Black & White 2 (PC DVD)
- Wage massive wars, sieges and battles or use your skill and power to keep the peace
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- Platform: Windows 2000 / NT / Me / XP / 98
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
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Will you be an evil or benevolent deity? From the creative mind of God game developer Peter Molyneux comes Black & White 2. In this strategy sequel, you reprise your role as a powerful deity in search of a following and return to the once idyllic world of Eden, where the discovery of weaponry and warfare has tainted the beautiful landscape. With the help of your gigantic creature that you raise from infancy, you must earn the respect and worship of the natives. How you choose to do that, whether through nurturing them or terrorising them, is up to you.
The player will have many choices to make in Black & White 2. Once you and your creature have convinced the people that you are a God, you then have to decide if you are going to care for your believers, building them huge cities that are beautiful and safe, or if are you going to rule the land causing death and destruction by leading vast armies into battle.
You have a creature to do your bidding and train as you will, and you may rule over your people as you wish. This evolved creature can help you nurture their communities grow into huge, towering cities. Or you may use death, suffering, and fear. The creature has been massively advanced since the original Black & White, and now has a vital role as a military leader and command unit. He can learn strategies, lead armies into battle, and is the ultimate battlefield weapon himself, armed with many powerful new attacking and shielding Miracles.
Other strategy games can give you control of armies, countries and even whole planets but theres only one that actually puts in the role of a god. Black & White 2 is the latest game from Peter Molyneux, creator of classics such as Populous and Dungeon Keeper, and once again it casts you as a god who draws power from the faith of your subjects in order to manipulate the world around you using various natural phenomena like lightning strikes and earthquakes.
The original Black & White was criticised for lacking structure and direction and for fumbling one of its key features: the gigantic AI-controlled monster that worked as your corporeal representative in the game world. For this sequel though all these problems have been solved and the creature is now far more intelligent and able to work a lot more autonomously, although you will still be able to train him in specific tasks such as leading an army or constructing buildings.
The rather aimless structure of the first game has also been drastically improved upon, with a proper campaign mode with specific objectives. One area the original game never disappointed inn was the graphics, but Black & White 2 looks even more amazing than before, with hundreds of humans on screen at a time and amazing attention to detail such as your creatures fur becoming matted and damp in the rain. One of the most ambitious strategy games ever created, for fans of the genre this is manna from heaven. --David Jenkins
Top customer reviews
OK, so the actual gameplay was disappointingly short, but once you've completed it you can really appreciate the other things. The BEAUTIFULLY crafted landscapes. The sensual + brilliant soundtrack score. The pleasure of watching a villager progress from infant, to adult, to the retirement home.
Lionhead games have never really been about 'completing the game', they were about appreciating the little things along the way, but if you are the sought of person who blitzes through games just to get to the end then this isn't the sought of game for you.
Let's start with the best part: the graphics. Black and White 2 is certainly pretty, with impressive landscapes that you can view both up close (complete with grass that you can brush aside with your godly hand) and from a long, long way away. The creatures are all unique and quite loveable in their own way (I'm particularly fond of the cow), and will take on a more good or evil appearance depending on how you raise them. The various sparkles, miracle effects, buildings and such also look rather nice; in particular, the volcano miracle is certainly a joy to behold. On the whole, you really can't fault the game's looks.
So what went wrong? The biggest and easiest thing to point out is the distinct lack of play options. There is the single player campaign... and that's it. No multiplayer, no skirmish mode against AI gods, no sandbox mode and, just to rub salt into the wound, there isn't even a difficulty option for the campaign -- so, once you've beaten it (and it is incredibly easy to beat), there really isn't anything else to do. Six months after release and there's still no sign of any modding tools, which might have helped increase the longevity slightly. Not great value for money.
Black and White 2 makes a big deal out of letting you play as good or evil: "Be a god of war or a god of peace." The problem is that neither approach is particularly satisfying. When taking the "peace" approach, you build up your town in order to "impress" the nearby neutral villages. Sadly, this approach feels like a poor-man's version of SimCity. When taking the "war" approach, you take neutral villages by force and use your armies to overwhelm the enemy, and this approach makes the game feel like a particularly poor real-time strategy game, especially because there are so few unit types -- soldiers, archers and catapults, and that's it. The enemy AI doesn't help here either, being entirely predictable and extremely unchallenging as it is content to simply send wave after wave of its brainless troops to their deaths at the hands of your army/creature.
The creature also seems more "robotic" now, in that the activities it can perform are listed within one of the game's menus. It looks like a sequence of on/off switches; to flip a switch to "on" (i.e. to encourage it do perform that activity), you stroke the creature; to flip a switch to "off", you slap the creature. There doesn't seem to be any of the teaching by demonstration that there was in the first game, where you could get your creature to learn miracles or activities by performing them within its gaze. This feeling is compounded by the fact that you buy "upgrades" for the creatures to enable it to do things like water crops, throw fireballs, etc.
Despite negative feedback from the first game, the second game still features the same (unskippable, although the huge patches fix this) style of tutorial; namely, one which treats the player like a simpleton. "Well done, you've moved the camera to the right," the advisor notifies you, "...now let's move it to the left!" Meanwhile, a number of important game concepts that are considerably less obvious are completely ignored, both by the built-in tutorials and the game's manual.
The tutorial also introduces you to the somewhat inaccurate controls, whereby you'll try to click on something (either to pick up a particular object, or simply to move/rotate the camera around a given point), only to realise that the game thinks you've clicked in a different spot. This results in the tutorial becoming upset and treating you like even more of an idiot or, later in the game, the wrong objects ending up carried in your hand, which can become highly frustrating.
And, of course, the game's graphics come at a cost; you'll need a decent machine to play the game acceptably. In particular, ensure that your graphics card supports pixel shader 1.1, as the game won't run at all without it. A number of users have also complained of performance issues when using GeForce 6600/6800 cards, and to my knowledge these issues are still unresolved.
There are persistent rumours of an upcoming expansion for the game, and perhaps the best advice I can give is to wait for it to be released before deciding whether to purchase this title. At the moment it feels incomplete and underwhelming, and you'll probably end up wishing that you'd waited for the game and its expansion to be bundled together at a lower price.
The creature is still one of the main attractions to the game, but while we've gained the ability to tell what he's thinking at any point in the game (which prevents him picking up bad habits we didn't notice), we've lost any notion of creativity and surprise from the creature.
The largest flaw in the game in my opinion is the various AI. The enemies you face seem to be almost entirely scripted - they throw troops at you in the same, mindless way every time - if you then build a wall or something similar to prevent one of these scripted attacks, they just give up! You can then happily build up your city and basically ignore the enemy until you wish to attack, or win by influence (you can win a land by building a larger city).
Further, the troops your create and your creature seem entirely unable to navigate effectively - if there's a closed gate house in the way - they'll be unable to pass (which means you have to run around opening and closing doors for them) - and the number of times my creature got stuck in between some buildings had me tearing my hair out: "You're four times the size of the house, step over it!!". And at some point you'll watch your creature be killed by some archers while he stands there thinking about what to do with them while you scream "Throw a fireball!" and throw your mouse across the room.
All in all, the deficits in the AI and the monotonously scripted lands make this a disappointment. Although I still hope that Lionhead fix the problems and make what could be an astounding game rather than give up on the series.