- Platform: Windows 95 / 98
- PEGI Rating: Suitable for 12 years and over. Not for sale to persons under age 12. By placing an order for this product, you declare that you are 12 years of age or over.
- Media: Video Game
Icewind Dale II
- Epic party-based Dungeons and Dragons adventure
- New playable races such as the sinister Dark Elf and the skull-smashing Half-Orc
- Auto-balancing game-play balances the conflict to match your skill level
- Real-time combat with the ability to pause at any moment to refine your strategy
- Improved multiplayer support for up to 6 players
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Icewind Dale II expands upon gameplay elements found in Icewind Dale offering players the ability to hone their combat skills and achieve even more powerful possessions, spells, and experience. Icewind Dale II hosts a large variety of new weapons, armour and magical items and features all the spells from Icewind Dale and its expansion pack. Additionally, Icewind Dale II includes over 50 new spells such as Executioner's Eyes and Aegis, bringing the total to over 300 spells.
A generation after the events in Icewind Dale, a grave new threat has arisen in the North; a threat that seeks to cut off the Ten-Towns from the rest of Faerun in a bitter power struggle. A vicious horde of goblins, orcs and bugbears has gathered beneath the mysterious banner of the Chimera and is attacking the port town of Targos.
The town of Bremen has fallen, goblin raiders ride the plains, and a stream of refugees are fleeing southwards to Bryn Shander and beyond. Fearing that they will be overrun, Targos has sent out a call for all able-bodied adventurers, soldiers and mercenaries to sail north to stand with the town's defenders against the encroaching horde, and it's up to the players' small band of adventurers to save Targos from destruction. Yet nothing is as it appears and as the shadow of the horde falls on Targos, the players find themselves drawn into an escalating conflict that plunges the region of Icewind Dale once again, into war.
Return to The Spine of the World, that famous mountain range of Icewind Dale II. Deep within Dungeons & Dragons' official world, The Forgotten Realms, you'll find party-based adventure par excellence. Icewind Dale II is a throwback to the earlier time when D&D simulation meant six party members, 2-D graphics and a heavy focus on story and on real-time strategy game tactics.
Icewind Dale II plays like Baldur's Gate with one major difference: you create and control your entire party, which leaves you free to experiment with the huge array of options D&D 3rd Edition makes possible. Halfling Paladins, Wizards with thieving skills, it's all possible because Black Isle dutifully added all the new skills, rules, options and feats given to D&D characters in the tabletop game.
The story line is long and epic and may be too focused for its own good. You can experiment with any character combination you want, but you can't really range far and wide, adventuring as you wish. The story concerns a goblin army threatening the human settlements far to the North and quickly begins to involve infernal implications as you learn the goblins' masters might not be of this prime material plane. The combat is fast, furious, constant and extremely challenging. One of the reasons Baldur's Gate II worked so well was that your Priest always had enough healing powers and Raise Dead spells handy. In Icewind Dale II you begin at first level, so for fully half the game you have to trudge homeward whenever somebody dies, which is frequently. The enemy appears in large numbers, usually with a spell-caster in tow, and just beyond one group of enemies is another one. It's relentless and strategically satisfying if more than a little frustrating too.
Fans of the earlier games who were perhaps a bit unsatisfied with the single-PC focus of Neverwinter Nights will delight in another chance to play party-based D&D. --Bob Andrews Amazon.com
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The path finder was no worse that that in Baldurs Gate, character occasionally getting lost - but there is an option to increase the accuracy of the path finding, but does slow the characters down.
I found the spells more varied and visually pleasing, just remember to keep your spell casters a safe distance from the battle.
There is far more visual display that in Baldurs Gate due to the re-designed GUI, but the characters are actually smaller. It is easy to miss items that a creature has dropped when killed, as the treasure symbol is very small. I think this game runs allot better than Baldurs Gate, as it is allot smoother and the graphics are very well designed. I would like to see a move from a map per area to a style used in Ultima though. The music could have been better, a bit too high pitched and not as atmospheric or moody as Baldurs Gate and the characters don't talk as much.
All in all the game is fun to play, challenging (you can make it easier or more difficult), and rewarding. It has nothing seriously wrong with it; so I've given this 5/5.
Icewind Dale II was released in 2002 and was the fifth and last game to use the Infinity Engine. Originally used for Baldur's Gate in 1998, the Infinity Engine had powered a whole series of classic roleplaying games and was arguably the last great 2D engine before most games switched to 3D technology. At the time of its release, Icewind Dale II was heavily criticised for using old tech, made even more apparent by it coming out just a month or so after BioWare's Neverwinter Nights, with it's all-singing, all-dancing 3D engine.
Played without regard for such concerns, Icewind Dale II emerges as an enjoyable, solid roleplaying game much in the vein of its predecessor. The Icewind Dale games are very much the 'brainless action movie' branch of the Infinity Engine tree, where combat is emphasised over roleplaying. There isn't anything too wrong with that, especially since Icewind Dale II also puts more emphasis into puzzle-solving, quest-resolving and occasional bursts of proper roleplaying. You still spend 80%+ of the game hacking enemies apart, but there's a little bit more story and character to proceedings this time around.
As with the previous game, you create a party of six adventurers from scratch. Balancing melee combat characters with ranged ones with magic users (and a rogue to help open all of those locked chests of loot) is key to completing the game effectively. Unlike the other Infinity Engine games, Icewind Dale II uses the Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition rules which gives your characters much greater choices of weapons (no more arbitrary restrictions by class), classes (no more arbitrary restrictions by race) and skills and feats, which improve your combat abilities.
You start the game in the town of Targos which is under goblin attack. After dispatching the attackers you find yourself running around town getting to know people and finding out more about what's going on. This being a game by Black Isle (which splintered apart shortly after this game's release, the remnants reforming as Obsidian and Troika), with such CRPG luminaries as Josh Sawyer and Chris Avellone working on it, the game features some amusing meta-commentary about the genre. One soldier recounts how he started his adventuring life by killing rats for ages because it was 'character-building', whilst running around town doing trivial odd-jobs for pitiful amounts of money. This was funny at the time, but is slightly tragic in 2014 given how many modern RPGs still insist on using the same structure.
The game is linear, with your team moving from objective to objective without as much ability to go off and do some exploring by yourself (although there a few optional side-quests). This makes sense in the context of the game - you are a mercenary party on a military commission to halt an invading army - and also given the time restrictions the game was made under, but it does feel a little constraining at times. The game is also pretty relentless and, in the midgame especially, becomes something of a grind. The environments are beautiful, ranging from palaces made of ice to spectacular underground caverns and windswept mountain passes filled with snow. However, too often there is little to do in these environments rather than bludgeon lots of things to death and search for loot. There are a few moments of satisfying roleplaying - doing a side-mission near the end of the game makes the final battle considerably easier, whilst you can completely skip a lengthy and lethal battle in a mind-flayer fortress by convincing their relentlessly logical leader that it's just safer to let you pass - but the focus is very much on fighting.
Fortunately the fighting is pretty good. As usual you can pause the game to issue orders and battles soon become a frenzied rush of arrows, swords swinging and spells flying past. As the game progresses enemies become more likely to use magic, so it becomes necessary for your party to use magic to buff your characters or summon small armies of monsters to act as cannon fodder. Unlike, say, the Dragon Age games, which have a seriously tiny spell selection (presumably for simplicity's sake), Icewind Dale II offers a large range of spells, weapons and combat options which can tend towards over-complexity, but also give the player a satisfying choice of tactics to pursue. Many seemingly-impossible battles can be won by simply changing tactics or even just the positioning of your characters: bottlenecking large enemy forces in narrow passages is a simple but often decisive tactic.
So the combat is good, the choices for character development are better than any previous Infinity Engine games and the story is moodily and effectively told through animated storybook cut-scenes. For its time, the 2D graphics are impressive (if inevitably a little pixellated on modern machines) and the music is splendid, though there isn't a whole lot of it. The game is pretty long (clocking in at well over 20 hours) so you get a lot of content for your money. The game gets grindy and repetitive at times, but it's worth persevering for the satisfyingly epic conclusion.
Icewind Dale II (****) is a worthy follow-up to Icewind Dale and a decent conclusion to the Infinity Engine era of roleplaying games. You can get the game now from GoG, where it has been optimised to run well on modern machines, or you can also get it as part of a triple-pack with the original Icewind Dale and its expansions (UK, USA).
First off, it's beautiful to look at. The icebound landscapes are dramatic and you really feel as though you're in the far north; there's a tangled forest taken over by unnatural forces which feels genuinely oppressive and eerie and the remote monastery set into a mountainside is truly a sight to behold. The new monsters have been exquisitely drawn and animated - you'll love the driders, for example - and Icewind Dale still has the best iron golems in the business.
The incorporation of the third edition D&D rules is a huge enhancement and they have been very well incorporated. Character creation is a delight and the constant improvement of your characters is a major motivator for playing the game. The incorporation of feats makes for great variability within the same character class. No longer is a fighter just a guy who whacks things with swords until they're dead; instead you can choose to create an elven finesse fighter who wields two swords and can hit a penny with an arrow from thirty yards, a half-orc bruiser who can dish out tremendous punishment with a two handed sword or a dwarven tank who can take everything the bad guys can throw at him and then repay it with interest. Balance is excellent: you can choose to play a drow character who appears to have enormous powers but who also has limitations which makes him or her no better or worse than a plain human.
There is lots of combat in Icewind Dale II and it is extremely challenging, particularly in the earlier stages when your characters are still quite weak. Enemy AI is fearsome: you can't just pick the bad guys off one at a time using the fog of war as cover; instead if you attack one creature, all his mates join in. Worse, they don't just attack from the front but go round and creep up on you from behind, targeting your weak sorceror who's been merrily tossing fireballs at the frontline bad guys. Worse still, once an enemy targets your weak sorceror, he won't let up and won't be distracted unless your other characters surround him. This is how you play, right? You kill the magic user before worrying about the guys with the spears. Despite all the fighting, there is nonetheless room for diplomacy and deceit. You can avoid many hard fights either through flattery, intimidation or downright lies and you get the same experience as you would have got had you put the enemies to the sword instead. In earlier games smarts and particularly looks were mere candy. People who played the games by numbers would set intelligence and charisma to 3 and everything else to 18. Well now, many dialog options depend on these characteristics (not to mention many skils and feats) and they are only available to you if you're a good looking guy or girl with a magnetic personality, a glib tongue and wits to match. Even better, dialog options depend on the class of character being spoken to. Your bard can discuss philosophy and history while you'll want to kick your paladin's backside when he graciously refuses a reward or gets you into a really tough fight because he just can't keep his views to himself.
One of the major criticisms of the original Icewind Dale was the plot which did have a tendency to go something like: "Are you the bad guy?" "No, but I can tell you who might be.". Now you're waging war against a sinister organisation which has forged alliances with all manner of malefactors and disaffected elements and you are forever plugging breaches and cutting off one tentacle only for another to appear elsewhere yet emerging victorious against overwhelming odds (as I said elsewhere, the difficulty level is high). You may not have a particular commitment to the welfare of the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale, but the bad guys sure do get under your skin so that you want to punish them (the rewards are attractive too). Interestingly, the main villains aren't villainous for villainy's sake but are human-demon crossbreeds, mistreated as children, who are now taking revenge against those who hurt them and those who have slighted and shunned them.
Icewind Dale II is set thirty years after the original game and events from that game have repurcussions in this one. If you played Icewind Dale your characters would have killed a priestess of Auril called Lysan. In Icewind Dale II her death means that the Aurilites are just one of the many enemy forces allied against you. I won't give away other cross references because coming across them is just of the game's many delights.
Humour, sparingly applied, is the icing on the cake. If you have fond memories of pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons and your characters carried iron rations, ten foot poles and fifty feet of rope, you'll find a lot to make you chuckle. If you played the original Baldur's Gate, there's a scene around a campfire which will make you laugh out loud.
Any faults? Not many. Your characters' pathfinding seems to have become dreadful again having been quite good in Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate II. I haven't found any major bugs but there are a couple of unimportant ones. Nothing else comes to mind.
Bioware seem to have given up on the Infinity Engine and have bet the company on going 3D. I don't know what's with the fetish for 3D because Neverwinter Nights is a rubbish game which looks terrible and runs like a dog. Icewind Dale II, on the other hand, looks gorgeous, is totally immersive and runs very nicely thank you on almost all systems. If Icewind Dale II is the last Infinity Engine game, I will be most sad. Anybody fancy starting a petition?
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