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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Lionhead Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2001

 

 

- A breakthrough in AI

- Visuals are first rate

- The interface (for lack of better description)

- Music and sounds

- I can spank my monkey

 

 

- Annoying frequency of auto save

- Youíre time will get devoured and you will lose your friends and any spouses

 

 

Review: Tropico (PC)

Review: The Sims (PC)

 

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Black & White

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

The only reason that I am writing a review of Black & White is because I formatted my hard drive and didnít backup my game properly. If not, I would still be playing my two games simultaneously and would not open up MS Word Ė ever! If youíve been living in a cave, you might not know about Black & White, but of course, modern day cave dwelling hermits have laptops and generators too!

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Black & White is Lionhead Studios "God simulator" and to put it mildlyÖ IT ROCKS! There are no real set limits on good and evil with this game. I have two games going right now, one with a nice cuddly cow. The other with one bad-ass apeÖ neither side really has an advantage. Itís a testament to the quality of this game by how balanced two completely different aspects are. My only gripe would be that my evil ape torches my village every time I start a new multiplayer game.

The storyline in Black & White is actually very simple. You are god. Your godly self has the task of converting villages to your religion. Every god has his or her own creature. Your creature is vital to converting villages outside of your influence. You must gather a set amount of belief points in order to convert a village, but thereís more than one way to do that. A good god with a nice creature may help the village with their crops, donate wood and food or just be helpful in general. Where an evil creature/god combo can kick in houses, eat villagers, burn villages, and anything else that would fall into the wonderful violence category. This isnít to say that if youíre good you canít go around and burn a village from time to time. The big emphasis in Black & White is that YOU ARE GOD, the way you run the place is entirely up to you. As if that isnít enough, you also have to manage the villages that worship you. You can designate villagers to forest, farm, fish, build, worship, and breed. Your villagers will try to do as much as they can for themselves, but you are god for a reason! To help you with all of your godly duties you have your two consciences. One good and one bad, straight out of a cartoon. During the beginning of the game you can learn a great deal from the two bickering consciences, and the humour is always apparent.

 

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Although being god is great fun, nothing is better than teaching your creature a new trick! Slipperyone (my ape) has finally been toilet trained, and will now pickup his pooh and throw it at the villagers. All of this is while heís torching my village and eating villagers. On the other side, itís very entertaining to see your creature being helpful with the villagers and dancing with them. The AI involved with the creature is spectacular. Itís a truckload of fun 

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watching them learn. If you want your creature to do something, just show them what to do and reward them when they do it. Of course if they do something you donít like, just smack them. Believe me, over the last few weeks I have spanked my monkey a lot! (So, thatís that real reason the review took so long! Ė Omni)

Beside the single player game, you can take your creature online and whoop some serious ass. The greatest thing of all is that you use your single player creature! Whatever your creature learns in a multiplay game stays even when you go for another round of single player. The only downside of this I can see is that the creature is then stored locally and someone will come up with a hack soon enough.

Black & Whiteís graphics are top notch. This whole game is about quality, and Lionhead doesnít disappoint anywhere especially in the visuals. You are going to want some decent hardware and play the game in at least 1024x768 for best effect. Rain, snow, and tropical sunshine are shown off in brilliant glory. The weather can also be set to mimic the weather outside! (That didnít matter too much to me, who cares about the outside world? I have Black & White.) The villager animations are superbly done. Thereís nothing like watching a bunch of villagers drag trees off to the village store, or plant a harvest of crops before the winter season comes. The same can be said about the creature, but itís even more fun to watch your creature casting spells. (Especially fireball . . . Oh, mighty fireball!)

Have your Klipsch Promediaís been waiting for something to pump? How about the screaming of burning villagers, a rainstorm, as well as a creature howling away with glee. Oh yes this is a game your neighbours are going to love you for. The sounds in Black & White are excellent; everything is exactly as it should be. The musical score is also very involved and does a good job of immersing you into the world of Black & White.

The interface is stunning. The easiest way to describe the interface is to say that there isnít one. There are no buttons of any kind on screen whatsoever. Itís just your godly hand and the world to manipulate. Itís nice to have a game where you can sit back and play one-handed. (Heh, heh!) (No more monkey games for Slipperyone! Ė Omni) Your spells are handled by doing different motions with your mouse. Using your mouse and two buttonscan play the whole game. There are shortcuts and you can bind keys as well, but sometimes itís nice to play a game where you donít have to remember 50 different key combinations. Kudos to Lionhead for a new way of thinking when it comes to Interfaces.

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One thing about this game that stands out the most is the quality. While I have read the usual complaints about crashes and lockups I have experienced none. I have had the game running for over 12 hours at a time without a single problem. Itís been a long time since I have played a game straight out of the box that didnít need some sort of vital patch. A lot of hard work has gone into Black & White and hopefully it will raise the bar on the standards gamers expect when they put down their hard earned cash.

Should you spend the money? Yes! Sell your soul to the devil, do whatever it takes to get this game. The game would be worth it with just the creature let alone the strategy part as well. Black & White is one of the games you will remember 10 years from now as a turning curve for PC gaming. Thank you Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios, this game has certainly been something fresh and new.

- Slipperyone

 

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