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Review of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II – nostalgia in the closet

Originally released on PS2 in 2004, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 was a rather unexpected hack’n’slash, a follow-up to the first game released in 2001 where the PC license par excellence hit the console in a series that reinvented the formula. . Step out of the RPG to instead offer a collaboration-focused hack’n’slash where we traveled through two levels inspired by the lore of Baldur’s Gate.

cooperation in mind

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Identical in every way to the 2004 original, at least we can say that this Dark Alliance 2 remaster’s gameplay takes us back into familiar territory. Not really interested in any improvements or looking for a clearer interface, the title is content with a resolution update to better meet current standards and make its interface more readable. In addition, we find the gameplay of yesteryear with hack’n’slash where we have fun happily decapitating certain enemies through a fairly linear progression divided into semi-open levels. We always find the same fun, which was subsequently carried over into some kind of Diablo 3, with this very simplistic yet somewhat enjoyable approach to mass combat against often defenseless enemies. Unfortunately, and unlike other later hack’n’slash games, Dark Alliance 2 suffered from attack inaccuracies that made some situations a little frustrating, due to a controller-based attack system that is sometimes not easy to hit (loose, the game is not offers a blocking system) of a specific enemy when you are cornered. Without nullifying the fun of the game, this inaccuracy is evident eighteen years later, when the cooperative hack’n’slash genre, including on consoles, broke through and offered games that could be better. However, Dark Alliance 2 uses the Baldur’s Gate universe as a powerful argument.

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Especially since the adventure remains quite enjoyable to play together, unlike the single-player mode where you quickly get bored with a rather unnecessary story, far from amazing despite using the lore of Baldur’s Gate. The reason for this can be a rather outdated production, minimalistic dialogues that are difficult to engage, and choices that do not have much impact. The missions are taken from soulless NPCs, so we rather enjoy the famous Proust-Madeleine adventure together, where the sensations of the past compensate for the lack of interest in the game, which cannot be hidden. his age. This is all the more true in confrontations that suffer from impact issues and missions that often come down to doing the same thing. More than the intrinsic interest of the game, which has not changed since 2004, it is above all this very outdated control aspect, interface, visual aspect or structure of the game that tends to call into question the enjoyment of the game. last year. Nostalgia struggles to act.

Back to the past

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We are indeed facing a fairly simple remaster. The menus are the same, with the same illegibility, especially on gear that is worn or not, or the very archaic aspect of using quick skills with a joystick. The gameplay, meanwhile, hasn’t changed an inch, and the game’s graphics are pretty ugly. In line with the PS2 game, with a simple dithering followed by a resolution change, it’s hard to find the slightest charm. A bug with an art direction that only partially exploits the Baldur’s Gate universe, with some good passages, visually successful, drowning in the middle of many levels too classic for the genre to leave the game. later, at a time when we have all gone through a lot of similar games that brought more originality. We also advise Switch owners to play in handheld mode, as TV mode is pretty ugly.

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So we’re back to the nostalgia trade for good: can things go back the way they are? We recently tested the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie series which was suffering from the same problem. To bring back these old games without bringing anything special in terms of gameplay or visual rework, especially for games from the 128-bit era, which took quite a long time to 3D. If we don’t come across titles that have especially cared about their universe and their artistic direction, we’re all too quickly reminded of the limitations of time. Video games have come a long way since then, and these games, which weren’t really cult, have been slapped in the face by later games. And we’re not just talking about the visual aspect: Dark Alliance 2 could very well grow old despite its lack of visual inspiration if its gameplay stands the test of time. But its rigidity and lack of dynamism make the adventure often soporific, unless you find a collaborative partner who is driven by the same nostalgia as you.

Conclusion

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 was a great game in 2004. 18 years later, the title has been suffering for years with a remaster that looks more like a simple port. Blame it on the graphics, which have hardly changed, and the gameplay, which is identical to the original on the PlayStation 2, with its good sides, but also with the rigidity of the time. It’s not really important to its story, it remains a game that was fun at the time due to its co-op mode, which can still be today, but the title also shows that nostalgia is sometimes misplaced. Great in our memories, Dark Alliance 2 today is a rather average hack’n’slash, lacking originality and showing a certain laziness in its development, with repetitive environments and enemies that are never fun to fight.

Test by Hachim0n on Nintendo Switch from the version provided by the publisher.

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