I've pretty much had it with Gabriel's Goddamn, patchy little beard. For one thing, it's not a beard. It's not uniform in any way. He looks like his prepubescent evil twin. This isn't some comic shit I'm talking about, I'm talking about this weird almost hair all over his real chin in the real world.
Moving on from Gabriel's sparse, almost theoretical hairs, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II is marvelous. I really don't know what I was afraid of. The graphics aren't quite as amazing as they were when the original game hit, but they're more than serviceable, and certainly when a goblin falls over you get the point.
The game also starts at the moment the last game left off, something I applaud, and you are given your pick of the new character classes. Human Barbarian and Human Cleric, while not available in the first game, they're also not terribly exotic - they're the fantasy equivalent of wheat toast. After that, they do some great class/race pairings that I just really appreciate. A Drow Monk? A Dwarven Rogue? A Moon Elf Necromancer? They're choices that are perfectly satisfactory as game avatars, even if you have no affection for D&D as a system. For the proponent of that system, however, they're fun concepts that satisfy the "cool character" requirements even while tipping their hat to the hardcore.
As for gameplay, I hope it won't shock you but you're looking at about ten hours of hitting things. That's the long and the short of it. For my part, they've really done it right. You have good ranged options, cool melee stuff, "dual wielding," and ability upgrades called "feats" which emulate the spirit of actual D&D canon if not always the letter. There's also the bonus feats earned by satisfying certain quests, in addition to an item construction workshop. Throw in two bonus characters upon completion, and between that, the three difficulty levels, and reasonable but not ponderous game length there's some replay value there. It's also cooperative, a fact that could grind the rough edge off (almost) any game.
The pathing on the Necromancer's little skeleton pal is sort of disappointing, in fact, let's call it garbage. He's a skeleton, so if he can't keep up with us it's not something I hold against him personally - he doesn't really have any musculature. But as our undead thrall, he's technically an employee, and we do prize punctuality in our automatons.
That's the only bad thing I can think of.
So, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, it's out for PS2 and Xbox. It's a lot of fun, but there's no good reason to play it solo - get somebody over there, put this son of a bitch in the tray and take it seriously.
i thought you'd be there holding daisies