Isle Studios, go
to the web site
95/98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium II/350MHz or AMD K6(R)III/400MHz,
64MB RAM DirectX compliant video card, 4x CD-ROM drive, DirectX
8.0 or higher
I spend much of my time playing First Person Shooter
(FPS) and strategy games, I must admit that Role
Playing Games (RPGs) have always been my first love.
Icewind Dale II, along with several other recent
releases in the RPG market, revived this love. The
program proves to be one of those rare RPG sequels
that actually outdoes its predecessor. Both the game
play (control and action) and storyline are superb
and the real sense of epic-ness one receives while
playing is quite gratifying.
often have one great strength in that the sequels usually
build upon the storyline of the first. This is true in any
genre, but even more so on RPGs as storyline continuity is
of utmost importance. Icewind Dale II does not disappoint,
continuing the tales of the Ten Towns and the bands of heroes
that come to defend them in time of need.
before, the game play is smooth, control nearly flawless in
its simplicity despite the unfathomable number of spells (over
300) and nearly as many skills, feats and bonuses of all types.
In just picking up the game and playing, without any knowledge
of the Dungeons & Dragons basis of the game, one would
never know that almost every rule of game play is based upon
the newest edition of rules from that aging pen-and-paper
game. Immediately after installation, I already had the anxious
feeling that I would be rolling small onscreen dice every
time I wanted to take a step forward. But I have never been
more surprised by such smooth integration of systems like
To-Hit Rolls and Armor Classes. Perhaps the only mentionable
downfall of the game is the Infinity graphics engine. Infinity
was used in the original Baldur's gate in 1998, and is primarily
2D. The unavoidable fact is that the engine is ancient and
the graphics heavily reflect this. Despite four years of tweaking
Infinity and huge strides in video and CPU power, the game
still runs choppily during larger battles even on high-end
systems. The multitude of graphics settings and the ease of
their manipulation provides some buffer against this sort
of occurrence. This is not to say that the game is ugly -
far, far from it. The 2D landscapes are so beautiful, I often
found myself admiring them as I would a renaissance painting.
The snowscapes especially add a real sense of atmosphere and
depth to what would otherwise be a flat world. Although character
models are disparagingly smeary and undefined, as they get
larger the quality becomes better.
Dale II's bestiary is another area worthy of mention. Simply
put, it's enormous. The final areas of Icewind Dale II which
really shine are the character builds and customizability.
Again, it cannot be over-emphasized that the Dungeons &
Dragons presence here provides the basis for the entire game.
Nowhere is it shown more than in the character creation. For
those who are unfamiliar with D&D, or simply don't want
to take the several hours usually required to create an entire
party of characters, Black Isle Studios has generously included
five different pre-made parties to choose from. For those
who are a little more hard core about their RPG experience,
everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is here to choose from.
Every race, every style, every skill, every feat, every stat,
even the appearance of your character can be heavily modified.
Not only that, but once characters reach higher levels, they
can actually start to "multi-class", which basically
means that more skills and feats of other character classes
become available as your character evolves and changes. This,
combined with the millions of permutations of character developments
and combinations in parties, allows for nearly infinite variation
in game play.
may remain the same, but the game never will. Although, as
stated before, the D&D element of the game cannot be over-stressed,
the fact is that those unconcerned with it will never have
to think about it, but those who are interested can spend
hours creating their own individually tailored characters.
Trust me when I say that you eventually will end up doing
just that - the game is just that addictive, and certainly
expansive enough to accommodate such endeavors.
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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