Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? Preview

Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

Most every contemporary religion praises the virtues of an omnipotent deity.

God always seems to be this swell guy, er, girl, er thing, this all-powerful,

all-wise presence brimming with integrity and righteousness. Sure, we need to

fear God, but that’s mainly because God is perfect, while we are flawed.

But as we all know by now, power is the stuff that drives good things bad. Give a man a gun and he becomes a threat; take that gun away and he becomes a victim. So isn’t it a bit brazen of us to assume that God is a gentle giant? I mean really, omniscience is one heavy drug, and who’s to say that the man upstairs isn’t an addict?



Spiritual tirades aside, the question of morality is one for the ages. It is

a well-documented fact that good and evil cannot exist without one another…until

now.

Black and White attempts to answer the question of divine ethics by

making you a god. Not just an ordinary, regular, run-of the-mill video game

deity, but the actual almighty him/her/it self.

The brainchild of legendary game designer Peter Molyneux (Populous,

anyone?), Black and White presents a unique and original take on the

strategy god-sim by blending two distinct gameplay mechanics into a seamless whole.

The result could be one of the most stunning experiences in the history of computer

gaming.

The game is set in the fantastical realm of Eden, a fully 3D world that acts as your canvas. Your godly power is derived from your minions, the villagers of your tribe. They are your mana source, your resource pool, and ultimately, your guinea pigs to protect or destroy.

The game’s 3D engine is nothing short of breathtaking, with absolutely gorgeous textures and brilliant lighting effects. You can zoom in to watch the action up close, or pull out to gaze upon Eden from space. With dead-on physics modeling, Eden is an eerily real playground.

Black and White follows a three-book story that will present the gamer

with dozens of challenges and ethical crossroads. For instance, a worshipper

has lost her brother in the woods and pleads for your mercy and aid. Do you

help the woman by rescuing the brother, or kill the scurrilous peon for having

the gall to ask a personal favor? Grab the brother and drag him back to the

woman’s home. Or just drop a boulder on her head and wash your hands of the

whole mess. The choice, and the manner of its undertaking, is up to you.

Battling adversarial deities is paramount to your success, and over the course

of the game (and especially in multi-player), you’ll encounter other gods. To

maintain power, you must both protect your worshippers and vanquish your enemy.

From fireballs and lightning storms to benevolent healing spells, magic plays

a key role in your heavenly rule. Incorporating a unique ‘gesture’ system, spells

can be made more powerful by specific mouse initiated movements. It actually

looks like you’re casting!

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Black and White is the role

of the ‘creature,’ a special unit that acts as your physical manifestation on

Eden. Over time, the creature will grow from a normal sized unit into a towering

titan. The creature learns from your actions; do good deeds and the creature

will behave like a teddy bear; act like Satan and the creature will morph into

a hideous monster. And like life, there is a plethora of shades in-between.

Your creature can be taught to fight as well, which comes in handy when it

meets other gods’ creatures. With amazing hit detection and persistence (battle

scars, baby), the details are incredible. If you thought Godzilla Vs. King Kong

was cool, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I just can’t say enough about the originality and ingenuity of Black and

White
. It breaks through the mold and captures the essence of revolutionary

design. Barring any serious development problems, this looks to be an absolute

must-have for the PC gamer.

Zealots rejoice! Black and White is set to release in Winter 2000 for

the PC.