A return to EdenLionhead
are visionary developers and solely responsible for more sleepless nights and torn hair, than most developers on the face of the planet. Peter Molyneux has made quite a few innovations during his time and brought gaming forwards with such titles like Populous
. He was responsible for depriving me of much sleep a while ago with Black and White
and the addon Creature Isle
So now here we are in 2005 and Black and White 2 has hit the shops a few weeks ago, the question however I am sure people are wondering is…does the game bring to the table any advances on Black and White
Your people, the Greeks are in trouble and you are called from the vast depths of space and time to help them by a pure prayer. The Aztecs are laying waste to Eden with their warlike ways and as a newborn god you must follow the path of Good or Evil as you either win the people with mercy or frighten them with tyranny. Gameplay
If you’re familiar with the previous game then you’ll be able to jump into B&W 2 without too much trouble, there are also a couple of tutorial islands that’ll give you a decent grounding in the skills needed to guide your fledgling creature and people through each of Eden’s various different islands.
I’m not going to tread over old ground with the review; if you want to learn about B&W then you’re going to have to track down a copy of the game and the expansion. Nothing much has changed in the way that you do things in the sequel, you still have the ‘hand’ and it’s capable of operating within your influence just like the first game. You can pick up trees, rocks, people and so forth just like before.
You’re going to be doing one of two things or a mixture in this game: and that’s winning people over with impressive building skills or waging bloody war and taking over towns/butchering armies.
What has changed is the way that you now have a town centre rather than a large temple, the town centre displays several things such as the people’s desires and their next most wanted building. You can build as a god inside your influence by choosing the construction menu from the toolbar or directly dragging a building plan from the town centre. This little toolbar addition makes getting at all the pertinent information a joy, the interface has been suitably redesigned and everything you need can be accessed quickly with this bar or a hotkey.
You can also drag a building blueprint from another building as it is being constructed, allowing you to quickly create groups of structures with little or no problem. But you should pay attention to the villagers’ happiness; if you put too many structures together you can create a slum-like area, or decrease the impressive look of your housing. Icons appear to indicate the current levels of such things, smiley faces in different colours for example: bright green for uber happy and deep red for seriously upset.
While we’re dwelling on the subject of building in the game, there are walls now and also roads – these function on a very intelligent system and they will actively try to link up with houses and structures that are close by. Each time you make a new structure your town’s impressiveness will raise, if you get a certain amount people from far and wide will want to come and join you in your settlement.
You can click-drag out roads or walls from existing roads or towers and this quick and easy system means you’re able to construct some pretty impressive looking places, walls and roads can also be restricted to just straight lines for that Roman look.
Fields will fill to boundaries, the same with meadows and I have to admit that one of the joys of playing the game is town/city construction. It’s a simple/clever/effective system that means you don’t have to worry too much about details and can build quickly/cleanly on the map.
The more buildings you place, the more impressive your town/city becomes and adding certain buildings gives you more influence, spreading your godly power towards other areas of the map. Black and White 2 is full of new structures, there are also new miracles for you to cast and a new system of control has been implemented for your creature.
There are now more leashes, these are great ways of assigning a role to your creature (of which there is a small and very limited selection this time around) (Ape, Cow, Lion, Wolf with the Tiger being an unlockable available for those that buy the special edition of the game). There are leashes for building, fighting and gathering for example. However these will deplete your creature’s free will and turn him from an engaging pet to a dumb as a post machine.
The creature education system has been improved; you can see now what the creature’s thinking and what he’s planning to do allowing you to quickly reward/punish him. There’s also a section upon the toolbar where you can review all the things your creature’s found out so far, fine-tuning them by clicking and administering the correct punishment or reward.
The people you have in your village will also go around doing their jobs, some will wander into fields and farm them, and some will go around and mine or gather various resources like wood. Of course as a god you can create dedicated followers to do those things, which means you’re free to concentrate on other matters like using your powers to god-build structures, which consumes a little of the resource but builds it a lot faster than your disciple builders.
You can assign your people building roles, foresters, miners, farmers and a few others, need a few more people in your village – assign some breeders and make sure your folk are happy by providing various civic buildings for them, like the tavern and temple. Every action you do in Black and White 2 has something it affects, so if you build a tavern near a mill, expect the mill to suffer in production.
The Good/Evil choices in the new game are fairly well defined and you can see directly what kind of action you’re performing, for example rip out a tree…that’s evil, put it back and water it with a miracle and that’s a bunch of good. You will also see your land/village/creature change depending on alignment.
Just as in the first game your creature will grow as time passes, his body/look changing depending on how much he eats and how much he works out (yep he can weightlift rocks, trees, villagers).
There’s a lot more that I could cover but it seems that Peter M has indeed added a bunch of new ‘Civilisation’ style options/features to the game that allow you to concentrate on being a non-aggressive deity if you desire.
Of course if you’re anything like me you’ll want to wage war as well, so there’s a simple RTS troop system built into the game where you can have soldiers, archers and siege machines to conquer your foes with. Build an Armoury, Ranged Armoury or a Siege engine building and then take a flag from it, drag out a circle and voila you’ll recruit your armed forces.
Your armies level up when they’re successful in combat and grow stronger; they can also be merged with other similar forces to make bigger/better armies. The RTS/combat element does feel a little tacked on however and will probably only appeal to those fans of such games like Rome: Total War
but what you get does its job well enough and provides another option for winning the map.
You can use them to take over towns, select the town you want to assault and then they’ll rush there and attempt to take it over. If you’re successful you’ll have another town to look after and keep happy, this will add to your impressiveness too.
So basically in B&W 2 you can either wage war, take over towns using impressive building skills and leave your armies for defence or mix it up a little. But remember that war is evil and you’ll be heading down that road if you use military force.
There are silver scroll challenges and gold scrolls will offer missions that advance the story, when you complete the objectives you’ll be awarded a bunch of tribute (currency of the gods) that allows you to buy/improve things from the tribute menu. Need a nice new temple, buy it, want that fire miracle, buy it…want to power up your creature into a lean mean fighting machine, buy it with tribute.
Some of the silver scroll challenges are simple, but some of them are extremely tricky to get to grips with, the rewards are usually worth it and it’s wise to check your objectives from the toolbar since there are some hidden ones in each land worth a chunk of tribute.
Bronze scrolls hold tutorial information and are usually very useful to learn from, especially the one that teaches you about another new feature in the game, yep, since you have the power of a god you can change the time of day by clicking on the sky – allowing you to make your slaves…er people…work constantly, or give them a nice long rest.