Review by Ryan Sams

"An Instant Classic"

I have to admit, I’m not a real big fan of D&D. I attempted to play the pencil and paper game but it didn’t do much for me. But let me tell you, Icewind Dale 2 is a blast to play. With the additions that have been made since the first Icewind Dale, this title is nearly flawless.

Gameplay - 10

Game play in my opinion is the key factor in any game, whether it’s an RPG or not. And the gameplay Icewind Dale 2 is phenomenal. Like I stated earlier,Icewind Dale 2 is a blast to play. One of my favorite parts of the game was the dungeon crawling and battles. You essentially receive a set of objectives, head into the dungeon or whatever you visit, slaughter all of the enemies and collect items. Of course, there is more to the game than just that, but the dungeon crawling and fighting is one of the best parts. Yes, you basically go from dungeon/forest to town over and over again. But each new dungeon and forest is always new, and I never got tired of it. Interplay also threw in a few puzzles here and there just to keep the things fresh. Nothing really too hard for you gamers that fear puzzles. This game is more than just some run of the mill hack n’ slash. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into the fights that you partake in, and trust me there are a lot of battles. This isn’t some mediocre title that you just breeze through without any thought. You’ll have to plan and strategize, think of the weaknesses of you’re enemies and take advantage of them. The battle system is easy to understand. You click on the warriors you want to fight and send them rushing into battle. And at anytime you get overwhelmed controlling 6 characters (you’re not obligated to control 6 mind you), you can set up an A.I. Script (Artificial Intelligence) for any character and they will act on their own. I thought this was a great feature, considering I had 5 characters. And sometimes it was just hard to control all of them.Another option in Icewind Dale 2 is the pause function. I found this extremely useful in battle, whether it was to re-think my battle plan or go to the little boy’s room. The character generation process is fantastically detailed. You can customize their gender, race, class, alignment, ability, skills, appearance and name (of course). There are 7 races including the classic Human, Dwarf and Elf and 12 sub-races. Because of the 3rd edition rules they Interplay has added three new classes; the Monk, the Sorcerer, and Barbarian. Making the total of 11 classes. There’s a huge list of spells.There’s over 300 spells in Icewind Dale 2; this may be a bit much considering some of them are almost the same. But at least there’s a variety of them. You know they say “Variety is the spice of life”. The spell menu is a bit hard to understand at first, but it’s easy to catch on. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find out how great it is. The equipment screen was equally confusing in the beginning. But I caught on in a matter of minutes. I sometimes found the movement of your characters frustrating. Here’s an example. I send my characters to a place on the map and two of them decide to take the longest route to that point while the others take the short way. What’s up with that?Another thing I found annoying was when I clicked on the door for my characters to go inside they would just walk around the door, not even entering the building. But besides these minor flaws, the gameplay is the strongest part of the game.

Music / Sound - 9

I found that the orchestral pieces of the musical score were amazing. Whoever composed the music (I think it was Inon Zur) should be given a great big pat on the back. But I there was something that really bugged me (and the other million people who bought this game). The musical pieces were way to short, but I think I found a reason for it. I’m guessing the music is just like an introduction to the area. But I still wish that the music was longer. Interplay also added a few new voices to the voice list, which I’m very happy about, but I still wish there was more. The realistic sounds of swords clanking and the bloodcurdling screams of your slain enemies make up for the shortage of male and female voices. I also liked some of the sounds effects of the spells being cast. So overall the music is pretty solid.

Graphics - 7

I think that graphics don’t make the game.But it’s nice not wanting to grab the nearest pointy object and repeatedly poke out your retinas with it.. Luckily the graphics in Icewind Dale 2 are good enough for me. So put away the pointy objects, you won’t need them. The Infinity engine’s graphics definitely show there age, but that doesn’t mean that there horrible, it’s just took me some time to adjust to its graphics. I also love the camera angle used for the game; the isometric point of view is awesome. Its backgrounds are beautiful and the overall environments are amazing. The spell animations are great and flow perfectly. I noticed that some of the cut scenes are a bit choppy, but thats just a small falw.So in summary, the graphics in Icewind Dale 2 are good enough for me.

Story - 8

The story is simplistic to the core. A town named Targos is under attack by an army of goblins. They call help from Neverwinter and Tuskan. Neverwinter plan to send troops. Your characters are hired swords from Tuskan and are sent to Targos. After the defeating with the goblin army your characters get caught up in the struggle of the Ten-Towns. Simple no? As simple as it may be that doesn’t mean this isn’t novel-caliber writing. The story in my opinion is very well written.The overall story itself is very linear, going from dungeon to town and repeating the process, and not giving you any options really to explore the whole world at one time. But at least the story isn’t all over the place so you can’t understand it (i.e. Final Fantasy Tactics…worst story ever). Sometimes I didn’t understand where the story was going, but it cleared up quickly. So, the story is clear, easy to understand and well written.

Replay Value - 8

There’s no doubt in my mind that I will replay Icewind Dale 2 again, and you will too. The average gamer will probably end the game with their characters at level 20 and almost no side quests completed (There are a lot of side quests). You probably won’t play it again for the story line, but to play it to level up your characters to the max and find all the weapons, armor and items.I guarantee you’ll be playing this game for a long time. The Heart of Fury mode also adds a lot to the replay value. It basically boosts up the difficulty to the highest level. I recommend the Heart of Fury mode to players that have beaten this game at least once. The replay value on this game is great, this aught to last You ‘till another Forgotten Realms game is released.

Overall - 9

Icewind Dale 2 is and instant classic, and is easily one of the best Rpg’s for PC ever made. This is at my top list of my favorite Rpg’s and will most likely make it to yours. This game has the staying power to bump elbows with the Boulders series and even Diablo. And no one that haves a PC should miss out on this game.So in summery; whether you’re a hardcore D&D fan or not, go out, buy this game, and play until you develop carpal tunnel. I did

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/14/02, Updated 11/14/02

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