|Publisher: MacPlay Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz RAM: 128 MB Hard Disk: 690 MB|
Unlike the Baldurís Gate series that centered around a protagonist and his or her non-player character (NPC) cohorts, Icewind Dale contains absolutely no player controllable NPCs. Instead, players are able to create their entire party from scratch. I like to dungeon crawl with a full party of six, while others like a smaller band of travelers. The choice is entirely up to the player. Furthermore, if a character isnít coping well, such as my poor half-elf Enchanter, they may be dropped from the party and replaced at any time. The new character does always start at level one with no gear save a trusty quarterstaff, but gear is easy enough to come by and leveling occurs quickly, provided that the newcomer is guarded by his chums for a bit. Itís nice not being stuck with horridly annoying characters. For example, I really enjoy Paladins and Clerics, but most of those found in Baldurís Gate and Baldurís Gate II were endlessly grating on my nerves, Anomen the Fighter/Cleric being the worst offender of them all. In fact, I left him as a monument to stupidity after being slammed with a Flesh to Stone spell, but I digress. In Icewind Dale, one can easily customize an entire party to their liking. Everything from character portraits to voice audio is adjustable, with a bevy of choices for each. There are five unique voices for male or female fighters and mages, plus two voices for either gender of thief. I like my thieving femme fatales to sound extra sultry. Portrait art in Icewind Dale is absolutely outstanding, eclipsing anything found in either Baldurís Gate adventure. There are certainly enough choices to find the right match for that sultry female thief that no party is complete without.
Story wise, Icewind Dale is very linear. There arenít many complex side quests or massive sprawling cities; the player is basically kept on one path with little room for exploration. Iím not saying that this one path is horribly uninteresting; on the contrary, Icewind Daleís plot is quite enthralling. However, those who go into Icewind Dale expecting to spend hours performing side quests BEFORE tackling the gameís main storyline will find themselves as let down as Liza Minelliís latest husband on honeymoon night. Itís important to realize that Icewind Dale is a danger-filled dungeon crawl, not a puzzle-solving journey. Players fight from one location to another, unraveling a dark mystery as they go. Through hard fought battles, the story of Icewind Dale unfolds.
Speaking of combat, Icewind Dale contains plenty! For example, upon leaving Easthaven, the expedition is decimated by a horridly suspicious avalanche, Hrothgarís hired adventurers being the only survivors. Immediately, players are thrust into battle as creatures swarm after the snow becomes still. In Icewind Dale, blood is spilled early and often. In order to survive, players must confront orcs, ogres, yetis, dozens of undead minions, some very tough spell casters and even giants! Giants are an amazing sight to behold, they are big and they fall HARD. It takes cunning strategy to fend off the villains of Icewind Dale. Brute force alone canít sustain a party; thieves and powerful spell casters are key to victory. Often times, the player is vastly outnumbered by deadly foes, thus spells that stun or otherwise disable enemies are highly useful.
Icewind Dale also gives players a number of small niceties to keep things interesting. For example, the game boasts a vast amount of weaponry. While exploring one evening, I picked up a bunch of daggers. At first glance, they all looked like Dagger+1ís, so I wasnít too overjoyed. Yet, upon further examination I discovered that they were actually all unique. One of them was a Static Dagger that would sometimes dole out electrical damage. Icewind Dale will definitely keep weapon enthusiasts happily surprised.
Lastly, in the area of gameplay, Icewind Dale boasts multiplayer support via GameRanger, LAN, or TCP/IP. Up to six players can get together and hack through the Spine of the Worldís icy snowdrifts as a team. Multiplayer Icewind Dale is reminiscent of playing through a traditional pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons campaign.