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Black And White Preview

Ben_Silverman By:
Ben_Silverman
01/07/04
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Strategy / Role-Playing 
PLAYERS 00 
PUBLISHER EA / Lionhead Studios 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Comic Mischief, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

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.



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