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Icewind Dale By John "Award" Del Percio, August 6, 2000
Developer :Black Isle Studios
Publisher :Interplay
Release Date :Early July 2000
Demo Available : No
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

The Caravan is Coming

For those of you who played and enjoyed Baldur's Gate, be aware that the gameplay is extremely different, but not different enough to turn you away from it. I enjoyed the story and environment of BG a bit more, but as far as gameplay, I must say that I enjoy Icewind Dale even more than Baldur's Gate. For those of you who have played the AD&D Pen and Paper games, or the Gold Box games but never got around to the Black Isle games, what are you waiting for, it's never too late to start. You will love the game. For those coming from an Action RPG, it is hard to say what you will think of the game. If you love high speed action and beating things over the head without thinking first, then it is likely this game is not for you. If you always loved the more strategic, magical, level based, and statistical aspects of the ARPGs, or always wanted more of that, then you should definitely run out and grab IwD, and the whole BIS line, for that matter. There was nothing about this game that really disappointed me. It was as it should be, although a bit slow at the beginning. And with Baldur's Gate II right around the corner, it couldn't hurt to brush up on your AD&D skills to be ready for it. It can take a few months to get proficient at AD&D if you're completely new to it.


Personal Note

Graphics - Sound - Gameplay - Depth - Multiplayer  Reviewed by John Del Percio
95 %

Bioware's Infinity Engine, no matter its age never appears to age. With a spiffy new wooden interface, and a 32bit color pre-rendered world, nothing else looks so realistic. Character images can sometimes look a little difficult to identify, and there are certainly not enough positions of animation, resulting in choppy character animations at times. Also, some of the spells could use some work still. Aganazzars Scorcher shoots a jet of fire out. For some reason, it now has a greenish hue to it, as opposed to the pure orange back in BG. Other than a few things like that, there is nothing to complain about with the graphics.

96 %

Icewind Dale utilizes many of the same sounds that Baldur's Gate used. They still sound just as realistic and 3D as ever. In addition, some new sounds were added for monsters, spells, and the like, and they are of the same high quality. The important dialogues are now even completely spoken rather than just the first few words, although some of the non-essential characters don't even have their few words anymore, which brought a more lively atmosphere to the place, as well as the now-missing tavern music. Actually, most of the music is gone now, only playing for a few seconds when entering an important area, although its reasons were good, with so much combat, you'd be switching music all the time. The music that is there is spectacular though, and is fully orchestrated. It sounds like it is a movie.

98 %

The gameplay in Icewind Dale is a cross between Baldur's Gate and Diablo. Keeping to the exploration and highly complicated rules system of AD&D, but tossing in more action like Diablo and other ARPGs. If there is one place I'd have to be a bit more upset is the slow beginning, and the fact that the game gets insanely difficult towards the end. That was one of my biggest problems with Baldur's Gate, too. In BG it took me over 20 fireballs, plus the ranged attacks of my archers to take down the final boss and his minions. Icewind Dale, while a bit more sane, takes a similar approach with some of the bosses. Overall though there are many gameplay improvements, ranging from small tweaks such as sleeping, to major overhauls such as more creative quests rather than go and kill.

100 %

With the exception of Fallout, no other games have ever come anywhere even nearly as close in depth to AD&D games. A storyline that twists at every turn, taking every lead you predicted and destroying them, leaving you in complete curiosity as to what is really going on. There is nowhere that you are safe, no matter how much you think you are. Characters are as complicated as in the real world, magic is a life's work, morale, personal grudges, racial hatred between species, and fatigue are all present, and weapons have so many properties. It is amazing that it doesn't take much longer to make these games.

79 %

Multiplayer is not the shining point of a linear game like the AD&D games. If you're a hardcore fan of it, you'll have no problem with the multiplayer, but if you're a multiplayer fan in general, or are interested in seeing if multiplayer adds another facet to the game, rest assured that it doesn't. Cumbersome, and restrictive, multiplayer really doesn't even have much of a place in a really strong single player game like this, but is tossed in as a thrill to the most dedicated of Pen and Paper players who can now play with people other than those that can sit at their kitchen table with a pad of paper. A great feature for a fan, but not the best for an outsider. This in no way detracts from the overall value of the game, though, as it was never meant to be a clan fest game.

AD&D is still one of the coolest fictional universes ever created, and the definitive source for any reference into the way a fantasy realm should be. Especially Forgotten Realms. While I did not have the fortune of playing Planescape: Torment, I hear that there were a lot of similarities between IwD and Ps:T. I especially love the little touches from Black Isle, such as the cloth map of the Dale that comes with the game, and the nice long spiral bound manual. Honestly, though, with Baldur's Gate II coming out soon, I can feel the excitement building up already. This seems to be the year of the RPG with Icewind Dale, Diablo II, Baldur's Gate II, Arcanum, and Neverwinter Nights all coming out sometime this year. Even with all of these, Icewind Dale is now officially on my list of nominees for the GameVisions RPG of the year, and maybe even the Game of the Year. (We'll be awarding the titles at the close of the year, stay tuned!)

Overall Rating


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