Genre: RPG / Hack’n’Slash | Players: 1- 6 (via TCP IP/Lan)
Developer: Black Isle Studios
First and foremost: if you came to play Icewind Dale to delve back into the intrigue and mysteries of Faerun... forget it. While its forefather Baldur's Gate shone with enigmas, twisted puzzles and little quests that had to be solved, Icewind Dale is more or less devoid of all that making it more Diablo-like than RPG. The story is as linear as humanly possible, the game is one long slaughter-fest from start to end. The secondary quests are often limited to "find object A and bring it to Character B to obtain object/reward C" which is a far cry from some BG quests. Probably because Bioware didn't develop this one, Black Isle did. Still, as BI developed Fallout 2, which is a masterpiece in terms of storyline and accessory quests, questions could be asked as to whether they worked seriously on Icewind Dale or not.
In terms of graphics, the game uses a refined Infinity Engine and offers really beautiful sceneries, as well as very nice music by Jeremy Soule. In terms of gameplay... well... it's the same as Baldur’s Gate but with lots of new classes, character options, and equipment (prefiguring BG 2 that would be released only a few months later).
The only originality is that you don't recruit any characters. You create your whole party at the beginning, from 1 to 6 characters, with the classes you wish. Don't forget the basic: one thief, one wizard, and one priest. Then add a few tanks. I mean warriors/rangers.
Now the add-ons. Yes, plural. First Heart of Winter: Well, Heart of Winter continues a bit the story of Icewind Dale but doesn't add anything like subtlety or puzzles. The game is still a slaughter-fest, only with more experience levels and more powerful tools for your heroes to slaughter their enemies with, hear the lamentation of their women, blah, blah, blah...
And then there's the free expansion, Trials of the Luremaster. It offers some tough enigmas, although not that hard if you compare them to the hellish difficulty of some in BG2, a series of REALLY tough dungeons and some incredible loot, all spoiled by the most annoying end boss. Still, a good challenge for an advanced party. I would advise people to play these dungeons when you're mid-game in Heart of Winter. Yes, TotL is an expansion to an expansion. And that was a decade before Inception.
All in all, a good game yet miles away from the genius that shone in Baldur's Gate and light-years away from the pearl that is Baldur's Gate 2.
Available on PC, Mac, and GOG.com.
3 "this game is expansionception" out of 5.
Nutted by Docrate1