Icewind Dale II Makes the Party Feel Like It's Actually Mine

Icewind Dale II

 
Icewind Dale II has managed to surprise me again with its little touches.  Yeah, the game as a whole is linear, but often we want customizability more than just in which order we tackle main quests, which seems to be the substitute some companies like to make for player choice.  IWD2 manages to make me feel like the characters I created are part of the game, whether my monk refuses rewards for quests (and therefore gets pushed to the back unless the party in question is about to attack us and could benefit from the monk's diplomacy), my mage bluffs her way out of combat unexpectedly, or I manage to find a brilliant combination of spells and melee that takes out more driders than you'd think they could handle.  That party is MINE, and I've rarely ever felt that way about any RPG.  Yeah, it's tons of combat, but the quiet moments are outstanding, the voice acting is superb, and...  well, the combat can be damned satisfying.  That, and the humor, both hidden and overt, in this game is great stuff.  There's a book for sale at the Black Raven Monastery which ranks as one of my favorite self-referential jokes I've ever seen in any game.  Ever.  And it qualifies as my favorite item, hands down.
 
There is also a distinct lack of this "good choice bad choice" morality system we've become stuck in.  That's one thing that often made me cringe in KOTOR--  for once I'd like my choices to feel like a gamble, rather than having to reflect whatever morality I think will serve my interests best.  Sometimes it's better to slay the bastards, sometimes you can make deals, sometimes you can screw up and cause deadly misunderstandings.  It's a lot more messy, but it feels like a fun game as a result, rather than what becomes a rather linear good-all-the-time back scratching fest. 
 
As an aside, I've run into a couple of bugs, one of them made me rather rich, but I like the game enough that I tried not to exploit it.  Too much. That, and a few of the puzzles needed a few more clues.  That forest was plain cruel.  Also, charm spells, at least when used against me, just make my party stand around rather than attack their comrades.  The biggest danger is from my party AI trying to kill them, actually.  Otherwise charm spells have suddenly become a lot less annoying :)  What's a bit more annoying is that when one of my character's is targeted it takes quite a while before the attacker will disengage and attack someone else.  I've manipulated this often, killing enemies who thought it was a good idea to chase after the guy running in circles, rather than the group pelting him with arrows.  Given how tough some of the scenarios are, though, I don't worry about it too much.

I guess it's telling that the same folks who worked on Planescape backed IWD2; it's certainly no romp through Sigil, but it's damned fun.

Metroid: Zero Mission

 
Wrote a review about it.  That is all.
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3 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

Icewind Dale II

 
Icewind Dale II has managed to surprise me again with its little touches.  Yeah, the game as a whole is linear, but often we want customizability more than just in which order we tackle main quests, which seems to be the substitute some companies like to make for player choice.  IWD2 manages to make me feel like the characters I created are part of the game, whether my monk refuses rewards for quests (and therefore gets pushed to the back unless the party in question is about to attack us and could benefit from the monk's diplomacy), my mage bluffs her way out of combat unexpectedly, or I manage to find a brilliant combination of spells and melee that takes out more driders than you'd think they could handle.  That party is MINE, and I've rarely ever felt that way about any RPG.  Yeah, it's tons of combat, but the quiet moments are outstanding, the voice acting is superb, and...  well, the combat can be damned satisfying.  That, and the humor, both hidden and overt, in this game is great stuff.  There's a book for sale at the Black Raven Monastery which ranks as one of my favorite self-referential jokes I've ever seen in any game.  Ever.  And it qualifies as my favorite item, hands down.
 
There is also a distinct lack of this "good choice bad choice" morality system we've become stuck in.  That's one thing that often made me cringe in KOTOR--  for once I'd like my choices to feel like a gamble, rather than having to reflect whatever morality I think will serve my interests best.  Sometimes it's better to slay the bastards, sometimes you can make deals, sometimes you can screw up and cause deadly misunderstandings.  It's a lot more messy, but it feels like a fun game as a result, rather than what becomes a rather linear good-all-the-time back scratching fest. 
 
As an aside, I've run into a couple of bugs, one of them made me rather rich, but I like the game enough that I tried not to exploit it.  Too much. That, and a few of the puzzles needed a few more clues.  That forest was plain cruel.  Also, charm spells, at least when used against me, just make my party stand around rather than attack their comrades.  The biggest danger is from my party AI trying to kill them, actually.  Otherwise charm spells have suddenly become a lot less annoying :)  What's a bit more annoying is that when one of my character's is targeted it takes quite a while before the attacker will disengage and attack someone else.  I've manipulated this often, killing enemies who thought it was a good idea to chase after the guy running in circles, rather than the group pelting him with arrows.  Given how tough some of the scenarios are, though, I don't worry about it too much.

I guess it's telling that the same folks who worked on Planescape backed IWD2; it's certainly no romp through Sigil, but it's damned fun.

Metroid: Zero Mission

 
Wrote a review about it.  That is all.
Posted by ArbitraryWater

IWD 2 sounds like the kind of game I would be into, being a combat focused Baldur's Gate with 3rd edition rules (of course, it's also made on the Infinity Engine, and no games made on that thing were ever bad). 
 
But first I need to *attempt* to finish Arcanum, which is slowly starting to drain my patience, and when I give up on that for good, I guess I could try to finish BG1 or Temple of Elemental Evil. It's nice to see that you are enjoying it though.

Edited by ahoodedfigure
@ArbitraryWater:  I guess some of the feats in IWD2 don't work right (or at all), according to some faqs, but feats make leveling a LOT more fun for fighters and the like than it was for 2E fighters.   Added a list of extra flaws I found.  Not sure if that'd kill combat for you or not.
 
Sorry Arcanum is so rough.  You know what, though, I hear less about why the setting is so cool than I hear about all its bad stuff.  I figure if the setting continually impresses people, it should get more attention so that maybe someone can learn that lesson and do a steampunk setting some justice in the future.