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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy / God Game

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Lionhead Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 4, 2005

 

 

- Gorgeous graphics

- Unobtrusive interface

- Many complex "push/pull" relationships going on

- Easier creature training

- Great for fans of the original

 

 

- The fun wears off pretty darn quick and is replaced with boredom, even if it is nice to look at

 

 

Review: Black & White (PC)

Review: Nintendogs (DS)

Review: Sim City 4 (PC)

Review: The Sims 2 (PC)

 

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Black & White 2

Score: 5.9 / 10

 

If the 4th Quarter brings only one thing, it’s a bad case of sleep deprivation.  This in turn causes all sorts of bitterness and irritation.  This is what I thought was at play during my time with Black &White 2.  The game is gorgeous, features great depth and affords some neat strategic elements.  But as time wore on I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that I’d like to be playing a game that is less boring and includes more in the department of “doing things”.  But it wasn’t just a case of sleep deprivation.  After perusing some other reviews of Black & White 2 I discovered I wasn’t the only one feeling bored.

 

black & white 2 review          black & white 2 review

 

So, how does such a game create such boredom?  Gradually, then repetitively.  The first few hours can be pretty interesting but this is during the discovery phase – the time when you learn how to manipulate the environment, grow your settlements, and train your Creature.  After which time it falls into repetition really quick as you’re continually tasked with building settlements (either directly or indirectly with the use of disciples) and taking control of other settlements (either by force or by simply impressing them).  The repetition might not be so bad if you didn’t have to sit around waiting for your population to increase.  There’s no unit production here, the little humans need to breed and if you assemble an army the number of available males in the general population decreases drastically.  A failed assault makes for an extended period of just sitting there waiting for the male population to increase.

 

This is not my idea of fun.

 

Nor is building settlement after settlement, trying to bump up the impressiveness of each and making sure the citizenly is all smiles.  There is a complex web of interactions at play in every part of the game – demands have to be met, your Creature needs to be trained, your mana and tribute levels need to be kept high by the devotion of your followers so  you can create buildings and perform miracles – 

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but all too quickly I was exploring how far I could throw a disciple or see how they reacted when I practiced boulder bowling using their villas as pins.  Idle hands are the devil’s playground, but even after dabbling in the darkside the playground wasn’t that fun.

To offer some distraction Black & White 2 includes extra mini games and sub-missions, which are over all too quickly and although they afford extra tribute there aren’t enough of them to fill the void that boredom creates.  

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I never got tired of just “looking” at Black & White 2.  Each island you conquer is a thing of beauty and the graphics engine allows you to zoom in on bugs scurrying along the ground to a height that renders your settlements to mere specks.  Fields of wheat sway in the breeze, your disciples go about their business, and inclement weather can blow in.  And because you can change the time of day with a quick wave of your godly hand you can also appreciate the differences between day and night.  Your Creature also has a great level of detail with some great small touches that make them seem much more “real”.  If your Creature is active they reflect a lean appearance, if they chow down a lot (either on villagers or wheat) they have a flabby body.  Likewise their good and evil alignment is reflected in an outward appearance.  There’s no denying that Black & White 2 is a great looking game.

 

black & white 2 review          black & white 2 review

 

This time around, training your creature is much more straightforward.  Thought bubbles come up over your creatures head so you’ll always know what they’re thinking and what behavior you’re modifying (using praise or punishment).  This is quite a change from the original where it was mostly guess work as to what your were actually teaching your Creature.  He can also be trained to specialize in areas such as building or attacking, so depending on how you want to play the game -- naughty or nice -- your Creature can be turned into a massive killing machine or an extremely tall construction worker.  Each of these areas is clearly laid out by a couple of slide bars so you should never be at loss as to why your Creature is behaving that way it is.

 

The sound design is a good match to the visual experience particularly the environmental sounds; however, the voices of your taunting enemies repeat ad nauseum grow tiresome.  The Devil and Angle personas which act as the two guides toward evil and good (your conscience) are a great pairing and it was always nice to see both or one or the other show up to offer direction or a bit of advice.

 

I’d be more than happy to recommend Black & White 2 to gamers that were big fans of the original or those that don’t mind slow paced action in a great looking environment.  Otherwise, don’t feel like you’re missing anything if you pass on Black & White 2.

 

- Omni

(November 2, 2005)

 

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