Icewind Dale (series)

Last updated
Icewind Dale
Genre(s) Role-playing
Developer(s) Black Isle Studios
Overhaul Games
Publisher(s) Interplay Entertainment
Beamdog
Atari
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, iOS
First release Icewind Dale
June 29, 2000
Latest release Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition
October 30, 2014

Icewind Dale is a role-playing video game series developed by Black Isle Studios. It is set in the Forgotten Realms Icewind Dale region, but takes place decades before the events described in R. A. Salvatore's books which made the area a part of Faerûn.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Black Isle Studios American game developer

Black Isle Studios was a division of the developer and publisher Interplay Entertainment that developed role-playing video games. It also published several games from other developers.

Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. Commonly referred to by players and game designers alike as "The Realms", it was created by game designer Ed Greenwood around 1967 as a setting for his childhood stories. Several years later, Greenwood brought the setting to the D&D game as a series of magazine articles, and the first Realms game products were released in 1987. Role-playing game products have been produced for the setting ever since, as have various licensed products including novels, role-playing video game adaptations, and comic books. The Forgotten Realms is one of the most popular D&D settings, largely due to the success of novels by authors such as R. A. Salvatore and numerous role-playing video games, including Pool of Radiance (1988), Eye of the Beholder (1991), Baldur's Gate (1998), Icewind Dale (2000) and Neverwinter Nights (2002).

Contents

The games use BioWare's Infinity Engine, which offers a pre-rendered worldview, with sprite-based characters. This engine was also used to power the Baldur's Gate series and Planescape: Torment .

BioWare is a Canadian video game developer based in Edmonton, Alberta. It was founded in February 1995 by newly graduated medical doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, alongside Trent Oster, Brent Oster, Marcel Zeschuk and Augustine Yip. As of 2007, the company is owned by American publisher Electronic Arts.

Sprite is a computer graphics term for a two-dimensional bitmap that is integrated into a larger scene, most often in a 2D video game.

<i>Baldurs Gate</i> (series) franchise of role-playing video games

Baldur's Gate is a series of role-playing video games set in the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. The game has spawned two series, known as the Bhaalspawn Saga and the Dark Alliance, both taking place mostly within the Western Heartlands, but the Bhaalspawn Saga extends to Amn and Tethyr. The Dark Alliance series was released for consoles and was critically and commercially successful. The Bhaalspawn Saga was critically acclaimed for using pausable realtime gameplay, which is credited with revitalizing the computer role-playing game (CRPG) genre.

The player begins each of the games by generating a party of up to six characters, but is unable to recruit non-player characters (as was possible in other games using the Infinity Engine). Also, as the entire party is generated by the player, the player-characters do not have preset personalities, and are all equally capable of assuming the role of "protagonist" with minor differences at most.

A non-player character (NPC), also known as a non-playable character, is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence. In traditional tabletop role-playing games, the term applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player.

In 2000, Icewind Dale was released to mostly positive reviews, [1] although the game drew some criticism for its linearity and lack of character development when it came to the player's party. The game features far more hack-and-slash than Baldur's Gate, and has often been compared to the Diablo series of games for its combat-heavy focus.

<i>Diablo</i> (video game) 1996 video game

Diablo is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by Blizzard North and released by Blizzard Entertainment on December 31, 1996.

Icewind Dale

The gameplay of Icewind Dale is similar to that of Baldur's Gate . As with Baldur's Gate, the game is based on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition ruleset, and the combat system is a quasi-real-time adaptation of the normally turn-based Dungeons & Dragons combat system used. Dice rolling and the like are all done automatically, without requiring the player's participation, although it is possible to pause the game at any time to issue orders to the party.

One of the most noticeable differences compared to Baldur's Gate is the much larger bestiary: ettins, orcs, goblins, and orogs, for example, are all major foes in this game, whereas they were not present in the original Baldur's Gate. Some other differences include: the raised experience level-cap; bigger battles, sometimes involving 20 or more foes at once; and far larger spell selection - used by or against the player's party 6th level spells and above make frequent appearances throughout the game.

Ettin (<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i>) fictitious entity

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the Ettin is a giant-like creature. The creatures' name derives from Old English eoten 'giant', a word cognate with the Jötunn giants of Norse mythology.

Also unlike Baldur's Gate, the game makes use of a semi-random item generation system. In Baldur's Gate most items were pre-placed - meaning that the same items were in the same places every time the game was played. In Icewind Dale, however, most quest-earned items are randomly picked out of a handful of pre-generated ones, and items taken from the corpses of foes are similar in that regard, although slightly more random.

Icewind Dale was received by mostly positive reviews. Most critics cited the game's musical score and fast pacing as high-points, although others faulted the game for its time-consuming character creation and numerous bugs.

Expansions

Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter is an expansion pack to Icewind Dale that introduced many changes and additions to the original game. Some notable changes included such things as the addition of several types of classic Dungeons & Dragons enemies that were missing from the original (e.g., barrow wights), a much higher experience point cap, new magical items to find or purchase, a special "Heart of Fury" difficulty setting for increased enemy power and higher experience point-gain, and the ability to set the resolution higher than 640x480. The game is still based on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition ruleset, but like Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn , it included several changes (such as new spell progression tables) from the 3rd edition ruleset.

Another addition is the inclusion of several more areas to explore, although to access them, the player must enter a previously locked door in the town of Kuldahar while possessing a party of level 9 characters or above.

Although the game contained numerous changes that most felt were for the better, it was heavily criticised for the length of the campaign, which was much shorter than the original game's. Despite this, the game still achieved fairly positive reviews.

Trials of the Luremaster is a free, downloadable expansion pack to Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter. It was released by Black Isle Studios due to criticism that, on its own, Heart of Winter was too short. It contains several new areas to explore, and a handful of new enemies to fight.

Icewind Dale II

Icewind Dale II is the sequel to Icewind Dale, which is based on the BioWare Infinity Engine, and incorporates nearly all of the changes and additions to the series made by the Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansion packs. Unlike its predecessors, the game is based entirely on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition ruleset, which brings such things to the series as feats, the ability for any race to be any class, and the ability for any class to use any weapon. As in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn , the 3rd edition character classes of Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Monk are present in the game, but unlike that game there are also many sub-races, such as Drow, and Tieflings, which all have racial advantages and disadvantages.

Another significant change is the increased bestiary, which now includes such creatures as bugbears, hook horrors, and driders, as well as many returning monsters from the previous Icewind Dale game and its expansion packs, the Baldur's Gate series , and Planescape: Torment . In addition, a much larger section of Icewind Dale is explorable than in the previous games.

The game was praised by many critics for its pacing, music, numerous improvements over the original game and its expansions, although most found fault with the game's graphics, which consisted of sprite characters and 2d prerendered backgrounds, and were considerably less impressive than those of other CRPGs released that year, such as Neverwinter Nights and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind . Regardless, Icewind Dale II achieved mostly positive reviews.

Further releases

Upon the announcement of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition by Atari, Beamdog and Overhaul Games, many fans of the Icewind Dale series took to Twitter to request Overhaul Games make an Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale. Trent Oster replied that they are interested but any future products would depend on the pending success of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. Oster went on to say that an Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale would use the codebase of Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal to implement new classes and kits as well as updates to the Dungeons & Dragons system. [2] The enhanced edition of the game was released on October 30, 2014.

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<i>Planescape: Torment</i> role-playing video game

Planescape: Torment is a role-playing video game developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment. Released for Microsoft Windows on December 12, 1999, the game takes place in locations from the multiverse of Planescape, a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy campaign setting. The game's engine is a modified version of the Infinity Engine, which was used for BioWare's Baldur's Gate, a previous D&D game set in the Forgotten Realms.

<i>Icewind Dale</i> video game

Icewind Dale is a role-playing video game developed by Black Isle Studios and originally published by Interplay Entertainment for Windows in 2000 and by MacPlay for OS X in 2002. The game takes place in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting and the region of Icewind Dale, and utilises the 2nd edition ruleset. The story follows a different set of events than those of R. A. Salvatore's The Icewind Dale Trilogy novels: in the game, an adventuring party becomes enlisted as a caravan guard while in Icewind Dale, in the wake of strange events, and eventually discover a plot that threatens the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale and beyond.

Drizzt DoUrden fictional character

Drizzt Do'Urden is a fictional character in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Drizzt was created by author R. A. Salvatore as a supporting character in the Icewind Dale Trilogy. Salvatore created him on a whim when his publisher needed him to replace one of the characters in an early version of the first book, The Crystal Shard. Drizzt has since become a popular heroic character of the Forgotten Realms setting, and has been featured as the main character of a long series of books, starting chronologically with The Dark Elf Trilogy. As an atypical drow, Drizzt has forsaken both the evil ways of his people and their home in the Underdark, in the drow city of Menzoberranzan.

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<i>Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter</i> expansion pack

Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter is an expansion pack to the role-playing video game Icewind Dale developed by Black Isle Studios. It introduced many changes and additions to the original game, and included a new campaign. A downloadable add-on to this expansion pack, titled Trials of the Luremaster, was released for free. Both the expansion and add-on were included in the Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition.

<i>Icewind Dale II</i> video game

Icewind Dale II is a role-playing video game developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment, released on August 27, 2002. Like its 2000 predecessor Icewind Dale, the game is set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting in the Icewind Dale region. The player assumes control of a group of mercenaries in a war between the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale and a coalition of persecuted races and religions.

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<i>Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition</i> 2014 video game

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition is a remake of the Black Isle Studios 2000 role-playing video game Icewind Dale and its expansions Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster. Enhanced Edition was developed by Overhaul Games, a division of Beamdog, and published by Atari for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android.

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References

  1. "Icewind Dale Reviews". GameRankings . Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  2. http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/icewind-dale/1222961p1.html