Icewind Dale II

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Stworca
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Icewind Dale II

Postby Stworca » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:37 pm

Before reading, note that the reviewer values the RP part of non-sandbox RPG games the most. You may want to check the note first. Also note, that i finished ID2 around six times, and i like the game.

The Ten Towns are calling everyone capable of bearing arms, even mercenaries from such distant cities as Luskan. What could be threatening Dekapolis this time? What wicked creatures would want this hostile, frozen wasteland that is the Spine of The Earth? And above everything else : What is there to gain, for those brave, skilled or lucky enough to survive the Icewind Dale?

[SIZE="3"]Sure it's bad, but at least it's not Calimport![/size]


ID2 takes place in known to all world called Toril of Dungeons & Dragons system. To be more precise : in the north-western edges of continent called Faerun. Faerun is home to countless races of humanoids, animals and others, it's also a place where magic is common, and present on a daily basis. Even if you haven't played the first Icewind Dale, you are likely to know the world from tittles such as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, ToEE or some older ones, not to mention hundrets of books.

Your party are mercenaries from a city called Luskan that are hired to help with troubles in distant Targos. Targos seems to be in a desperate situation, constantly sieged by goblins. When you arrive, you will arrive to a city taken over by chaos and fear, but unlike other do-gooders, your motivation is gold. Mine would probably be the same.

[SIZE="3"]Look! Another bunch of weirdos[/size]


Whether you want to be an all human party, or a mix of aasimar, drow, dwarves & other races is for you to decide. Each race has its ups and downs, which you should study before making any decisions. Classes are another important point of character creation : You can pick from a rather large pool including, but not limited to : paladin, mage, sorcerer, druid, bard, rogue and more. Then you'll choose feats, like power strike -which allows you to hit harder, but less accurately - or dodge, place a few ranks in skills of your choosing - like sneaking, spellcraft or opening locks, and...
For more info about character creation, skills, attributes, races, classes and feats you'll have to read the manual, because there is truly alot of ground to cover. This section of the game has been well made, and it is definitely one of the strengths of ID2.

However, your characters or your party doesn't have to make any sense at all, as there are no roleplaying consequences whatsoever, regardless of what abominations you may wish to create. There are no restrictions or penalties from picking six good-hearted drows (it's a race of chaotic evil elves, who feel pure, burning hatred towards surface elves) or mix some bloodthirsty killers with rainbow-&-kittens-like companions. Your party never banters within itself, and not once will your heritage give you an upper hand, or stop you from achieving something normaly possible. Sure, you will sometimes hear a differend line, depending on your race, but if a band of half-orcs would attack a gnome party, they will also attack a half-orcs party.
The one, and only difference between good and bad aligned parties are spells that affect creatures of said alignment, and the only difference between races are favoured classes, attributes and an extra line or two in a dialogue or two. Oh, and for the most part if you go out of your way to perform an evil deed.. game over. The plot has been broken, you're stuck.
Since Icewind Dale is labeled as an RPG, this whole paragraph right here is a punch to the crotch.
[SIZE="3"]
Does this axe make me look fat?[/size]


Itemisation is an important part of the game. While you start the game with a bunch of sticks used as weapons and leather bags serving as armor - i wouldn;t hire mercenaries THAT poorly equipped! - you will quickly lay hands on something more worthy. Eventualy you will get some magical equipment, and by the time you finish the game, maybe even an artifact or two. Now, while your warriors will pass out from happiness once they get a flaming sword and plate armor with demon's engraved on them, your mages, druids, priests and co. will prefer some scrolls - and there are plenty of these aswell.
The items are quite balanced, and i don't think that there was a single moment in the game where i felt like i've had too powerfull or too bad equipment for the task at hand. There is enough equipment in the game to fill out a small hangar. More than once you'll be forced to leave some valuable weapon, in order to take even more valuable loot. There are plenty of merchants in game, and even if their sons are currently beign murdered, and their village pillaged, they will gladly buy some of your spare trinkets.

[SIZE="3"]El Pablo Discount Mercenaries - saving the world for a few copper pieces for over twenty years.[/size]


As mentioned before, your adventure starts at Targos, where you'll try to stop the goblin raids, but as history has taught us, every goblin raid on a small, isolated village in the middle of nowhere is a work of demonic mastermind that wants to take over the world. Thus after you solve one problem, another one will pop, and you will be asked to solve it too, then a problem will pop up two hundret miles away.. Luckily the player is a nice enough guy to not mind that you cannot decline, even though you have no reason to perform a task whatsoever. You'll turn from a mercenary that wants only gold, to a philantropist that wants to turn the world into a better place very fast, without knowing it, and without any valid reason.
Before you know it, your chaotic evil duergar berserker will receive tasks to solve marriage problems, find missing children and haul rocks, completing which is absolutely essential to advancing the plot. The end result will be as it is in all games of this kind, a climactic combat-filled finale.
This is not to say that Icewind Dale 2 has a poor plot, because the storyline is very, very good and i liked it, it's just the fact that whilst the programmers gave you freedom in creating characters, they didn't make sure that you had any motivation to continue. They also added good-aligned, boring, trivial tasks to the main quest, to completely kill replayability and cause roleplayers around the world to tremble and despair.. Here's the kicker.. Some of the unavoidable, boring, trivial quests are after the mid-point in the game! (long after you stop receiving any payments for your mercenary services) It's also the fact that even if you will have a choice at all in this game, and it happens.. maybe once in a chapter.. it will only affect how many enemies you will fight..

[SIZE="3"]And the 9th hell is called Wandering Village.[/size]


This part contains [color="Red"]spoilers[/color] but trust me when i say, that if i spoil it now it will be a much lesser disappointment than if you experienced it on your own in game.



After you fight your way through some epic encounters, hack, shiv and burn countless faersome enemies, save a city or two, rescue entire armies and change the landscape of the entire region.. You will come across a small village with four huts, and an old hag asking you to do her favours, in return she will show you the way through a forest. This part of the game is long after you've done your job, and i still wonder till this day what exactly was my party smoking at that point to continue.
The forest is rather small, even lore-wise, but for some reason you cannot go around it, or just find the way on your own (it only opens once you know where it is... ...mellon? no.) you cannot decline trivial quests of finding a lost piece of metal, investigating a death from two decades ago or wandering the forest in search of.. wait, didn't i just tell you that you need her to pass through the woods? I did. No, please, don't ask any more questions, i'm just as confussed as you are.

Even though my drow party would normaly cut a villagers limb off every minute the elder kept the path through the forest a secret, eventualy forcing her to spit it out, or we'd just burn the forest, or fly above it, or go home, i somehow managed to bite the bullet and.. What a coincidence! Demonic mastermind appears to tell me what his plan is, and then leaves.. Now that i saw the enemy, i have to chase him through the entire Faerun and kill him! Why? Because i can!
Elder! Now that i have rescued all the kittens that were stuck on the threes, please show me the passage through!

This is when i've uninstalled ID2 for the first time.

After the Elder told me how to pass the forest (by saying that the forest is evil), the forest knew that she has told me, and tried to kill me. Only after i've killed all the evil trees, the passage, a two-inch wall of green, has opened

This is when i've uninstalled ID2 for the second time.


Stay tuned for part 2!
[url="http://www.gamebanshee.com/forums/baldurs-gate-ii-shadows-of-amn-9/guide-to-tactical-mods-spoilers-116063.html#post1068546"]BG2 tactical mods guide[/url]
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Stworca
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Postby Stworca » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:37 pm

Part 2!



[SIZE="3"]An unwashed barbarian, nine o clock![/size]


The list of enemies is quite impressive, and the combat mechanics are very solid. Just like in previous ID and BG series you can pause the game at any moment and give orders. Each character has quite an arsenal of possible moves, except warriors who have only one. Magic leads when it comes to avaliable options. From level one, till level nine spells, be it mage, bard, cleric or druid ones. From a simple magic missile, through everyones favourite fireball or very, very nasty Suffocate spell, to meteor swarms & alike. From summoning to changing the skin to stone. From invisibility to healing. There are a lot of spells, and you should have at least a few spellcasters.

The enemies also have a huge arsenal of moves, and will not hesitate to overpower you, should you let them catch you off guard. AI presents itself well. Battles are however also pretty easy, and you shouldn't have any problems in beating the game. This is a bit weird, seign as the game is focused on combat. Thankfully for those that've found it too easy, there is "Heart of Fury" mode, which truly turns the tables around. While i cannot recommend playing on HoF blindly, your second playthrough, should you decide to play again, should be with it activated. This is the only reason i can think of to replay the game.

In short, ID2 is all about fighting. You will fight in Targos, you will fight in snowy mountains, you will fight in forests, you will fight in snowy mountains some more, you will fight above and underground. But unlike diablo, it's more than just right clicking over, and over again.

[SIZE="3"]Slap yourself very hard in the face, then leave.[/size]


After beating the game i thought about the main evil characters. The fact that what they do i actually agreed with (trust me, i did) and i would rather join them, as they never did me, or anyone i love, like or tolerate any harm, and that it would benefit me in every single way. In my, and my characters opinion their reasons were valid, and their methods fair. But you can not.
I wanted to turn back, having no reason to continue many, many times. But you can not.
I wanted to burn the wandering village. But you can not.
I wanted this, and that... But, alas, you can not.

With 100% linearity, no roleplaying, no replay value, only a few options of doing something in a differend way, scarce amount of poor side quests and never ending combat, this game would normaly receive the tittle of Hack & Slash game.

As an RPG i normaly would rate Icewind Dale 2 as a 2/10. I couldn't believe how much worse it was in every single way than Icewind Dale 1. And Baldurs Gate series, which were released even earlier, by the same company, couldn't even be compared to this pile of.. mud.

However the main plot itself is very original and well thought. The main NPC's are well made and have valid reasons behind their behaviour. There are many pretty locations (although many of them are copied from IWD1), and some are realy, realy nice even RP wise. Also the combat is very enjoyable, and the combat possibilities are many. Lastly the voice actors did alright, and never did the dialogue itself break a fourth wall.

This is why Icewind Dale 2 will receive a

[SIZE="4"]5[/size]/10
GB [SIZE="4"]2.5[/size]/5

[SIZE="4"][font="Impact"]
In unimaginable greatness. I am dragon, but in irrevocable shame. I'm also human.
[/font][/size]

It would be a 4, but a beign called "Sherincal" was one of the best NPC's i have seen in my life, and its concept, dialogue, appearance, voice acting and encounters lifted the note by an entire point. The dialogue with her is easily my favourite part of the game.
A truly lawful character, with everything that an NPC, any NPC should have to be complete. The dialogue with her was also when i realised that the plot is actualy pretty good.
"You should join us instead of fighting us", oh Sheri, i wish i could. I wish i could.

[SIZE="1"]Stworca[/size]
[url="http://www.gamebanshee.com/forums/baldurs-gate-ii-shadows-of-amn-9/guide-to-tactical-mods-spoilers-116063.html#post1068546"]BG2 tactical mods guide[/url]
What? You're still here? Go write a review![url="http://www.gamebanshee.com/forums/rpg-user-reviews-118/"]Here[/url]
Insane Ironman BG2 let's play! [url="http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=81201.msg2140894#msg2140894"]Here[/url]

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LastDanceSaloon
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Postby LastDanceSaloon » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:47 pm

I think 5/10 for Icewind Dale 2 is outrageously low and not at all deserving of such negativity.

It's a fully playable game with hardly any visible glitches (the only ones being that several feats don't actually work, worthy of reducing it's score, but not by huge amounts). It's a game with acres of gameplay all of which is populated by and set in vastly varied creatures and locations.

There's enough variety of character creations to enable huge numbers of replay adventures without much loss of appeal at all, the statistical permutations of which is mind-boggling.

I agree it lacks the magic of the first game but this is a product with very few flaws and therefore well worth the money spent, I see no reason why it shouldn't deserve a 7/10 minimum, anything below that just seems ridiculous.

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Scottg
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Postby Scottg » Tue Jan 10, 2012 7:27 pm

I actually think the 5/10 is a bit generous.. BUT I haven't played it in over a decade.

Also, hardly any glitches?

When I played it - it "glitched" so bad that I couldn't continue with the game, and this was after completing about 90% of it. :mad:

Maybe it's been sufficiently patched so it's not that way anymore?

I'd give BG1 a 5/10, and IWDII (assuming it has been sufficiently patched), a 4/10.


That's still a decent game IMO (provided it works), but it's really about comparing to *other* games (for each reviewer). The highest award I've ever given a game is Planescape Torment: 9/10.. even the games I've had the most fun with Thief I & II I wouldn't rate so high, because while I had more fun with them they were not as well "developed".

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Postby LastDanceSaloon » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:45 pm

I think you should give it another try Scottg. Maybe I'm lucky, but I've never had any noticeable game hindrances. All the glitches I encounter are background issues which do not hamper enjoyable progression.

The biggest flaw for me when comparing Icewind Dale 1 to Icewind Dale 2 is the changes made to Armour Class due to a change in the D&D ruleset used.

It's a poor system, badly implemented in the sequel in my opinion.

In Icewind Dale 1 Armour Class was complicated because an item with a plus to Armour Class reduced your Armour Class. Once you realised a negative Armour Class was really good, the more negative the better, then this issue abates very quickly. It was simple because if you found an item with an Armour Class bonus or used a spell with an Armour Class bonus then your Armour Class improved. Simples.

However...

For Icewind Dale 2 Armour Class is simplified in that a plus equals and increase to your Armour Class and Positive is better then negative but, unfortunately, it is just a non-stop parade of over complexity which doesn't even work properly.

In the sequel Armour Class is divided into countless sub-categories, of which the following is not an exhaustive list:

Base Armour Class
Armour Bonus
Shield Bonus
Dexterity Bonus
Deflection Bonus
Dodge Bonus
Random bonus

And trying to keep track of which of your six characters have what of each is overly time-consuming, overly complicated, overly irritating. And this is before you have decided which buff spells will best protect your team as each spell then effects different sub-categories.

On top of this, none of them stack (except the Random bonus?) and you find yourself reeling in pain as you discover a great piece of equipment that is no benefit to anyone as it's stats match that of another great piece of equipment which is worn elsewhere on the body - a classic example being the rings and amulets of protection: The Amulet has a Deflection Bonus of 1 but also a +1 to all saves, whereas the ring has a Deflection Bonus of 2 but no benefit to saves so, wearing both, as one is want to do with a lack of decent alternatives, one can't help but feel one is 'wasting' equipment slots, but then, which is better? Both are needed.

And heaven forbid you have Protection From Evil active while you try to equip your characters with their new finds...! Confusion central!

The mechanics are also glitched so that sometimes your screen will not even update you correctly of changes to your equipment. Your inventory will tell you that you have an Armour Class of 23, so you add an item which *should* increase it by 2, and yet nothing happens. You check for buff spells... nothing. So you start to check other armour items for clashes... nothing. Then, randomly, you take of a ring and put it back on and your Armour Class suddenly then jumps to 25. And this is not small isolated incidents, it's totally embedded in the complexity. Trying to remember which piece of equipment glitches your stats every time you juggle your inventory to try and get all the various sub-categories maximised is mind-exploding stuff.

It's these kind of glitches and over-complexities which prevent me from going nuts about the sequel and act as constant reminders to the simplistic brilliance of the original.

For a game that is so predominantly a tactical hack and slash (but with a lot more engageability and interest than Diablo) I find it incredible that the most crucial element to this style of game, the power of one's armour, is so tragically mangled beyond comprehension. And it's for this reason that I can't go much beyond a 7.

Luckily, knowledge of one's Armour Class is not imperative to immersion or gameplay and once you know the problem and give in to it, it's still a hugely fun romp through the Dales :)

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Postby stifler1111 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:24 pm

I like your thread =) full of information's and details...

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Postby Scottg » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:24 pm

Having just played almost all of it again, yup - 4/10 IMO.

The artwork is drab and utterly uninspiring. This is in part due to the setting for the game, but it doesn't really matter if you don't like it - and I didn't like it at all.

The "maps" for the most part try to "fill" every portion of a square, and while not uniform - have the *feel* of uniformity - which gives a lot of "deja vu" moments of :"say, haven't I done this before?". They are also fairly similar in size as well. Only a few maps were "large" (..the legion's fortress surrounding area is one of the better examples of something more interesting based on a larger map.) Most maps were small and repetitive (..EXTREMELY repetitive).

There is NO real companion interaction, and no companions to "hire-on".

Worse, there is no real alignment interaction in the game - your alignment doesn't mean squat EXCEPT for limiting use of some of the better weapons, and because of all of this alignment is static. What you make it at the start is what it always is.

No companion interaction, No alignment interaction = NO Role Playing Game.

There is some skill interaction, but it's mostly an afterthought. In fact the most obvious social skill "Diplomacy" will get you through almost everything. Thieving skills? Mostly a waste. Invisibility is always better than Hide and Move Silently. Knock is always better than lockpicking. Traps? Just take the damage (with a character that has more hit points) and rest or use some healing spells or potions. (..I don't think I ever came across anything that was life-threatening.) Setting Traps? Um, not this game. :rolleyes:

Plot and any semblance of reason for slogging through the game? Not. (..but Stworca has gone over that.)




Really what this game is all about is one big battle simulator. (..and perversely there is even a simulator within this simulator..)

At first I was thinking the "battle simulator" (the game itself) was pretty cool, because it was hard and the opponents seemed to stay within the Rule-set of D&D.

But the fact is that it's SO DAMN REPETITIVE, and L O N G.

(..same song second verse, same as the first.. same song 493rd verse, same as the first.)

At *best* you'll have some differences due to certain opponents, most particularly higher level spell casters as you scale in level. Most of it though is of the rinse and repeat variety. Melee opponents in particular (which compromises most of the battles in the game), are pretty much ONLY differentiated by their defensive capability (largely resistances to various damage-types). o_O (WTF?) ..Yeah, NOT their OFFENSIVE capability (beyond simply hitting for more damage due to higher strength). I don't even remember a single rogue in the game dishing-out large sneak attack damage against me. Even the multitude of opponent Priests seemed to be little more than mediocre spell-casters. Again, not once did a Priest use Turn Undead on my Undead Summons (that I'm aware of). Just PITIFUL.

Occasionally there will be a few plot devices that need to be dealt with before a particular battle commences - that's cool, but even those become tedious after awhile.

Then there is the absurd path-finding in this game. NOT poor path-finding in the sense of maneuvering a route of your characters *generally*, but rather 2 things related to battles:

1. Your characters seem to "plow right into" opponents when ever they are *near* opponents (moving toward that opponent but in a slightly different direction).. and then they do this sort of stunted "dance" with them while you are "clicking away" trying to get their dumb @asses moving in a different direction away from those opponents. Of course while they are doing this dance they are usually getting hit on (..not unlike a really sleazy night-club now that I think about it). :eek:

2. Opponents have this supernatural ability to track where your character(s) WILL be based on where you clicked for them to move to. o_O WTF? This absolutely KILLS tactical "escape" (unless you are near an area for you to "jump" to a prior "map" - which is pretty cheesy). This makes those ubiquitous idiotic canned-fights (..the ones that start as soon as you move to a new map and have poor dialog that goes on and on - only for the purpose of killing your lower duration "buffs"), almost impossible to avoid and "re-group" from. You pretty much survive it, or you don't.


Finally, there is the particular BIPOLAR effect of the spell Improved Invisibility. Near the end of the 1st chapter and through most of 3rd it makes the character using it a virtual GOD (..when you can get it depends on the class structure and the number of characters in your party). Almost nothing can see that character at those lower levels.

THEN (at some point in the game), as if by some magical effect, some characters can see you, and there is NO explanation for this. True Seeing? Nope, NOT implemented in the game (nor is Blindsight). See Invisibilty? Yes, sometimes that occurs - which is cool. What's not cool however is when they can see you when you have Non-detection "on" as well. Furthermore See Invisibility is only an Arcane spell that I'm aware of, and yet several NON-caster types seemed to have this unwavering ability to spot my Invisible AND Non-detection character(s). :mad:

Moreover, perform an any action other than movement and MOST opponents can all of a sudden see you (when they couldn't at lower levels - and this is the same type/level/class/etc. of opponent). Additionally, to get any Invisible action at all (at these higher levels) requires that you cast it while in their presence. i.e "poof - I'm gone" (..as opposed to you've never seen me before). This action references those times when you buff with Improved Invisibility before entering a new map (..and even one without a "canned-fight"). At lower levels you are INVISIBLE, at higher levels it's often like you didn't have the spell on at all.

So, while the game has several good battles, over time the rules seem to change in the favor of your opponents - and that inconsistency makes for a rather poor battle simulator.



All summed-up:

This game is ugly, incredibly tedious, lacks any real personality and any particular motivation to play - OTHER than having nicely difficult battles that are at least mostly consistent (or within the rule-set) for about half the game.

Recommendation: Avoid it, it's more like work than fun and after awhile that work becomes abusive. :(

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Postby LastDanceSaloon » Sun May 12, 2013 1:00 pm

Hmmm, you really don't like this game do you. As in, you try your best not to like it, lol.

Your recent playthrough was with a solo Mage/Thief, instead of the recommended party of six. And then you complain of lack of party interaction and lack of Hireable NPCs, lol. Well, this game doesn't force random stereotypes at you, it let's you use your 'imagination', lol. You can dump party members and hire new ones whenever you like, and they can be entirely your own design, lol.

Reputation doesn't matter much, no, except for Paladins, of course. But then the Icewind Dale games aren't really about that, they're about single, linear, voyages into the unknown - You know, like Jason and the Argonaughts and Clash of the Titans and all that. Real Classic Role Playing Games.

If you think RPGs are just about collecting Reputation points and having pointless filler arguments or love affairs with other party members, then, no, this game isn't for you.

If you like questing to chop off the head of the Gorgon to save the village, then, yes, this is the game for you.

And you complain that it's 'just' a battle simulator, with very little variety when it's most definitely not. This game has more puzzles and 'work it out' based activities than a whole host of other similar games. Again, it's quite Classical in it's approach in this regard.

I do agree that there are sections of the game which are much too long, but the value for money aspect in this is excellent.

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Postby Sykar » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:25 am

Not really in the mood to write a big counter post but I say it like this if IWD 2 deserves a 4/10 then no other cRPG deserves more than 6/10 at most. And if it's supposed to be even a 2/10 then no cRPG made so far deserves even a 4/10 period.
I am speechless about such bad reviews.

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Postby galraen » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:52 am

Well I haven't played the game, it's still in it's box after I got it free. I have no intention of playing it, or any other game crippled by third edition rules, so just one question.

Is it better/worse/equal than/to IWD 1?

If the answer is btter then the score should be >4/10

If it's equal then 4/10

If it's worse <4/10

IWD 1 was a tedious dungeon crawl with zero role playing involved, it should have been fairly easy for it's successor to improve on it, the atrocious rule set wouldn't have helped but just incorporating some role playing would have given it an edge.
[QUOTE=Darth Gavinius;1096098]Distrbution of games, is becoming a little like Democracy (all about money and control) - in the end choice is an illusion and you have to choose your lesser evil.

And everything is hidden in the fine print.[/QUOTE]

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Postby koz-ivan » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:08 am

LastDanceSaloon wrote:I think 5/10 for Icewind Dale 2 is outrageously low and not at all deserving of such negativity.

There's enough variety of character creations to enable huge numbers of replay adventures without much loss of appeal at all, the statistical permutations of which is mind-boggling.


Agree with this, IWD2 was a micromanaging dream of a game, yes plotwise the whole game is on rails, but the party dynamic...

you have complete developmental control over (up to) 6 characters, what classes they start with, what classes they mix in, how their stats develop, how their skills develop etc. this could lead towards some rather extreme min/max builds there was the potential for "abuse" there.

i found the level of developmental control to be alot of fun, and a welcome change to games like baulder's gate, or the first atari release of neverwinter nights. it is also fairly wide in scope, you start off with a pack of level 1 noobs, and can end around 20, 30 if you push into hof mode. so you do have plenty of time for a party to evolve / develop.

you lose some of the flexibility and interactions of BG2, i.e. where the party can be somewhat fluid and a cast of relatively equal powered npc's can be added dropped or swapped at will (or due to game circumstance not at will)

unless you plan on making character swap decisions the party you create is the one you are "stuck" with for the entire game though you could choose to develop your party into differing roles, usually for me, most of the development decisions were made well before the group stepped off the boat in targos. (though again, for me - that was the fun part) iwd2 seemed like more of a throwback to the ssi gold box games as far as party creation.

there were a few nitpicks along the way, the main issue that would impact how i developed my various teams was wizards & scrolls. i would run into several "pain points" where my wizards wouldn't have access to the scrolls to cast the spells i really wanted, nor was there a wide enough variety of spells to really make much of a case for generalist or specialized mages. sorcerers otoh had free access to spells and could often cast more efficiently. this marked a real change in thought process for myself, i'd until then vastly preferred wizards over sorcs in the dnd games (bg1/2 nwn 1/2)

other than mages / wizards every class could really shine as a "main pc" or primary focus of the group.

however the game was pretty forgiving on party construction, a group could be melee focused, spell focused or ranged focused and have success vs the variety of monsters and tactical environments. you still needed to fill the archtypes, ie some kind of tank to hold front lines, a healer, and damage delaers, likewise utility characters (diplomats, buffers, trap & lock guys, and a fair amount of woodslore / tracking) could really come in handy as well. but you did have a lot of flex in how you filled those roles, a tank could be a half orc warrior in full plate & packing steel, a deep gnome monk reliant on not getting hit, or even a mage, druid or cleric buffed to a high shine...

tactical environments, iwd2 did a great job at making some large scale encounters as well as making many pretty epic encounters, i still look back fondly on some of the situations - where you were engaging an entire mapboard of bad guys vs again bg2 where it was a lot more like you are fighting room to room. in all honesty i preferred the combats in iwd2 over games like bg1 or bg2 they seemed better scripted / implemented. battles like trying to save the bridge or the targos palisades were great fun, and rewarded a party that could fight with endurance as there wasn't as many rest opportunities.

finding a safe haven where the party could fully rest and restock wasn't as easy as in many other iterations of dnd on a computer, that added a certain realism & tension to encounters, and a sense of relief when finding a safeish area to make camp.

roleplay wise, this wasn't a strong game in that regard, i'd craft fairly elaborate backstories & motivations for my toons, but at the same time those motivations pretty much had to dovetail with the expected plot as the flexibility just wasn't there.

rating: for me BG2 was the gold standard and probably a 9 of 10, iwd2 wasn't as successful so a 7 of 10. the game engine was showing it's age when it was released and iwd2 did a fine job of maximizing some of it's potentials. the flexibility in party creation / development lended itself really well towards replay.
"all around you is tinder for the gods"