IMG Archives
Archives  Previews  Icewind Dale  

Adventure & RPG
Release Date

Icewind Dale
March 6, 2002 | Michael Phillips

Click to enlarge

We Need to Find Likeminded CompanionsÖ
Unlike both incarnations of Baldurís Gate that centered around a single protagonistís journey, Icewind Dale focuses on the adventuring party as a whole. When the game begins, players can either create their entire party from scratch or import as many pre-created characters as they wish, but there are no NPCs to be picked up along the way. 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 always starts at level 1 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.

I love being able to form my whole party; it allows one to become attached to the entire group rather than just a single member. In Baldurís Gate, there was always at least one NPC that absolutely unnerved me to no end (Ajantis: Worst Paladin EVER!), but such annoyances arenít an issue in Icewind Dale. Players will also be able to export their favorite characters and partake in multiplayer action via GameRanger.

Iím Sick, but Iím Pretty, Baby!
At first, I was a tad skeptical of Icewind Daleís being able to stand up graphically. I knew it would be immersive like the rest of BioWareís RPG lineup. I was certain there would be hours of gameplay and dozens of locations to visit. Yet, I still worried. Icewind Dale's graphics engine is NEWER than that of the original Baldurís Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast, but itís OLDER than Baldurís Gate II. Would it not feel dated? No, it looks quite nice. At 640x480, the images arenít as lovely as they could be, but theyíre still nothing at which to scoff. Iím particularly fond of Icewind Daleís lighting effects. Being mostly a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl, there is plenty of torchlight abound to set a very eerie tone. I also enjoy the juxtaposition of heat and cold in the game, one moment a party can be tromping through bitter cold tundra, then duck into a cave and be enveloped by sweltering volcanic heat. Each location is lit perfectly to set just the right mood. The tombs hidden within the Vale of Shadows are particularly macabre.

Spell effects in Icewind Dale are also something to behold. I canít say that they look insanely better or worse than those found in Baldurís Gate II, theyíre simply different. They look beautifully animated, but not in true 3D. My personal favorite is Icewind Daleís interpretation of Chromatic Orb, itís particularly stunning.

Player and creature animation is smooth and convincing, the death animations on some of the larger creatures being most satisfying. In fact, Icewind Dale spotlights creatures larger in stature than most of those found in both Baldurís Gate and Baldurís Gate II. The oafish Verbeeg for example, is nearly twice the size of any player character. Adventurers can expect to be in awe of their foes plenty of times while tackling Icewind Dale.

You Canít Argue with the Little Things, itís the Little Things that Make Up Life
Icewind Dale will give 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 very unique. One of them was a Static Dagger that would sometimes dole out electrical damage. Icewind Dale will definitely keep weapon enthusiasts happily surprised.

Get Ready for the Big Chill
Well, folks, Icewind Dale is almost upon us. Basking in the glow of beta status, this game isnít far off at all. Sporting a solid story, intense action, lushly ominous graphics, a menagerie of enemies and plenty of surprises, Icewind Dale is sure to cure whatever ails Mac users lusting for a new RPG fix.

Normally, this is the part where I ask a little Simpsons trivia and dispense with a free game, but not this time. Instead, in honor of Alanis Morissette and her new album, Under Rug Swept, weíre going to do a bit of Alanis trivia. Throughout this preview, Iíve sprinkled 4 Alanis references. The first person to identify all 4 wins their very own shiny copy of Under Rug Swept. (Note: We have a winner! If you really must know the correct answer, write me. :-) )

Icewind Dale
Mac Version: Contraband Entertainment
Publisher: MacPlay
Buy Icewind Dale now at


Archives  Previews  Icewind Dale