Icewind Dale II

Icewind Dale II
Icewind Dale II Cover
Platforms Windows
Genre Goblin grinding RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 10
Keep Playing? No
Buy from Amazon

Let's start with a shocker: I've only ever played one Forgotten Realms videogame, and that first happened in 2012, the year of the dragon, the year of our collective undoing. That's right, no experience with Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights whatsoever. Our paths just never crossed. However, the game that does get the glory is Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, and it's fairly bland and forgettable. Since high school, I have read what some might consider maybe too many Drizzt Do'Urden books by R.A. Salvatore and am familiar with a couple of other works based around the shared universe, which I do enjoy.

So, when Good Old Games, a website which focuses mainly on selling old PC games, ran a “buy one Dungeons & Dragons game, get The Temple of Elemental Evil for free” I took a chance on Icewind Dale II to see what I had missed out on. Hopefully it's as exciting as those books I ate up one after the other.

Minute by Minute

00 – Our adventure in Icewind Dale II begins in true storybook fashion, with a woman narrating a legend of old as we flip through the faded pages of an ancient tome. She mentions many names I can't comprehend and talks about the time when goblin warbands, some fantasy-named place. Gah. I don't instantly recognize it. Honestly, it's not the most interesting start for someone new to the series. However, the water-colored artwork used here is gorgeous.

03 – Okay, intro movie is over, and we're now at the start screen. There's an option for multiplayer, which is surprising, but I just choose to begin a new game. Next choice involves picking my party of adventurers myself or going with a predetermined group. Let's see who I can craft up...

04 – Forget that idea. That process was too overwhelming. You literally decide every single thing about your party, which is five or six people. If I was serious enough, that could take up this entire first hour review. Instead, I went with a predetermined party: the Annals of Halgren. They are a mixed bag of rogues, wizards, and warriors. Okay, prologue time, which sets up the game in that a bunch of ships have arrived at the port town of Targos, where mercenaries often gather. Unfortunately, goblins have attacked.

09 – I have not been fighting goblins these last five minutes, but have instead been chatting with a man named Hedron Kerdos about Targos. I think he's the captain of The Wicked Wench, the ship that sailed the Annals of Halgren over. What can I say? Dialogue trees—albeit not terribly deep ones—are a weakness of mine. I also learned a bit about the Salty Dog Tavern and Ulbrec Dinnsmore. Yeah, we're in a fantasy realm for certain.

10 – Okay, now in control entire party? Is that right? Oh, I can select whoever I want and move them around or move my group as a whole unit. Gotta dust off my RTS skills. And at any point, I can view all my party members' stats. There's a plethora of things to click on, and having no manual at my side or in-game guide, I'm kind of scared to mess it all up.

Icewind Dale 2 Character Generation

11 – My adventuring troop has now stepped off the dock, but is immediately stopped by a soldier named Reig Redwaters. He demands we identify ourselves. He tells us a little more about the goblin attacks, as well as his hurt friend. I also talk our way into some free armor.

13 – On a quest now to find a man named Magdar who will have some healing items for the wounded soldier. Don't really know how to access the map—if there even is one—so my plan is to just explore the whole town and hopefully run into him at some point. Coincidences are a dime a dozen during dire times.

14 – Looting weapons and armor off the ground. None of it is spectacular, but freebies are freebies.

15 – Went inside a home and discovered goblins. Clicked on them, and my entire party surrounded them, attacking in unison. The goblins went down fast. And I picked up another quest to acquire the help of the Iron Collar, a mercenary group also hanging out in beautiful, scenic Targos.

17 – While I was trying to figure out how to open a locked door, a group of goblins attacked. Again, all I had to do was click on them and down they went, ready to be looted.

20 – Inside an unnamed person's home, and there are more goblins to kill.

Icewind Dale 2 Goblin Killing

21 – After some clicking around, I figured out who in the Annals of Helgren was my thief: Kei the Wooden. Yeah, that's her name. Using her, I am now able to open up locked chests. Got some gold, a sword, and a fire agate gem thanks to her skills. Not much else to do in this house so it's back outside we go...

23 – Bumped into a man named Jorun Tamewater, but despite his neat name he's little help to us.

25 – FINALLY FOUND THE SALTY DOG TAVERN. Guess we'll go in for a drink and some chit-chat.

27 – Hmm. The Iron Collar was inside, but my speech skills failed, and I couldn't convince them to help Targos out and fight off these never-ending goblin waves. Depressed, I went to the barman and sold some loot I didn't need, like extra swords and shields.

30 – Found a house full of...cats. Well, that's a little better than a house full of goblins, but man. Way too man cats here. Oh, and an old, blind woman. Didn't Hedron mention his mother was blind? Yes, yes he did. Well, it's her, and we talk for a bit, and I make a mental note to return to Hedron and tell him his mother is safe and sound in her cat-crammed abode.

33 – Still wandering around Targos, killing goblins. It's a pretty big town, and parts of the map are shrouded in darkness until you walk over to them, giving off an even larger sense of scale. Wait, this isn't even the town, it's still the harbor.

Icewind Dale 2 Cave Exploration

36 – Used my thief character to open a locked warehouse door. Hey, Magdar Shenlen was inside! He's the guy who can help us with some healing potions. He gives the Annals of Halgren full clearance to smash the crap out of every barrel in this warehouse in hopes of finding these potions. Naturally, just as we begin taking out barrels, goblins storm inside to attack.

40 – Warehouse has now been cleared of all barrels and lootable chests. Time to head back to the dock we arrived on where the wounded soldier is. Surprisingly, despite telling us he'd go on ahead of us, Magdar is not there. What a liar.

42 – what? I guess I'll continue exploring Targos in search of caves where these goblins could be coming from. Don't have much else to go on right now.

43 – All right. There's another warehouse near the pier that is full of goblins. This was originally what I needed the Iron Collar's help with, but since they turned their collective noses up at the Annals of Halgren, we're going in on our own. It wasn't a problem, as my party swarmed each and every goblin until there were no more to be swarmed. Also, found a dead cat. ::sad face::

46 – A trap door inside this pier warehouse leads to a cave below, but because of terrible AI pathing, I can't get anyone to click on it without getting in each other's ways. Oh boy. I had to move my entire party away, and then bring them back to get it right.

47 – In a cave, killing goblins. This is becoming monotonous to experience and write, and I'm sure you all are simply enthralled.

Icewind Dale 2 Cleric Spells

50 – Uh oh. Someone from my troop died, swarmed by one too many goblin jerks. It was the wizard, Mordakai of Thay. Oh well. Didn't really know the fellow...

52 – Okay, think I cleared out this cave. Can't find any more goblins to slice down. Heading back outside to speak to my bro Brogan.

53 – Brogan says Ulbrec will give us a hefty reward for clearing out those nasty goblins and saving Targos from total overrun. The way further into town is via the western path, and so off we go.

55 – The game actually transitioned to a new screen, now that the Annals of Halgren (minus one) are in town proper. Exploring as we move forward, but there's really not much to see. A lot of the town and buildings are roped off. Though we did come across a house with a creepy man inside; he was whispering to corpses. Thinking I might have to come back to him later and dive deeper into this CSI-like mystery.

60 – Hey, found Ulbrec Dinnsmore in the town hall. Don't get that name confused with Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm, from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or Ulric the great Nadir warleader from David Gemmell's Legend. This is Ulbrec, and he's nicely voice-acted. I report to him what happened down at the docks. Gratitude and rewards are passed on, and then Ulbrec informs us that a man named Shawford Crale, commander of the Targos Guard, can assign us further duties. Too bad our one hour with Icewind Dale II is up.

Icewind Dale 2 Storybook Cutscene

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 10

What I loved: Dialogue trees and...dialogue in general. It flowed well and had a good sense of depth, with plenty of topics you could ask more about. Most was even voice-acted. I also dug a lot of the artwork used to set the story at the beginning of the game.

What I hated: Most of the game. Yes, you read that right. It certainly is not a very exciting first sixty minutes, with little guidance and too much goblin grinding. I also found that there were too many things to click on and assign; an auto-level up function would've been greatly appreciated. And with a party of six randomly generated characters, I never felt immersed in the world or even cared a pinch about them. Sure, I could've made my own team, but even then it seems like they are just one singular unit for attacking rather than individuals on a mission to save a port town. Another problem I had was trying to select different attack options for my party members during the heat of battle; after my sixty minutes were up, I figured out that pressing the space bar paused the action. That would've been nice to know earlier on. But yeah, this just didn't work for me. Too much to manage and not a fun start with unexciting loot drops.

Would I keep playing? No. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I might continue on or at least start over with a new team, but it took me three weeks to type up these notes, and during that span of time I did not go hop back in. And revisiting my time here with Icewind Dale II has not gotten me any more interested in it. Though I do still plan to try out The Temple of Elemental Evil...


Man, what are you doing

Man, what are you doing reviewing RPG's of any sort? Don't let modern terms fool you, you seem to enjoy the experience of a "Guided story adventure". That in its self is not bad, but you really missed to whole concept of the game here (And indeed, the concept of "Role-play").

I enjoy easy games like mass

I enjoy easy games like mass effect and i really liked Dragon Age 1 (Dragon Age 2 not so much, was simply a worse RPG).

Especially the difficulty is nice, as a lot of new games are simply way too easy, even if played on the hardest difficulty its not that hard at all (which is a big flaw).

Actual care for the character and spending a lot of time creating them is a big part in D&D. It can easily take hours to make a character, write a background story and fully get its character, its a pen & paper game and Icewind Dale is the combat version of D&D, less the role playing one.

Where Planescape Torment is the text based crawler, Icewind Dale is the combat crawler of the D&D world.

And god i enjoyed this games, and they are exceptionel well made by anyone that can fully grasp "real" RPG games.

For the Call of Duty like player, Mass effect is among the best RPG you can get, as it really guides you through the story and the options in dialog are mostly meaningless and just give you a funny time playing (which is nice, its just not a crazy RPG).

Baldurs gate gets its enhanced edition , which might be a chance to get reworks of all the classic games, especially Planescape Torment is something that i would play with better graphics and overall more of it (as it had such a great story, it was not from this planet).

I would say World of Warcraft

I would say World of Warcraft would be right down your alley. Over the years it has been dumbed down to fit exactly the type of game you're looking for. Simple games, for simple minds.

Old-School RPGs are not your thing

If you didn't take the time to make your own characters, have a problem with manually leveling up your characters (god forbid they don't include an auto-level button, too much work in clicking through four menus when you level), and want to be a badass right from the start, then don't play old RPGs. You are not a badass, you are weak. Sure, you are above average warriors compared to some, but you can't go out and kill dragons in your first few levels. You have to prove yourself and become stronger in order to achieve that.

You seem to be incredibly lazy, and I don't know if you just haven't played RPGs with customization before or what, but it seems insane to me that you are complaining about the average amount of customization available in ID2. Creating your own team, leveling them as you see fit, and watching them grow as you progress are HUGE parts of the game. Let's go through the list of things you hated:

1) No auto-level.

Auto-level would be a terrible idea. Unlike RPGs today, you can't have a single build work for every situation. Your group of 1-6 can work off of each other, and you can't have one auto-level for an archetype because it may cause a lot of unnecessary overlap with another character (for example, dumping points in intimidate for 3 characters would be a poor choice).

2) Little guidance.

Again, the game doesn't hold your hand. But with a bit of adventuring you can find everything just fine. If not, check out a guide, fine. The game isn't going to have big arrows pointing you to your destination, you don't get babied through ID2.

3) Goblin grinding.

You are not a badass. That is, at the start you are relatively weak. You don't just go to dragon-slaying and ogre bashing from level one. That would be a very poor sense of progression. There are still boss units in ID2, a wide assortment of enemies, and much more that you can't fully experience in one hour. But ID2 wasn't made to be a one hour game, so I suppose you had a flawed review from the start.

4) Too much stuff to click on and assign.
5) Couldn't select different options for party members when in battle.

Which one is it? You have plenty of options, but not enough? If you tried clicking on a single party member while in battle, you would have seen that you can have them operate independently from the group. Didn't know that was a complicated concept.

6) Didn't know about the pause button.

Error between the chair and the keyboard.

7) Never felt immersed in the game.

Your fault for not customizing your characters or caring about them. The game can't FORCE you to care about it, you have to try. Sorry, error again between the same space as before.

8) Too much to manage.

There is an average amount of customization for your character. There really isn't that much, and its just enough to be satisfying. How you can be overwhelmed by the level up system is beyond me. The character creation screen, sure, its a bit much. Take 15-20 minutes and you can get a solid crew. If that's too much time, then you should not play this game.

9) No cool loot.

Same thing with the goblins. You aren't going to get a staff that summons Demons from the sky in the first few minutes. QQ.

TL;DR You give this game zero justice because of your own laziness. Go play ME and get your hand held through it and auto-level up your way to being a total badass in the first few levels if that's what you want.

Everything you disliked about

Everything you disliked about IWD2 were it's greatest strengths. Making your own A-Team of D&D heroes is a blast. When I played through this game (10 years ago, when it was relevant) I simply 'Imagined' personalities for all my characters. I'm suddenly nostalgic for the adventures of my made up PCs Lord Doomhammer, Nameless One, Ice Princess, Nargh, Brakka and Thraxus.

I would not recommend you bother going back to replay this game at any point. It's an endless dungeon crawl that plays solely off the strength of it's combat system, and requires its player to have a decent grasp of Dungeons and Dragons rules. Loads of fun back in 2002, awfully dated today. Play Dragon Age 1 instead. It's the same play style, but with a cleaner rules system and upgraded graphics.

Hmm, that's too bad

I've not played ID2 yet, but plan to. I played both original BG games back in the day and ID1 a few years later, very much enjoying them all. I actually liked the ID model better as you get to customize your entire party, rather than just the protagonist and you don't have to much with all the whining as your choices don't match up perfectly with the goals of your crew. Much of the BG games is spent trying to keep your team happy and not abandoning you, rather than progressing with the missions you find interesting.

If you didn't create your own team and populate them with your own ideas of who they were etc, and if you didn't know to pause during combat, you basically missed out on 90% of what makes these games great/function. That's too bad. I would highly recommend ToEE, as I enjoyed it probably more than I did the original ID. However, based on your experience in ID2, I'm thinking even ToEE may not be a good fit for you.

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