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Reviewed: Icewind Dale
Author: Ben Steel       Date: December 2nd, 2000
Page: 3

The nice graphics lead me to another excellent point of this game - the sound is amazing. The clashing of the swords, the sound of your party's feet as snow crunches underfoot, the dying scream of a ghost you just waxed with your BigAss Sword TM really make it fun for your ears. The music is very fitting, and fits every mood perfectly. From the calm instrumentals of the towns to the dark and eerie pounding of the dungeons, it never gets in the way of things. You can sort of feel the game's code at work when the music clicks on during a battle though, or starts and stops when entering places. This too is a very minor complaint, but it always bothered me simply because the environments are so rich in this game that just shutting off the music sometimes would break apart the level of absorbtion into the game. Again, though, this is just a minor complaint, and overall the music and sounds are near flawless most of the time.


Gameplay bounces around, but remains cohesive and fun. The story is a bit tricky, especially if you're not a huge D&D buff, but it's still workable, and anyone should be able to follow it since things do get explained well enough. It can be tedious at times doing menial things, managing your inventory, dropping items, buying and selling armor, etc, but these are minor gripes from someone raised on games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, where item management is cake. The interface is good for the most part, and easy to follow, but gets in the way during item management and shopping. Spell management is confusing as well. I'd get spells and not know whether they're cleric, mage, or druid spells, and wonder why specific characters couldn't learn them, but eventually I got the hang of it with some help from the guys over at RTFM. In general the game was just plain fun. I'd load up my characters for battle and charge them in, hacking and slashing away, grinning with joy as monster after monster fell under the onslaught. I'd wail as characters of mine died and rush them to town to be resurrected. I'd sneak up on an enemy and send 5 magic missiles into his back before he could turn around. It really got me going and I couldn't stop playing it at times.

Huge Boom
Asteroid Clutter
Come to Papa

Multiplayer? Oh yeah. I didn't really test it, mainly because none of my friends have the game and/or the time to play multiplayer. They all like Quake 3 and Diablo II. Those bastards. There's really not much to tell, though, it's basically like single player except the other members of your party are controlled by real people instead of AI. Which would be really nice since the game AI has annoying pathnoding problems and I got really tired of scrolling the map to find some loser character that got stuck trying to walk through a wall or off a ledge. I almost wish the game would let characters walk off ledges, as I'd get no end to the amusement to be had from bad pathnodes causing characters to plummet to their doom, hopefully in comic and amusing ways. Then again, if this was a feature that couldn't be disabled my entire party would die in .5 seconds. In case you're wondering, yes the game has some pathnoding issues, and setting a point across the map for your party to traverse to takes a while since there's always someone who gets lost. Literally, you'll set a point somewhere and 4 party members will take off in one direction, while James Dean the Mage decides he'd rather go the COMPLETELY opposite direction. This makes no sense whatsoever to me. South was good enough for the rest of the party, so why not him? It's a pain due to the way the game navigates. You have to unselect your entire party and hunt just him (or her) down while they're moving, click on them, and tell them to go to where the rest of the party is going, hoping they'll obey you this time. Sometimes they don't even do that and you have to click 10 feet in front of them and guide them by the hand until they catch up, wasting time and patience both.

Battle AI isn't so half-assed though. Your characters don't really do much during battle without you, and the enemies are pretty drone like, simply attacking and healing occasionally, but there's the odd nice quirk here and there. Once an enemy began to follow me and I turned my party and sent them full force on him and mr skeleton quickly turned tail and retreated with much haste. Frankly that's good enough for me. The last thing I need is an overabundance of AI screwing things up. That was one problem I had with Vampire: Redemption. Characters would do the most inane things during battle and it was too late to cancel them, and you were winning so you don't want to restore just to get back those 2 spells, etc. I'd rather have the characters fight what I tell them to, then find a nearby target when their first one dies, and keep doing that until I issue them another command. The last thing I want is wasted spells and ammo. Enemy AI gets the job done, and acts pretty much I'd expect another person to act most of the time, and rarely did it do anything that didn't make sense.

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Added:  Saturday, December 02, 2000
Reviewer:  Ben Steel
Page: 3/4

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