Icewind Dale (PC) review
"I loved the RPG games made by Black Isle. "
I loved the RPG games made by Black Isle.
First, they unleashed 'Fallout 2'. Best RPG ever, if you ask me. I specially liked the fact that EVERY puzzle or quest in it could be solved in more than one way.
Then they made 'Baldur's Gate'. It pretty much made AD&D get reborn in computers. I don't think it was as good as Fallout 2 puzzle-wise (or quest-wise), but it was a great game nonetheless and the game's engine was excellent.
Mixing these two together, Black Isle gave us 'Planescape: Torment'. It was built around the engine from Baldur's Gate, yet once again the many puzzles had multiple possible solutions. And to top it off, it had the greatest storyline I have ever seen on a computer game.
And then, as a sort of 'teaser' for 'Baldur's Gate 2' (which turned out to be also a great game), they gave us 'Icewind Dale'.
What, then, to say about 'Icewind Dale'?!
It was supposed to be a 'Combat-Centered' RPG based off the Baldur's Gate Engine and inner workings. It is an acceptable premise, but not one that I would expect from Black Isle.
They made Fallout 2! They made 'Torment'! They obviously had a knack for making games with deep storylines and immersive gameplay! Why then ignore these factors to make a combat-centered game?!
The storyline on Icewind Dale goes somewhat like this: your party of (up to) 6 adventurers (which you must develop yourself die roll by die roll, from scratch) go to a fishing village in the Icewind Dale that is mounting a caravan to help save another village that is under attack. Of course, before this caravan can start marching, the 6 adventurers have to delve into a cave full of monsters to retrieve the vital thingamajig the caravan needs.
Then, on the way to Kuldahar (the aforementioned village in peril), an avalanche kills off everyone in the caravan... except 6 lucky guys. Guess who they are?!
Upon arriving at the troubled village, the adventures find out they must seek the source of evil in the depths of some murky catacombs. They go there, find lots of undead that must be destroyed, get loads of magical booty from previous parties that traveled there, and eventually meet at the very end of the catacombs the big 'don Capo' who runs the place.
Then, surprise, surprise! They learn that this fellow is not exactly the one they have to dispatch. Actually they have to delve into ANOTHER dungeon full of MORE monsters where, as you can probably guess, some evil dude lurks in the very last corner of that place (the one only reachable after you kill every single other evil creature in the joint).
And then, once this evil dude is also taken care of, the adventurers learn they actually have to visit that other ADDITIONAL dungeon full of beasties where in the very end... well, you get the point!
Icewind Dale's storyline is, of course, a little more elaborate than that, but it does not mask well the fact that your 6 adventures will spend most of their time exploring murky dungeons full of monsters just to find at it's very end whatever crude item that will point them in the direction of the NEXT dungeon.
But then again, this is supposed to be a BATTLE-CENTERED game, right?! So, are the battles any good?
They are... in theory. The bestiary of foes you will face is vast and the many magical trinkets you'll find certainly will see themselves put to good use as you pulverize gruesome foe after gruesome foe. Unfortunately for the battle aspect of the game, though, any intelligent gamer will find out that the best way to dispatch monsters is the simple 'divide and conquer' method.
To use this method, basically send off one of your characters to the front of the party to lure ONE enemy to attack him/her. The foe will then proceed to fight your character and walk towards him/her. Whilst the monster is on the march, bring your 'bait' back together with the rest of the party. Then kill swiftly the foolish monster that was lured into the trap. Then, repeat the process with the 12 other monsters nearby.
No, not once will the monsters in this game start worrying that their friends are going away to fight something or someone and soon thereafter are heard emitting painful yelps of death. They never figure they should mayhap investigate these incidents banded together.
The game has excellent credentials and venerable ancestors. The game engine is also excellent and offers many ways for the players to customize his party. However, once you start diving and conquering this game, it quickly will lose it's appeal. If you are like me, you'll just finish playing it so you may claim to have mastered yet another Black Isle game. Then again, the ending sequence for this game was actually pretty nice!
Community review by zanzard (March 21, 2008)
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