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Reviewed: Icewind Dale
Author: Ben Steel       Date: December 2nd, 2000
Page: 2

After reading reviews of this game that criticized it as nothing but a dungeon crawl with an excellent interface and lots of play time, and, well, they're somewhat right. It is a dungeon crawl, and I do mean crawl. Some of the dungoens took me forever because of the tough enemies. I'd save my game, walk into a room, attempt to not get annihilated, and restore. This is probably partially due to me not really knowing how to play a D&D game, but eventually I got the hang of it (and some better weapons and spells) and the pace picked up a bit, but rest assured you'll be doing plenty of saving and restoring if you don't plan things right.

Planning is an important part of the game, especially since it's quasi-pseudo-wannabe-almost-but-not-quite-but-still-feels-like-it-is realtime gameplay. You walk into a battle and start slinging attacks and spells left and right. D&D itself is turn based though, allowing you to calculate every move, attack, etc. So with all this action happening onscreen and monsters attacking while your mage dies and a cleric heals one of your fighters who is attacking, how the hell do you get anything done at all without leaving the entire battle up to the party AI? The space bar, of course. A simple slap on it will pause the game immediately but still let you issue commands to your party. Without such a useful feature this game would suck because of the fast pace of the action during battles. The action can get pretty intense at times, even for an rpg, as battles are a veritable melee (well...on a small scale) most of the time. You've got fighters attacking and mages hiding or casting spells, etc. And when you're dinky little group of five adventurers is fending off about 20 enemies, it becomes quite the harrowing ordeal.

Blasto Cannon!
Look Out Doggy!
Watch Yourself Die... It's Purty!

Graphically the game is fairly well off. The only major issue with the graphics is the size. Everything's so tiny that it's easy to overlook items and details, and there's not much detail on the characters because of their size in relation to the environment. But even for tiny graphics, they're gorgeous. The envronments are very well drawn, and have such minute little details, which make for wonderful viewing, at the cost of ease of viewing and finding things. Due to the level of details crammed onto one single screen it makes it hard to pick out the things you can and can't interact with, pick up, etc. Thankfully things that can be interacted with highlight when you mouseover them, easing things greatly. Nitpicking aside, the graphics are well done, and nice little touches like 3d accelerated (opengl) fog make the game easy to like, but did cause glitches here and there, though none were anything that would cause me to even consider turning it off. The beauty contained in the game does draw you in when you're not so busy scouring the environs for weapons and money and enemies, and you truly get the feeling that you're stuck in some dank dungeon with blood smeared armor, carrying a sword twice as large as you are, wondering just what the hell that noise is around the corner.

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Added:  Saturday, December 02, 2000
Reviewer:  Ben Steel
Page: 2/4

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