Review by Last Avenger
"This could have been improved in so many ways..."
Alright, here's my new and improved review for Icewind Dale. It was the first AD&D game I have ever played, but I tell you, this could definitely been a better experience.
The graphics themselves were done quite nicely. The snow looks realistic, as do wooden slats, walkways, and all sorts of things. The people themselves are okay, but most of them have a template, with everyone belonging in one of these. I have no problem with this; I just thought I'd point it out.
So why the 9? Two main things. First of all, the animation tends to be a little overdone. When I fought some goblins, they would for some reason sway between attacks as if they were losing their balance or something. Also, the battles aren't animated realistically. Your characters don't look like they're fighting. For example, you're surrounded by a party of orcs. Your fighter reacts by staring idly at something, and will spend 90% of the time doing just that. Then, he'll find that he's being attacked, and so will strike with his sword, and then stare at nothing again. Also, they have this habit of basically ''mowing-through-the-enemies'' style in that when one monster is defeated, they turn to the next, exposing their naked backs to everyone else. In swordplay, that is supposed to be the number one way to get run through.
Spell animations are okay, but really not anything special. I've seen better before, and also the game has this irritating habit of slowing down when too many spells are being cast at once.
The other thing is that the environments aren't always immediately obvious. Around the box and website, they say they have dungeons such as volcanic caverns (with no lava or anything else to indicate it's volcanic,) elven ruins (with nothing particularly elven about them) and frozen glaciers (which are actually done very well.)
Enough about graphics, on to sound and such.
The voices in the game frankly, well, suck. You'll have characters that say things such as ''I'll wash me beard in your blood.'' Not bad, but what if the character is clean shaven? Or, I'll ask someone to move wherever, and she'll say ''No small task,'' when all I wanted was for her to move somewhere? Any complications in that? Not that I can see.
Also, the enemies have these very annoying voices. The goblins sound like badly tuned trumpets, and the lesser shadows' death screams are basically spaghetti slurping noises, amplified about thirty times, and the result is an extremely annoying sound. And then there are the usual grunts and groans, with some being more obnoxious than others (I can stand the orcs, but Cold Wights? No way.)
For some odd reason, there isn't much music in this game. In the dungeons, this could have helped to set the mood, and it was practically non-existent. The only places you hear them almost all the time is in Easthaven and Kuldahar, and the important people's houses; other than that, you don't hear much of anything (besides sound.) The music that is there, however, is good. I like the introduction theme.
Say what? A group of adventurers decide they want to do something with their hopeless lives, so they move up to some god-forsaken wasteland. No sooner than they sit down (actually stand up) in the tavern than some dope named Hrothgar will drop in and basically go on and on about the stupid village. He'll finally leave, and then you just go from there. It eventually turns into a save-the-world theme, just like EVERY SINGLE OTHER RPG OUT THERE!
Ah, so close, yet so far. I'll start with the positive side, then go onto the bad parts.
On one side, you can talk to people and learn more, and (rarely) might stumble upon a side quest. However, everyone else says the exact same unhelpful thing, over and over again, and are basically no help at all.
The dungeon design is also pretty good (look at the Area Map after completing most of the area and see what I mean.) The problem is that the rooms aren't very imaginative, with a few exception. Oh look! Another drab, stone room just like the previous fifty! What FUN!
The combat system is okay, but as said above, it doesn't look very realistic at all. You command your characters however you want, and can command them to do stuff while the game is paused (unlike Lords of the Realm II, which grated on my nerves.)
Unfortunately, clicking on every enemy gets tiresome. To correct this problem, the programmers compiled these AI scripts, which supposedly tell the character what to do.
Here's an example of the effectiveness of these. A group of skeletons surrounds my main fighter. They can't do anything serious, but my fighter doesn't get around to attacking for eight seconds. What does he do until then? You guessed it: stares into space! Or take the Ranged Attack fighter script. You'll constantly be wrestling with the character to command it what targets to hit, while the computer seemingly changes targets randomly and without apparent effect (other than decreasing effectiveness in battle.)
And then we have the stealth thief. The description says he hides in shadows first thing when combat arises. He takes this to the extreme and attempts to hide in shadows ALL THE TIME! Not only that, even when your percentage is 95%, he almost always fails to do it.
And of course who can forget the ''defensive cleric''? She will cast healing spells if someone loses 50% or more of their hit points. If this happens; run over and... Cure Light Wounds! What is this crap? Can't she manage anything besides a piddly 8 points when you're losing 30-40 at a time? And as soon as that's done, she goes running off somewhere, toward the enemy, and is then butchered by a snake elite wielding a bloody sword. Oh, but look! We can Cure Light Wounds on her! Who cares if it does nothing? Cure Light Wounds forever!
See how STUPID this AI is?
Of course, for the enemies, their archers will systematically eliminate your archers and spellcasters, while their side casts spells to aid their side (instead of Cure Light Wounds.) Meanwhile, their melee guys block the passage to the archers, delaying you. Why don't your guys do that? No idea...
Pathfinding in this game is horrid. Your characters can barely figure out how to walk somewhere, trying to go through a wall. Additionally, they'll stop short at a door, waiting for you to tell them to open it. Why can't they figure it out?
I'm running out of time, so I'll be brief.
The battles are too hard, with tougher enemies and superior AI and weaponry. Enough said.
REPLAY VALUE: 2/10
Who wants to go through this again? To get different items?
I'm being generous here, but just keep in mind that I'm a pessimist and typed this accordingly. Fare thee well.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/01, Updated 03/13/01
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