gets tired and starts strolling back to his dungeon, I shoot him in the ass with an arrow and the chase begins again. And thus, he dies, and I get a Masterwork Club for my trouble.

13 Dead dawg

I free the guy from the jail cell, get a key to another part of the sewers from him, go back and clear a closed off section of the level which is full of dead kobolds and gold and then a giant mother rat and thank fuck there was a staircase back to the town in the prison, because I’ve literally just had to drop my clothes to pick up the last piece of loot to sell. So now I’m running around with my padded helmet, my leather boots, my club, shield and bracers aaaaaand my strapless bra and thong. You know, I don’t know how the art team imagined this sort of get up would stay up. Apparently I have magical adhesive breasts.

14 Adhesive breasts

In a world of dungeons and dragons, where the laws of physics do not apply…

I have enough money from all this to buy some studded leather armour, which solves the underwear problem, (but pretty much means I can never carry loot again) and at this point my boy gets home, so I save and he opts in as a second player. Of course, that doesn’t help us much since it’s all bugbears from here and he has no xp and no armour or weapons, so at this point I’m closing up the blog post and we’re restarting with his level one dwarf and my level three sorceress to go kick some kobold ass.

Over and out, folks!