More Reviews
REVIEWS Slender: The Arrival Review
Few games can offer genuine scares in the horror genre. Can Slender: The Arrival prove otherwise and it can offer more?

Pillars of Eternity Review
Obsidian Entertainment creates a retro Infinity Engine RPG funded by Kickstarter. Is it as good as previous Infinity Engine games, or does the novelty quickly wear off?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Dirty Bomb Preview
Looking for a more competitive, challenging online FPS multiplayer game? Splash Damage is introducing just that by dropping a Dirty Bomb on the free-to-play game market.

LATEST FEATURES 6 Helpful Tips for Pillars of Eternity
Simply put, Pillars of Eternity can become maddening if players aren't careful.

Top 10 Active Video Game Kickstarter Campaigns
There are lots of indie projects going on right now, so we did the dirty work for you and found the best.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Top 50 Pokémon of All Time
Can you believe there are now six generations of Pokémon? Six!! That's a crazy amount of different creatures to collect. But which are the cream of the crop? Don't worry, Magikarp isn't actually one of them.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP shandog137
The perils of the Hype Train…
By shandog137
Posted on 03/09/15
The recent release of Evolve and The Order 1886 really got me to thinking about the disparity between the perspective of sales-driven publishers and the quality-driven purchases of consumers. The “Hype Train” is nothing new, but the way it is utilized has been creating far more...

Populous: The Beginning Review

Dr_Moo By:
Dr_Moo
12/01/98
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Strategy 
PLAYERS 98- 98 
PUBLISHER Bullfrog 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

And so it was written...

"And as the heavens roiled asunder, a light shone down upon the people. And the people rejoiced, for they knew that the light would bring peace. Peace and suffering. Suffering and pain. Pain and death. And the people cried, for they realized that suffering, pain, and death were not so great. Against the light they raged, begging for mercy. And the light listened, and laughed. Chuckled, really. And the light chuckled. And after the light laughed, er, chuckled, the light spoke, er, spake. It spake unto the people of understanding. It spake of clarity and love. It spake of understanding the clarity of love, and vice versa. And the people rejoiced, for they were reassured of their blessing.

And then the light burned them into little bits (and the people rejoiced). . ."

Years ago, Populous stormed the gaming world with a bizarre blend of strategy and action. It's one of the toughest games to categorize - not a sim ala Simcity, not a typical RTS ala Dune 2. While some argue that it's the true ancestor to the real-time strategy genre, the fact remains that Populous rewrote the gaming rulebook.

Now some 10 years after the original, Bullfrog releases Populous: the Beginning. Although it is the third game in the series, this remake bears little resemblance to its ancient cousins. With a terrific graphical engine and innovative gameplay, it's a welcome return. That's right folks - God is back, and she's looking better than ever.

Populous: The Beginning is a 'prequel' to the original. You play a Shaman, the leader of a tribe and bent on becoming a god. Achieving this lofty goal requires the absolute eradication of all other tribes in the universe. No one said omnipotence was easy.

The first thing you'll notice is the graphical engine, which, in a word, rules. Taking a cue from the groundbreaking Myth, Populous uses 2D sprites in full 3D worlds. The coolest thing here is that you're playing on a globe, which leads to some amazing camera rotation. The sphere also provides for some neat landscape effects, like a horizon and some truly impressive terrain deformation. With full D3D and 3Dfx support, this is a real treat for the eyes and pushes the limits of the genre.

Of course, graphics only go so far. The gameplay follows the basic RTS theory - highlight units, order 'em around, build stuff, and do whatever it takes to kill everyone else. But Populous does some things differently.

This is not a resource based RTS, and places less of an emphasis on management and more attention on action. Since you're not dealing with mining for gold/spice/metal, Populous never really degrades into a 'war of attrition;' you can't just choke out your enemy's harvesting plan and slowly hunt them down. Your tribe acts as your major resource (though buildings require wood, which is always plentiful), and the best way to ensure success is to allow your people to flourish. This directly affects your Mana level, which is depleted as your Shaman casts a bevy of offensive and defensive spells. Again, this is not your standard real-time deal.

The Shaman is really the crux of the game. She has a wide range of spells to use, though only certain ones are available on each level. There are 26 in all, many of which are aimed at the terrain. What better way to get rid of your enemy than with a well-placed volcano? Take that, stinking pagans!

However, with all this new ground comes some old concerns. For one, there are only really a handful of unit types, and with the uber-powerful Shaman really running the show, there isn't much of a need to diversify. Plus, the unit AI can be irritating. At this point in the progression of the RTS, I'd hope that my units would figure out some of the more basic ideas on their own - like attacking the enemy when he starts pounding on my buildings. Too often warriors are just standing around watching their houses burn to the ground. Stupid peons.

There are also a few problems with the difficulty. The first few levels are pretty easy and allow you to figure out how to navigate and command troops, but later levels get very hard and frustrating, often requiring little more than sheer numbers to overpower the enemy.

Multi-player, on the other hand, solves many of these CPU problems. The game runs smoothly through the free 'populous.net' server and is plenty of fun and relatively lag-free. Few things are more satisfying than eradicating other tribes and achieving online divinity.

Populous: The Beginning is a stylish and solid game. It utilizes current graphical technology beautifully and delivers a very interesting gaming experience. While it still falls prey to some of the more irksome pitfalls of the genre, it manages to break through the haze and shed some new light on the masses. Both the heretics and the faithful will get a kick out of this one.

B+ Revolution report card
  • Outstanding graphics
  • Innovative gameplay
  • Killer terrain morphing
  • AI problems
  • Gets REALLY hard
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.


More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about Populous: The Beginning


More On GameRevolution