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Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is an action role-playing game released for the GameCube and Game Boy Advance based on Dungeons & Dragons.

Gameplay

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is a real-time hack and slash/action role-playing game presented in a 3D perspective, with a rotatable isometric three-quarter top-down view.

At the beginning of the game, character stats are preset, with the player able to choose from three race/class combinations; a dwarven fighter, a human archer or an elven sorceress. The player can customize their character's stats through gaining experience points from defeating enemies. Every time the character increases in level, points are awarded corresponding to that level; i.e. if a character increases to level twelve, the player will gain twelve experience points to spend on the character's spells and feats. For every four levels which the character increases, the player is given one ability point to spend on one of the six core attributes (strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, charisma).

Each of the three characters have their own unique fighting style and their own specific set of spells and feats. Gameplay strategy is thus different for each character. As Kromlech is a fighter, his spells and feats tend to focus on increasing his brute strength and ability to resist damage, as well as granting him powerful abilities to aid in melee combat, such as the ability to swing his weapon in a circle or slam it into the ground to damage groups of nearby enemies. As Vahn relies on ranged attacks, his spells and feats tend to focus on increasing the power of his bow and granting him the ability to fire special types of arrows, such as exploding arrows, ice arrows or multiple arrows. As Adrianna is a sorceress, her spells and feats tend to focus on increasing the power of her magic and granting her numerous new spells, such as the ability to shoot ice or fire from her fingers, shoot a ball of lightning or call down meteors on her enemies.

Gameplay is linear, and each main quest must be completed in sequence before the story can proceed, although there are some optional side-quests, which do not have to be completed immediately. However, all side-quests must be completed within the act in which they are assigned. There are relatively few NPCs in the game, with whom only those who are part of a quest or side-quest may be interacted. Weapons, armor and items are only available for purchase from one location at a time, and become increasingly expensive and more powerful as the game progresses.

The game also features cooperative gameplay with another player. Both players share the same screen, and are thus limited in how far they can move away from one another. In co-op mode, the player who makes the kill gets 60% of the experience, and the other player gets 40%. Whichever player collects any gold drops gets 100% of the value, with the other player getting nothing.

The game contains four difficulty levels; "Easy", "Normal", "Hard" and "Extreme". Extreme can only be unlocked after the player has beaten "The Gauntlet", a special mini-dungeon unlocked once the player completes the game on any difficulty level. The Gauntlet can only be played with Drizzt Do'Urden. Extreme mode takes the form of a New Game Plus, and can only be played by importing a saved character from another game. Once the player has completed Extreme mode, Drizzt Do'Urden becomes available to use in the main game.

Plot

The game begins with Vahn, Adrianna and Kromlech arriving in Baldur's Gate, whereupon they are attacked by a group of thieves led by Karne. The thieves are about to kill the trio when they are interrupted by the city watch, who take the newcomers to the nearby Elfsong Tavern to recover. There, the bartender, Alyth Elendara, assists them in earning some money by giving them the job of clearing the tavern's cellar of rats. In the cellar, they discover the thieves are using the tavern's sewer entrance to infiltrate the city. When Elfsong Tavern employee Ethon, follows them into the sewers and disappears, they agree to Alyth's plea to find him. They rescue Ethon from the thieves, and he directs them to the nearby crypts, where one of the thieves was heading. There they encounter Fayed, a priest of Illmater, who requests their help in stopping the "Orb of the Undead", which has filled the crypts with zombies and skeletons. They succeed in destroying the orb and discover the thieves, collectively known as Xantam's Guild, are behind its placement. Ethon then introduces them to Jherek, a member of the Harpers, a group dedicated to protecting the realms from evil. Impressed with how they have handled themselves, he invites them to join the Harpers and destroy Xantham's Guild. They agree, and Jherek shows them the guild's entrance in the sewers.

After navigating a gauntlet of traps they face and kill Karne, and then advance to find the guild master, the beholder Xantam. He reveals the guild is only a small part of a much greater whole. They fight and kill him, and Jherek asks them to enter a portal which Xantam was guarding. The portal transports them to the Sunset Mountains, whereupon they head to a dwarf mining village, which is being oppressed by drow elves. They light a signal fire atop a nearby mountain, calling for aid from neighboring dwarven clans, and then enter the mines to rout the drow. After killing the drow priestess, they rescue a dwarven Harper, who tells them of another portal in the mountains. He also tells them that troops and monsters are planning to use the portals to move from the mountains into Baldur's Gate, attacking the city from within. The adventurers head to the portal, finding it guarded by the ice dragon Ciraxis. They slay him and pass through the portal into the Marsh of Chelimber.

There they are greeted by Sleyvas, one of the native lizardfolk. He tells them of the nearby "Onyx Tower", and of its inhabitant, Eldrith the Betrayer, who has sworn vengeance against Baldur's Gate. He then reveals that his kin, led by the lizard Sess'sth, are serving Eldrith. The trio fight through the marsh's hordes of lizardfolk, kill Sess'sth, and cripple the lizard army. Sleyvas then leads them to the Onyx Tower, which they can only enter by taking a detour through the Elemental Plane of Water. Once inside the tower, they see firsthand Eldrith's preparations for war and fight their way upwards, through legions of Eldrith's soldiers.

At the penultimate level of the tower they meet the ghost of Keledon, first captain of the company of the Westering Sun. He explains that Eldrith once served Baldur's Gate as its greatest general, fighting a crusade against the Black Horde. Upon successfully defending the city, she defied orders and led her army in pursuit of the retreating Horde. Trapping them in a ravine, they proved stronger than she had anticipated, and she sent word to the city for re-enforcements. The re-enforcements never came, and Eldrith's army was defeated, although she survived. Furious, she rallied her remaining soldiers to attack Baldur's Gate itself, but was again defeated. The city's soldiers then pursued her and her few remaining men to the Marshes of Chelimber where they were all killed. However, Eldrith's rage was such that she returned to life, bringing forth the Onyx Tower, which gave her access to the portals. Seeking revenge, she orchestrated the attacks against Baldur's Gate, and created a dark alliance between Xantam's guild, the drow, and Sess'sth's tribes.

Keleon explains that if the trio defeat Eldrith, it will mean the destruction of the Tower itself, as well as freeing the ghosts within. However, as they cannot leave the tower the way they entered, it will most likely lead to their own deaths. They find Eldrith alone on the roof of the Tower guarding another portal. She reiterates her plans for the destruction of Baldur's Gate. They fight and defeat her, and as she dies, she repents her actions and asks forgiveness. With the tower crumbling around them, the heroes enter the portal, not knowing where it leads.

As the Onyx Tower explodes from within, Sleyvas' true motives are revealed: he has manipulated and used the heroes to defeat Eldrith for his unidentified master. He tells his master that the heroes have died within the tower and Eldrith is no longer an obstacle. As such, they can now proceed with their plans. Meanwhile, the trio emerge in an unknown forest, and are immediately surrounded by dark creatures who swoop upon them.

Reception

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