|Amazon Link:||Buy from Amazon.com|
If you've ever wanted to play god, Black & White should definitely be on your short list. This highly anticipated game takes the concept literally, letting players navigate and influence a lush world using only the "hand of god" as an interface. Players can use the hand to uproot trees, hurl rocks, rescue (or punish) followers, and control all aspects of the camera as it zooms, dips, and swerves over the completely 3-D environments.
The game gets off to a slow start, but things pick up once players get to choose their creatures. Creatures are giant animals that serve as your physical link to the mortal world, and they have a sophisticated artificial intelligence that lets players teach them how to act. In the beginning, there's only a cow, ape, and tiger from which to pick, but the choices expand as the game progresses. And for a limited time, Amazon.com customers can download a bonus creature--a magnificent horse. Click here for details.
Ultimately, creatures grow, and their appearance gradually changes to reflect both their tendency toward good or evil and the treatment they've received from the player. Deny the animal access to food and it will lose weight. Pet it each time it eats a villager and you'll soon have an evil juggernaut that strikes fear into people's hearts. Most of the game's fun comes from spending time teaching your creature and simply watching the crazy things it does of its own volition. Best of all, players and creatures don't have to have the same alignment, making it possible to be an evil god with a glowing, beloved, benevolent creature. It all depends on why you choose to reward or punish the creature.
Unfortunately, Black & White tries to be too many things at once, and there is rarely any real focus. It's difficult to enjoy training a creature when villages need protecting, villagers need direction, and buildings need to be built in order to expand the player's influence and ultimately win each level. It wouldn't be so bad if the villagers were half as smart as the game's creatures, but they require a lot of micromanagement to work efficiently. The single-player campaign gives players plenty of time in each mission to overcome these shortcomings, but prepare to spend many long hours administrating your holdings for every hour of pure joy that Black & White is capable of providing. --T. Byrl Baker
- Great graphics and animations
- Exceptional creature artificial intelligence
- Plenty of keyboard shortcuts, greatly simplifying the complex camera controls
- Managing villagers and buildings can be a chore
- The manual is completely inadequate considering the complexity of the creature AI