Written by  :  Jeanne (76526)
Written on  :  Nov 17, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars

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Ooohh … now I remember this! An adventure gal revisits the RPG genre

The Good

Reading the other reviews here on Moby influenced me to pick this particular game as my first attempt to return to the RPG genre. So, this review of the single-player game is not biased by comparisons to other recent games in its class or genre since I haven’t played any of them … yet!

I haven’t played a “real” role playing game since my old DOS days. Back in the ‘80s, I enjoyed playing AD&Ds during adventure game “dry spells”, usually while waiting for Sierra’s next release. But during the past decade or so, my games of choice have been “adventure” games, thinking that I couldn’t hack it (pardon the pun!) in the role playing genre or that I’d be disappointed because of lack of story. Playing more recent “cross-over” titles like Outcast and Omikron made me braver to try “true” RPGs once more. That said, here’s what this adventure girl discovered …

Icewind Dale has some great features, including:

  • No 3D Video Accelerator required. A really good thing ‘cause I don’t have one.
  • Easy Save and Load. Ample room to type in Saved Game Descriptions; Quick Save and Load hotkeys; Auto Save at predesignated spots.
  • No Disk Swapping. 1 CD is for install only; the other for all gameplay.
  • Well-written, in-depth manual (which I read from cover to cover).
  • Character Creation is intuitive and comprehensive. 9 Races; 18 Classes; Character Import/Export; Attractive Picture choices (and Image Import option); Voice Choices and Biography scripts, etc.
  • Music – Turn up the volume – it’s absolutely wonderful!
  • Voices – The most important NPCs speak out loud. David Ogden Stiers (“Mash”) does a marvelous job as Narrator. Subtitles on or off option.
  • Sound Effects – footsteps, fire crackling, monster roars, bubbling brews
  • Graphics – Atmospheric; enhancements can be adjusted for your system.
  • Maps – self-mapping; An easy travel “World Map”
  • Descriptions of inventory items are very well written and complete. They even tell you what races or classes cannot use a particular piece of equipment.
  • Journal – Written as you play for easy reference.
  • Last but by all means not least – An Actual Story with an engaging plot, interesting conversations and numerous characters.

  • Relearning the Genre (it’s been a long, long time):
    It didn’t take me long to realize just how rusty I was. Two hours into the game and I was still setting up my party! I had forgotten everything about the races and classes, their special abilities as well as limitations. That finally done, I spent the next full day exploring the town of East Haven, where the game starts. (Yes – I sat here in front of this monitor glued to my computer, so engrossed I couldn’t move, all day and half into the night!) I found the overhead view reminiscent of the Ultima games from my past. I had fun poking my Thief into places he shouldn’t be, talking to the townsfolk and filling out the map. I was pleased to discover my Bard was not forgotten with specialized, high class musical objects and NPCs only he could understand. My characters equipped as best I could afford, it was time to see what they were made of.

    My first battle took me several hours and numerous reloads until victory was finally mine. (Whew! And those were little, bitsy goblins!) There are so many choices! Party member order and position, weapons and spell selection, enemy targeting and learning the iconology of the game screen. According to the manual, it’s a mix of both real-time and turn-based combat. Whatever it is, I liked it and got accustomed to the interface pretty quickly. My second conflicts took place inside winding caves full of fearsome giant Orcs. These combat sequences helped me perfect my strategies and I felt triumphant when I emerged from the caves victorious. My confidence high and my appetite sufficiently whetted, I was ready for whatever lie ahead. (Gulp!)

    Onward ho!
    There are so many great spells, scrolls, equipment and magical objects. Somehow or other I must figure out how to spend my money more wisely. At this rate, I’ll never be able to afford the Bardic Horn of Valhalla! Must find more gold … must increase levels … must fight and pilfer … must … must – er, um – I guess I’m hooked. Why have I stayed away so long?

    The Bad

    It would have been nice to have close-up views of NPCs when you meet them, at least the most important ones. When you meet a minor NPC, a member of the town for instance, the majority of them have the same, identical things to say as the previous person you talked to. This could have been varied for more interest and personality.

    While shopping, you can’t switch to and from a character’s inventory screen to see what he/she has already equipped. I found it cumbersome to exit the “buy/sell” screen and then to open the inventory to look at each character’s equipment. I don’t know if this is a common trait of other RPGs.

    The Bottom Line

    Now I remember … This is fun stuff! Since I am so out of practice, I’m sure this will take a long while to finish. Good! Why rush a good thing? The story is leading me along, unfolding a bit at a time, just the way I like it. I’m having a jolly good time combating the various (and numerous) evil meanies, collecting booty and raising my party’s experience levels. I’m glad I picked Icewind Dale for my return to the genre. RPGs .. this adventure girl is back!