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Platform : PC

Developer : Black Isle

Publisher : Interplay

Players : 1

Format : 2 CDs

 

System Req. : Pentium or equiv. 233mhz, 64MB RAM, Win9x.

 

Reviewer's Machine : AMD Athlon 1.33ghz, 384MB RAM, Elsa GeForce3, Win9x.

 

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Intro
Icewind Dale is an RPG from Interplay based on the Forgotten Realms universe of Dungeons and Dragons. It is similar to Baldur's Gate, but it is not a sequel or prequel. The game is played using the D&D Rules meaning that its not just hack and slash, there are rules to make fighting a bit more challenging. There are a wealth of monsters to kill and quite a bit of spells to cast.

Story
The story begins with a group of adventurers, which happens to be your group. This group is not predetermined by the game, you make up your own group. Unlike in Baldur's Gate, no characters in this game join you, they are with you in the beginning if you create them or not. Your group is in a place known as the Spine Of The World mountains in the Icewind Dale region. The area has been plagued with monsters that claim that they have been called there from a mysterious being. The area is in turmoil because the cities cannot get their supplies because the caravans are harassed by monsters. A man named Hrothgar in the little "town" of Easthaven decides to take you to his expedition to oversee what is the cause of all this chaos. While in your travels, an avalanche crashes on your expedition. Your group survives, but Hrothgar did not make it. Your group then goes to the town of Kuldahar where a man named Arundel tells your group to find the cause of this chaos and put an end to it. Your group then goes out to several areas only to find out that this "evil" is not in the places they expected it to be.

Gameplay
The game plays almost like any RPG. You travel and fight monsters. The D&D Rules of course makes the fighting harder. The battles are held in real time, but you can pause the game to enter commands for your characters. There are several factors to consider before your weapon actually hits the target. Things such as THAC0 and Armor Class and weapon damage. I can't exactly explain the D&D rules system, only the manual explains it fully. There are Level Up Restrictions in the game also, depending on your class, you can only level up to a certain level. You can control a maximum of six characters, all created by you. Leveling Up is done by killing monsters. Leveling Up is harder when you have more characters because the experience you get is split among all members, meaning that if you have 6 characters and you get 1000XP, each person gets about 166XP as opposed to 1 person getting all 1000 if you only carry one character. Of course having 6 people has its advantages, for example, you can school one monster by having all 6 characters beat on him. Spells are learned by leveling up. There is no Mana Points. Spells are cast by memorizing the spell. A character only has a limited amount of space to learn spells, so learn only the ones you like, so you can't learn ALL the spells.

Graphics and Sound
The game uses the Infinity Engine, the same engine from Bioware that is used in Baldur's Gate. Icewind Dale has a limited support for OpenGL and 3Dfx Glide, but they don't make a big difference. The sound is pretty much top of the line. The spells sounds and the character speech is amazing. This game has less sounds, speech, and movies than Baldur's Gate and that's why it only has 2 CDs. The game's sound effects are even better with Environmental Audio (EAX).

Features:
- Over 150 monsters to battle.
- Higher character advancement than Baldur's Gate
- More spells (Mage Spells actually go up to LV.9 Now) And Improved Spell Effects (Cone Of Cold is actually useful now)
- Much more combat than Baldur's Gate
- Native OpenGL and 3Dfx Glide support