Review by Algus
"The Infinite Engine is tested and proven"
Before I begin I must say that I love the infinite engine and think that all the infinite engine games are incredible.
Yes, Icewind Dale 2 does use the infinite engine and I certainly hope it is not the last Bioware game to do so as the infinite engine is awesome.
This game is *not* Baldur's Gate. Once you understand that and stop comparing the two you will live a happier, healthier, and longer life.
The game is similar to IWD I and Heart of Winter in that you create a party of six characters and play through a hack-n-slash type game. The role-playing and NPC interaction of the Baldur's Gate games does NOT exist in Icewind Dale.
What can I say? The infinite engine is perfection. Not quite an RTS but an easy to use, easy to see interface makes the Forgotten Realms come alive. The interface has changed from IWD and BG II but you'll still recognize what you're doing easy enough.
IWD II uses the 3E rules and while I have my own feelings about 3E, I must say that the infinite engine more then makes up for their lack of logic. With the advent of 3E rules however, kits from BG II are basically useless and the profeciencies system has a complete overhaul.
However, as much as I missed kits, IWD II made up for it more then sufficiently with subraces for the various races *INCLUDING* drow and duergar *drool* and it also created numerous new specialized clerics. With the addition of new sound sets and portraits including the original IWD sound sets/portraits, players have many many more options for customization in IWD II
When I say don't compare this to BG II I mean it, but it is hard not to compare storylines. Simply put, the IWD stories have never been as strong as the BG franchise. The story is more of a structure between dungeons as opposed to BG II with the story being the driving force of the game. However, I for one enjoyed it, and for what IWD II is, the story seems sufficient, though not really above average.
You can't really play through IWD II as much as you could in previous infinite engines (i.e. good party/evil party) but you can customize to your heart's content and it will take awhile to go through all the different character types and that in and of itself would make for more then sufficient opportunity to play through multiple times.
Ehh.. as much as I love the infinite engine, I must admit the graphics are beginning to get dated and Bioware felt the need to strip 640x380 resolution from IWD II. Now I understand that most prefer 800x600 but I for one can't stand it, and it doesnt seem like it would have been a feature that hard to implement considering it does use the same engine as several older games.
I've always preferred the soundsets of IWD over BG and I think in-game dialogue sounds clearer in the IWD games as well. For one, there's actually GOOD dwarf/demi-human sound sets as opposed to BGII which only had really decent warrior sound sets for humans and a bunch of lame british accents.
This game is definately worth picking up. It plays so much better then Neverwinter Nights (which had a lousy interface) and is truly a triumph of the Infinite Engine.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/20/03, Updated 06/20/03
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