Icewind Dale 2 = Amazing

I love this game. The new interface is awesome. The writing is great too. Something about this game feels sooo right. Man. Anyone else pick it up today? I am loving it. My party is great!

Picked it up for quite a few trade-ins at EB… very interesting to say the least, some parts of the interface are nice. Imported my 1 male guy/5 female harem band and am having some, albeit 1st level, fun.

— Alan

Yeah, so far I’m having a great time. Just something about these Infinity engine games that make me want to call into work sick and spend the day sitting around in my boxers eating Doritos, drinking beer, and playing video games. :D

I hear ya, I have a friggin 7-3:30 shift tomorrow so arhghg. I am thinking about staying up all night playing IWD2 and suffering through work. I dunno tho.

Well, can you qualify whether it is amazing in an Icewind Dale 1 sort of way? Because truthfully I didn’t like the original much because of the heavy action-rpg style action.

Is it more of the same?

Lots of action, lots more story and more interesting characters. I DO have the unpopular opinion that IWD was better than BG2, so take that as you will.

I like how there is a discussion in IWD2 that pokes fun at the genre:

To be honest I was expecting a lot of running around, talking to simple townsfolk, and playing fetch and go rather than stepping right off the ship into battle

I am with you Mr Angry Face - IWD pulled me in and led me for a rip roaring ride. I actually replayed the game when HOW game out with a brand new party. The locations stuck in my mind for a long time - the Elven Citadel is still my favorite by a long shot. Anyway I am still sitting waiting for my CE so don’t pop up any spoilers.

Haha, HoW was good n all, but it made Druids INSANELY powerful. I replayed through with HoW and I basically just had the other party members around for hitpoints while my Druid mopped up with an insane amount of area affect spells and summons while my thief did all the long range damage and trap finding. Still an awesome game though.

The writing in IWD2 is so good. A lot of the humor is right on the mark. Nice n dry.

Seriously? I have never played a druid in any D&D based games. I always looked at their early spell list and shrugged…insect swarms, friendly animals never appealed. Are they really that strong? What are the particular benefits?

IWD2 is a terrific tactical battlegame, with a good story that’s far too linear for it’s own good. Basically you create 6 characters using an incredibly wide range of 3E choices and then move from carefully set-up set-piece battle to carefully set-up set-piece battle amidst the muddy graphics and general clunkyness of the Infinity Engine. Conversations can almost always be safely skipped and mostly you’re managing your party through constant battle right after you just finished a few big battles. You have to rest with ridiculous frequency and until your Priest gets Raise Dead you’ll travel miles and miles to Raise Dead party members… sometimes 3-5 times a day.

Its sort of a pity, in my opinion, that the freedom of character creation is set in a gameworld that completely lacks freedom of movement (like BG2’s remarkable 2nd Chapter) but the trade off is worth it. This is a wargame set in an RPG. They’ve even added breakable barrels and used them effectively. And you should see the AI use terrain. Retreating or luring the bad guys to a fight-spot of your choosing is recommended.

Don’t get me wrong, its wonderful and the perfect swan song for that engine. I just don’t think it beats BG2 in the RPG department. Anyone who approached BioWare’s RPGs looking for a RTS D&D wargame is going to adore IWD2.

Freedom of movement for me = freedom to get lost and waste time. I’m not a big fan of it, though it works pretty well in Morrowind. One of the things I enjoyed about Dungeon Siege was that the game was on a tight rail.

Yeah, but did you play Baldur’s Gate 2 Mark? I’m talking about a different kind of freedom. Ok, it isn’t actually freedom, its having something like 15 quests to choose from. Some you can take, some disregard, or skip them all and focus on the main story. All the while the main story in BG2 was waiting the side quests sometimes shed light on it and sometimes were just there so you could fight a Red Dragon. The result was a game you could actually replay and see new things, with the tightness of the rail you’re talking about. Aside from a few very short step n’ fetch quests IWD has nothing like that. You go from point A, to B, to C. In a straight unwavering line.

I have a system which if not quite uber any more is pretty decent – decent CPU, lots of memory, GeForce 3… But I find that the IWD 2 pathing still is godawful, and the characters just move so damn slowly… it’s even an in-game joke in the introductory chapter how you need Swift William to ferry you around on these fetch-and-carry missions. Elsewhere in the game covering ground you’ve already seen is almost agonizing, so it’s just as well the game is fairly linear.

Maybe it’s just me, maybe some of the better recent 3D games have spoiled me, but although IWD 2 is quite good in other respects, the clumsiness and dated feel of the engine is turning me off it somewhat.

By the way, on the freedom vs. linearity of game play subject, it’s really not a cut and dried thing so far as I am concerned. In general I prefer open-ended free-form games, but some such games turn me off because I feel lost in a sea of pointless gameplay with no useful objectives. These tend to be games in which the designers focused too much on gameplay (sounds silly, I guess) but didn’t provide enough game content, context, plot, characters, or whatever it is that makes a game more fun than just solving some abstract formal system of rules.

I think the best sort of game worlds have freedom of action (with the ability for the player to achieve self-set goals and change the game world) while at the same time providing a strong plot with motivation to move forward in it. This is naturally a difficult trick to pull off for any game designer who may understandably be more concerned with just getting elementary tactical gameplay right without having to worry about this vague and difficult question. As relatively recent examples of freedom vs. linearity, I could cite Morrowind as being too open and free, IWD and IWD2 as being too linear, and Planescape: Torment as being just right (though the game had some other problems including being too short.) My favorite all time game which balanced gameplay vs. the freedom/linearity thing in the context of its technology would be Sundog from FTL games, which must have come out in 1986 or so. It seemed to have the ideal balance of these elements, though I suppose if I somehow was able to look at the game again it would seem primitive and silly.

I didn’t feel that Torment was too short at all. I like that length. Actually, BG2 is WAY too long. I haven’t finished it; I am not sure I got halfway, actually. Morrowind is overly long, but because of the freedom you get, it’s worth it. Personally, I like to play lots of different games, so any more than 40 hours or so from one game is overkill for me, and it ruins the experience (because I don’t get to see the end).

As for linearity, I agree that it depends on the game. Halflife had perfect linearity, and not just because it was a shooter. Most shooters seem too linear to me, but HL somehow felt right. IWD’s linearity didn’t bother me because I expected it. BG2 was, as Andrew said, the perfect blend of freedom and railing. You FEEL like you are making all the decisions, even though the game is basically linear. I think more games should have branching storylines, so that you can make lots of decisions but still ultimately end up at the same place. Then you can replay the game and still have a new experience, while still being part of the same type of story.

Mark: i totally agree with you on your freedom comment. There is a REASON I like Icewind Dale over Baldur’s Gate 2. Sometimes open ended can get tired if you ask me. IWD2 forever!

As for Druids, the amount of area affect spells they have is INSANE! Area spells = King in the original IWD against most large groups of monsters.

> Morrowind is overly long, but because of the freedom you get, it’s worth it

Morrowind is actually extremely short, if you just follow the main path. Far shooter than any of the Infinity engine games. In fact, I got to know that game so well during the course of making my crazy 150,000 word strategy guide, I could finish Morrowind from start-finish in under 4 hours. That’s shorter than Max Payne and Elite Force, heh.

Interesting slip there :)

— Alan

Dunno if I’d go as far as to say amazing–the play in Targos is not at all indicative of the rest of the game. The pathfinding is as bad as any IE game…ever. It may not be the pathfinding logic more than it is the layout of some of the areas. It gets downright annoying after a while.

That said, it is a fun combat heavy 3E game. (some of the fights are brutal) I had to fly through it to meet a deadline and I wish I could have experimented with more character classes.

I’ve been away from this site for a few months. Nice new digs.

Interesting. That was exactly what I liked least about Dungeon Siege. For some reason, a “hub” style of gaming (which is exactly what Dungeon Siege’s designers were avoiding I suspect) – where you have a safe haven, go off to kill beasties, then come back to safe haven to collect your reward/rest/equip/etc. – is much more congenial to me than a game that’s on a rail. For me an RPG is dependent in part on feeling there’s a continuous world out there and I have some control over my movement within it. In Dungeon Siege it felt more as though it was a (gorgeous) backdrop that was just sort of rolling past my window as I slaughtered monsters.

Freedom of movement does lead to some time wasting but if the world is densely packed enough that’s not a huge problem. In the best RPG’s there’s always something to do. (Morrowind was as dense as any but the inordinate walking times, and the rather generic dungeons, probably added to the boredom factor.)

What I want in an RPG is an ability to prioritize my goals. I want to have lots of different things to choose from – different quests to perform, different ways to spend my money, different areas to explore. It is often in dealing with these choices and priorities that I find RPG gaming to be at its most engaging.

Know what I liked about the first IWD? The beginning… It was a one way only story, but it kept the player involved at all times. When you were sent on a quest, there were side quests to keep you interested, there was something to do that wasn’t just killing non-stop, there was some NPC that needed your help, etc. Later in IWD that didn’t hold true…you could go for hours without doing anything but killing, it seemed.

In IWD2, I’m liking the beginning again… I’m afraid, as I’ve heard, the game will quit keeping me so involved and just become about leveling up and killing…I’m hoping not.

For me, that’s made BG2 chapter2 the best RPG ever played. I had choices for what I could do, but I also had a world that was reacting to me. NPCs came up to me and wanted my help, political intrigue was everywhere and I decided which factions I helped and so on. At no point did it just let me be in a big world (like MW), but it always was urging me on…making me feel like I was a part of the world. After that it just became a mostly boring slugfest…not as much fun as IWD/IWD2’s slugfest, imho.

Essientally, a good RPG should try to keep the player immersed/involved at all times. A lot like HL did.