Genre: Real Time Strategy
Developer: Lionhead Studio
Mac Publisher: Feral Interactive
System Requirements: 1.8GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, 128 MB graphics card, OS X 10.4.8, 5.1GB hard disc space, DVD drive, Mouse (multi-button recommended)
Review Computer: 2GHz 17″ Intel Core 2 Duo iMac, 1GB RAM, 256MB ATI Radeon 1600
Processor Compatibility: Universal
Availability: Out now
I hated the original Black and White. I found it to be a God game where you were the servant of the people, with confusing controls that were focused solely on rubbing cow tummies.
Something has changed with Black and White 2 (BW2), and it’s probably me, because the game remains unchanged; you play a God who has to guide his people to dominance, either by military conquest (Evil and “black”) or by building a civilization so resplendant that your enemies will join you willinging (Good and “white”).
You are faceless, floating above the islands where the game is played, represented only by the hand that allows you to interact with the land, the people, and your Creature. You have two spiritual advisors—an angel and a devil—who try to influence you, but cannot lie.
Though the game keeps score of how black or white you are based on your actions, your ultimate goal is to conquer each island (level). But how you go about that is up to you. Certain actions—like building a military—are evil (though necessary), while others are good—like building a temple—even though by building a temple you can eventually have access to miracles you can use to crush your enemies. And conquest is always what you’re after. So good and evil, whatever your score, are relative.
So, you build cities, you assign your people jobs (farmers, miners, breeders to build populations, military to fight), and you train your creature, one the big game mechanics. You train your Creature to enforce your will. When it takes an action on its own—building, fighting, or terrorizing your population—you can encourage it (by rubbing up and down) or punish it (by striking side-to-side), and it’ll eventually learn what actions to take on its own. So, eventually, you’ll build a nurturer or a warrior.
As I say, your ultimate goal is to build your civilzation to the detriment of others; you can build your city to such a grand level that enemy citizens will abandon their towns to join you. Or you can take the quicker, easier route and send your armies to take over their towns.
In the end, though, it’s all the same; another civilzation is erased, your Creature becomes more powerful, and you have more miracles. Whatever path you choose, your enemies will have armies and Creatures, so you’ll have to defend yourself. But are you defending yourself by placing armies along a wall, or by wiping out a city before they have a chance to build an army? The game just assigns a score.
Whatever reservations I had about the game original have been eliminated in the sequel. While you have to choose what tools you want to use to conquer, it’s a challenging, quick-paced RTS that gives you many (far more than two) paths to victory. Played on a modern system, you’ll whip across the landscapes, dragging your armies and Creature across continents, and buying and building wonders to make your city the wonder of the land