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Well this is a bit embarrasing


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All this talk about PoE being the spiritual successor to BG / IWD etc. made me realise something...

 

...I can't remember playing Icewind Dale 2!

 

I'm a huge fan of all the IE games. I can distinctly remember player BG while I should have been studying at university in 1999. Back it those days it was really difficult to find games here in South Africa i.e. before steam / digital download.

 

I still miss the feeling of buying the retail boxes and some of them still have special places in my collection:

IMAG3276.jpg

 

BG was my first IE and it was an excellent game at the time. Soon after finishing BG I found an Icewind dale demo (the demo might even have been on the BG discs?). I played that demo quite a few times and it took me years to trace a retail box copy of IWD. I was very excited when I actually randomly found BG2 in a store a few years later. No matter what anyone says I still believe BG2 (including Throne of Bhaal) is in the top 5 games ever made. It was also a big effort to find a retail copy Throne of Bhaal.

 

I also heard of Planescape Torment but was never able to locate a copy. It was not until last year that I discovered GoG and played PST for the first time! It was slightly disappointing as it didn't live up to the "best game ever made" billing. It was still very good.

 

With PoE 3rd play-through almost done, it is time to find IWD 2 on GoG...

Edited by petrivanzyl
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I honestly couldn't remember much of anything about IWD 1 or the HoW Expansion. I know that I played them shortly after their release, and I remember a lot of snow...but that's nearly about it. I don't think I ever touched Trials of the Luremaster, which ironically I guess was released for free.

 

I remembered all of the others quite well, because I played them all multiple times. But when I got IWD:EE it was almost like playing an IE game for the first time.

Edited by Marceror
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"Now to find a home for my other staff."
My Project Eternity Interview with Adam Brennecke

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IWD was beautiful. One of my favorite RPGs ever. But I think you had to have grown up playing the Gold Box games or Wizardry or The Bard's Tale. That game was a love letter to them. They even had quite a few references to them. I remember one encounter literally had the text 'Death and Drek you curse as before you stands 3 Salamanders' just like The Bard's Tale II. So today it is kind of nostalgia for nostalgia. I don't know if people who are not almost 40 like me would enjoy it.

 

It has great fights and itemization and beautiful environments at least. And I loved the plot and the twist at the end.

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Icewind Dale 2 recieves a lot of criticism, some of it fair, some of it unfair, however I personally think that it starts off with one of the strongest openings of all of the IE games bar Torment, and ends on a similarly high note. However the middle part of the content is where the grind really hits, one has to venture through the Underdark, and as all RPG gamers know that means a metric ton of grinding enemies over and over again, rather than interesting content. If they had cut out the part of the game where I leave and finally rejoin the Gnome airship I believe that it would have seriously increased my enjoyment of the game.

 

Everything to either side of that I found to be interesting and enjoyable, the siege of Targos was fun, reactive, innovative and quite challenging. The Shaengarne bridge situation was, though a little combat oversaturated as were most of the IE games, enjoyable and new. Even the Goblin stronghold was something that I enjoyed as a challenge and a use of different tactics and strategies. Fast foward to the return to Kuldahar and the heroes vale and the game suddenly sprang to life again for me.

 

This is not to say that there was not interesting content between these points, but that they were drowned out by busywork and arbitrary wandering around acting out the usual murder hobo routine, or as the book in the game states, "Face it you're neutral evil!" There were some interesting and potentially brilliant ideas, that could have really shone if they had had room to breathe and be iterated upon.

 

Then again considering the development time, the fact that Interplay was falling down around the developers ears and the limited staff and budget, well it really should be counted as one of the twelves labours of developing that it shipped in the remarkably polished and content dense state that it did.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Yes, though it should be noted that unusually BG2's Underdark section was both interesting and involved, a real highlight of the game.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Icewind Dale 2 recieves a lot of criticism, some of it fair, some of it unfair, however I personally think that it starts off with one of the strongest openings of all of the IE games bar Torment, and ends on a similarly high note. However the middle part of the content is where the grind really hits, one has to venture through the Underdark, and as all RPG gamers know that means a metric ton of grinding enemies over and over again, rather than interesting content. If they had cut out the part of the game where I leave and finally rejoin the Gnome airship I believe that it would have seriously increased my enjoyment of the game.

 

I'm not really sure IWD2 deserves all the bad reputation it gets. I'm not even sure where it comes from. Granted, the Infinity Engine did have a bunch of problems with the ruleset - the lack of sneak attacks essentially killed the rogue class now that every other class could invest in thieving skills as well. Combat was hard but never unfair, at least if you ignore the Iron Golems and those damnable Whisps in Fell Wood. Dialogues probably had the most reactivity to stats and classes in all of the IE games except PS:T.

 

The (in?)arguably worst part of IWD2 was the Ice Temple. It was annoyingly huge, featured a boring ass host of puzzles (turn the dais, speak the passphrase and hey, shoot some lightning at mirrors, how wonderfully original) and of course the awesome battle squares, but afterwards it wasn't so bad.

 

It's not like Icewind Dale didn't have its fair share of dungeons that went on a bit too long, like the entire Vale of Shadows and Kresselack's Tomb - entire zones filled by Yetis, Skeletons and a mummy or two, and once you went all the way to Kresselack and asked the probably most ridiculous question in a cRPG ever ("Are you the evil that plagues the Vale?", what, like, for real?) you had to go out and kill that priestess of Auril and haul your ass ALL the way back to Kresselack without any shortcut outside of cheats.

 

*shrug*

No voice to cry suffering.

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IWD2 wasn't a bad game by any means, but it was more about combat than story. To me the strong points were the beautiful backgrounds, a fairly decent implementation of D&D v3, the diversity of unique and colorful items, and the glorious challenging combat. It was a fun game, but didn't replay well due to being relatively linear. And yes, there was some travel through the Underdark.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Icewind Dale 2 recieves a lot of criticism, some of it fair, some of it unfair, however I personally think that it starts off with one of the strongest openings of all of the IE games bar Torment, and ends on a similarly high note. However the middle part of the content is where the grind really hits, one has to venture through the Underdark, and as all RPG gamers know that means a metric ton of grinding enemies over and over again, rather than interesting content. If they had cut out the part of the game where I leave and finally rejoin the Gnome airship I believe that it would have seriously increased my enjoyment of the game.

 

I'm not really sure IWD2 deserves all the bad reputation it gets. I'm not even sure where it comes from. Granted, the Infinity Engine did have a bunch of problems with the ruleset - the lack of sneak attacks essentially killed the rogue class now that every other class could invest in thieving skills as well. Combat was hard but never unfair, at least if you ignore the Iron Golems and those damnable Whisps in Fell Wood. Dialogues probably had the most reactivity to stats and classes in all of the IE games except PS:T.

 

The (in?)arguably worst part of IWD2 was the Ice Temple. It was annoyingly huge, featured a boring ass host of puzzles (turn the dais, speak the passphrase and hey, shoot some lightning at mirrors, how wonderfully original) and of course the awesome battle squares, but afterwards it wasn't so bad.

 

It's not like Icewind Dale didn't have its fair share of dungeons that went on a bit too long, like the entire Vale of Shadows and Kresselack's Tomb - entire zones filled by Yetis, Skeletons and a mummy or two, and once you went all the way to Kresselack and asked the probably most ridiculous question in a cRPG ever ("Are you the evil that plagues the Vale?", what, like, for real?) you had to go out and kill that priestess of Auril and haul your ass ALL the way back to Kresselack without any shortcut outside of cheats.

 

*shrug*

 

 

I really didn't mind the Vale of Shadows and its little crypts, it and Kresselack's tomb had an aweome soundtrack, the combat in the Black Wolf's lair was interesting and a good tactical and strategic challenge, and without the combat encounters it was quite easy to traverse and deal with the Aurilite. If Kresselacks tomb had had just a little more interactivity and reactivity (something sadly missing from most modern rpgs) i'd count it as one of the best dungeons of the IE games.

 

I really thought the Black Wolf was going to be the returned spirit that had taken Wylfdane in the Heart of Winter, quite surprised when it was revealed as the Orm.

 

Edit: I agree about the Ice Temple however in IWD2, though it was nice to see little Nate grown to manhood and referenced by the game. That was where the game headed downhill for me, there was absolutely no reason to leave the airship and wander around aimlessly grinding for experience, and to then meet the airship upon leaving the Mind Flayer layer was a frank slap in the face.

Edited by Nonek

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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I really didn't mind the Vale of Shadows and its little crypts, it and Kresselack's tomb had an aweome soundtrack, the combat in the Black Wolf's lair was interesting and a good tactical and strategic challenge, and without the combat encounters it was quite easy to traverse and deal with the Aurilite. If Kresselacks tomb had had just a little more interactivity and reactivity (something sadly missing from most modern rpgs) i'd count it as one of the best dungeons of the IE games.

 

 

Well, let's just agree to disagree here. Kesselack's Tomb is the reason for most of my IWD parties to fail. I reach the Valley, fight 50 yeti, enter the tomb and go like "ah hell, this goes on for three levels and 200 sekeltons, I'm outta here" and go play something else. I'm curious though, where do you see the tactical and stragegic challenge of fighting hordes of skeletons strewn with the odd mummy or two?

 

It really IS a logistics nightmare though. Extremely heavy yeti pelts too profitable to pass up force you to haul stuff back and forth, same with the loot in the tomb(s). No wonder PoE had an endless bag of holding unless you actively turned it off. ;)

No voice to cry suffering.

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Well, let's just agree to disagree here. Kesselack's Tomb is the reason for most of my IWD parties to fail. I reach the Valley, fight 50 yeti, enter the tomb and go like "ah hell, this goes on for three levels and 200 sekeltons, I'm outta here" and go play something else. I'm curious though, where do you see the tactical and stragegic challenge of fighting hordes of skeletons strewn with the odd mummy or two?

 

It really IS a logistics nightmare though. Extremely heavy yeti pelts too profitable to pass up force you to haul stuff back and forth, same with the loot in the tomb(s). No wonder PoE had an endless bag of holding unless you actively turned it off. ;)

 

 

The strategic challenge lies in a number of factors: One. my choices are limited due to the four man party I typically use. Two, I don't rest or resupply once i've entered a dungeon and try to complete in one attempt. Three, my spells, abilities and items must be carefully rationed and used at appropriate times. Four, my party members health and viability in their roles must be carefully monitored and maintained.

 

Tactically I like the lay out of the undead in Kresselack's tombs, one cannot simply use a chokepoint or rush the enemy. One must scout, clear traps, make careful advances and disable key enemies while hindering the onrush of the undead, using the Druid or Mages most potent abilities. One must also stay on ones toes and be aware of the self destructing, or more harmful enemies and retain the abilities to destroy or incapacitate them at range.

 

Add to this the wonderful descriptions scattered throughout the tomb, the oppressive feeling of being watched that the carven faces of Kresselack transmit, and the sense that one is stumbling into a tragic backstory, well this elevates the dungeon into one of my favourites. Especially when one adds in the factor of Mr Jays wonderful voice acting as the Black Wolf, an underused character in my view.

 

Loot I simply prioritised, and left the rest behind to disappear, a realistic and sensible strategic option.

 

However this is simply my opinion.

Edited by Nonek
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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Too many.... keys?

 

Yeah, don't you know, if you accidentally open the wrong door in the Water Temple with one of the small keys is really becomes an a-class pain in the butt to complete it. Not impossible, but really, really annyoing. Longest time I ever spent on a dungeon. Of course, the most time I spent getting into a dungeon was that bitchin' figure eight puzzle in the desert.

 

But that's neither here not there. ;)

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Well, after helping run a fansite for IWD2 ( https://web.archive.org/web/20021004135749/http://shadow-network.net/iwd2/ ), following its development quite closely, making suggestions to the devs on a daily basis, and so on, I really  should remember it more than I do  :ermm:

 

The few things I do remember well are:

  • The fantastically written and developed intro area of Targos and the nearby goblin caves
  • The fact that the press preview copy had 3D acceleration which the final game didn't :( 
  • The horrible, horrible Ice Temple
  • The Fell Wood - nice concept, but it didn't really work in practice
  • The fantastic icons and how sick Brian Menze was of making icons in the end
  • The Landsknecht controversy (before the game switched to 3e rules)
  • The annoying forced ambushes throughout the game
  • How sad I was to see so much content had to be recycled from the first game
  • The insane ever-shifting release deadline which made the game development a bit... schizophrenic 
  • How I got my ass kicked by the twins in the end battle despite having a breeze for 99% of the game (I complained loudly enough that they modified the end battle difficulty slightly for those of us who managed to reach certain levels where scaling didn't work as well)
  • How I really didn't buy the Legion of the Chimaera as the huge threat they were supposed to be... they were hard to see as villains, which I suppose was the goal, but it also made them into less of a threat. I actually wanted to join the Legion, dammit!

 

Look, I even managed to dig up my preview from the Wayback Machine. w00t!

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There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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