I picked up a couple of fantasy videogames over the weekend. They are Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 and Champions of Norrath.
It's back to Faerun once more...
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 has nothing to do with the PC game Shadows of Ahm, save for the common setting. While the PC game was a full-on RPG and strategy title, BG:DA2 is a hack-and-slash arcade-style action game very close to Diablo 2 and of course, the original Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.
In the first game, you picked one of three heroes: A human ranger, a dwarf fighter and an elf sorceress. After being victimized by some thieves, your character gets involved in the battle to stop a dark shadow of the past from endangering the realm. However, BGDA ended with a cliffhanger ending, and now in the sequel we get to see what happens next.
This time around however, players have five new characters to kill monsters with. There's a human barbarian, an elven necromancer (who is VERY similar to the Diablo 2 equivalent, down to the use of animated corpses to do battle for him), a dwarf warrior, a female human cleric and a dark elf monk who can kill with just her hands and feet. There's a new villain and a new plot afoot, and to foil it the heroes must wade past swarms of enemies before the quest is over.
As far as graphics go, the game looks at least as good as the previous game, though again the view places you a bit too far away to really appreciate the graphics. Still, this is a gorgeous game, with miles of dungeons to explore and various monsters to kill. As before, you can equip your hero with armor and weapons that show up on your onscreen avatar. As you level up, you can build up your character's feats- special abilities that range from spells to powerful battle moves. Like the first game of course, you'll spend most of your time running about, killing monsters, opening portals, finding keys, killing bosses... rinse, repeat. Not unexpected, not bad but it seems a bit too similar as before.
Champions of Norrath is also a dungeon crawler, and as far as I can tell it was also made by the same team that did BGDA. The controls and gameplay are almost identical, though of course CON is set in the Everquest universe, not in the Forgotten Realms. CON is best played as an online game, but thankfully (unlike the earlier Everquest Online) allows the game to be played by a single player, offline. This is good since I don't have broadband, nor do I want to pay any more for playing a game than the price for the CD.
CON looks similar to BGDA, but seems to have sharper, prettier graphics (and a closer-in view), and a bit more customization; you can choose from one of five classes, each of which lets you make either a male or female hero to your liking (you are given options to customize your character's skin color, hairstyle and hair color). As you move around, you can equip your hero with armor and items and build him/her to be a bad-ass monsterslayer.
As for the story, your hero is called to defend an elven city from invasion, and from there... stuff happens. Haven't gotten that far yet, but the game looks good and it's pretty fun.
Really though, both games are so similar, that unless you really want to play through a game twice, one or the other should suffice. Given a choice, I'd probably take Champions for the customization options, since it looks prettier, and because it seems more fresh and new... kind of.
Still, I'd love to see what happens next in Baldur's Gate, so it's pretty cool that I have them both. Aaah. We'll see if I can save the world in between overtime and drawing K.I.A. Hmmm...