26 September 2008

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance - Game Cube

Usually I rant or rave about something here, but this time I shall record my shitory with this game. It is a sort of a combination.

First let me state clearly, I am somewhat biased when it comes to WOTC. I miss TSR I will always miss TSR. The D&D manuals they produced had elements of fun in them. WOTC made them far too businesslike and serious. They took a lot of the Roleplay out of RPG in my opinion and made it nothing more than statistics and numbers for many. Luckily most players of the table top games ignore that and put it back in. But when it comes to the RPG genre on stand alone games that is all most can do. Rill the dice (or the randomizer) and go from there.

I loved the old Westwood studio games for TSR. So when the Baldur's Gate series began to be published, I was excited. Except the PC versions hated my machine. So I sighed an watched enviously from the sidelines as others played. When we got a Game cube a number of years back, one of the first games I got for myself was Dark Alliance.

First let me state I am an old gamer to me that means lots of saves and many versions of the same game at possible branch points so I can go back and take the other path in case I am missing something. Baldur's gate required a huge amount of space to save, around 30 blocks. so much for multiple copies on one memory card - at least not as any as I like.

So I made my first character. I took the human archer. Bad choice for me it turns out. The isometric view is a pain when targeting enemies within your range but off the viewing screen. Yes you get a trajectory line (and your arrows do NOT arc as they would IRL) But what use is a line when you cannot tell where the target is? Luckily the character is competent with a sword as well so that is a plus.

I made it through the first part of the in town game then I hit the part that has been described as 'It sucketh mightily'. A series of dropping platforms, the last set kept beating me. I spent ages trying to cross that, then gave it up for other games. But every once in a while I would return to that spot and try again. I found cheat codes that would get me past that spot, but I REALLY hate doing that so I kept trying. Finally about ready to give up and cheat I challenged my daughter.

I am almost embarrassed to write this, but it shows what lateral thinking can do. She tried it. She failed. She tried again and failed. Then she did what I should have thought of from the get go. She remapped the controller so that A was my jump. She made it across and still harasses me about it.

So on I go. The story is pretty standard, except I run into the beholder boss that anyone can figure is coming from the first scene in the tavern, much sooner than I expected. My daughter is watching as I run panicked around the room, certain I am about to die from the a spell at any moment. Then I decide, what the hell, go into berserker mode and as she says flailed to a win. I was shocked. When she asked what I was worried about I yanked out the old TSR book and had her look up the Beholder entry. She was equally incredulous that I won first time and with no deaths.

From there you go off to discover what exactly is rotten in the state of Faerun. It proceeds much like a normal crawler. But then I hit the problem. I don't know if the cube is dying or if there is a problem with the disk, but I started getting system errors. At first it was as a new area loaded. I suspected the Cube. It is old. But then it died in the middle of a level with nothing in particular happening. Then again in a boss battle, then again in the same battle. Maybe a disk problem? I researched on the NET, nothing about an issue that I could find. The error occurs in the same area but not always in exactly the same spot. I check with the local alpha geeks at the gaming store. They don't remember any issues and can;t find a copy of the game. I am not amused.

Today I walk out into the living room to see my husband playing Animal Crossing on the cube (the PS2 hated me last week as well btw and went blank in the middle of /.hack: Infection) It was running fine. A few slow downs on the gameboy advance link, but seemed fine. So with trepidation I loaded Baldur's Gate. I made it through the boss battle and 2 more. Then I got the error as I headed into the swamp to investigate the tower in part 3. I turned the machine off and will try again tomorrow.

So far my rating on this game is a solid 6. It is good, but WOTC breaks their own rules on monsters out of their own books. Characters regain hits over time, monsters do not. And who ever heard of taking out a beholder by running around a room flailing or a dragon alone? I hate the point of view for range attacks. But on the plus side. It is a great dungeon crawler, the closest I am going to get to Eye of the Beholder or the Lands of Lore series now that Westwood is gone. There are not too many side quests and the story moves along quickly.

If the GameCube and the disk allow, I will finish this game. It has bugged me for a long time that I have not been able to do so.

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