Black & White 2 Review
developer: Lionhead Studios
PIV 1600, 512MB RAM, 3.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 04, 05
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I played the original Black and White before I hit puberty. I played the second Black and White my freshman year of college. I really liked the first Black and White because everyone else told me to like it. Personally, I didn't get it that much. I played with it, but I never really understood any of the gameplay mechanics, and honestly, I thought that The Sims was a much better God game. Black and White 2 is easy to understand now though, because there is nothing to understand.
What are you crazy kids up to?
Black and White 2 starts with the same intro video as the first game. Seriously, it is the exact same f*cking video. What the hell? It has been how long? What? Like five years or something? Get a new introduction video, guys!
And from there, you can imagine how the rest of the game goes. There's only one way to play the game, the single player mode. That's it. Nothing else.
Black and White 2 lost all focus on the gameplay experience it was trying to create. There isn't any sandbox mode, and after you play the first level, you know exactly how the rest of the game is going to play. You build a big city (exactly like all the other ones you have built), and hopefully this will impress your neighbors so much that they will attempt to join your beautiful city. And if this bores you, you can build a huge army and start conquering towns. There is no real strategy involved no matter what you decide to do. Normally, you wind up doing both; it doesn't take much to do either.
There's also these fantastic scrolls you click on to either engage a tutorial, move the main plot of the game forward (there is no plot to this game), or to play one of the many asinine mini games. There is really no reason to play any of the mini games. I know you might be tempted, but they're a waste of your time. Don't click on the silver scrolls. For the love of God, don't click on the silver scrolls.
I think that someone at Lionhead might have Attention Deficit Disorder. Many of their current games are all about novelties around pretty shallow and repetitive gameplay. They come up with these fantastic ideas, and then none of these actually make it into the game (not to the extent that Lionhead talked about them anyway). Black and White 2 is no exception. There are many interesting little novelties here, but after playing one, maybe two of the islands, you sort of get what the game is all about.
Lionhead (or Peter Molyneux rather) is also legendary for his amazing interfaces. Black and White 2 can be played using entirely the mouse. This is interesting except that playing it like that is horribly inefficient and frustrating. There's a reason that every game uses the keyboard: it is much easier to get things done by pressing one of the hundreds of buttons on the keyboard, than clicking through menus and dragging things onto the screen. Please stop trying to set a precedent and adopt the standard.
From a technical standpoint, Black and White 2 looks pretty. The expansiveness of each island and the eye candy involved is impressive. It also moves very smoothly from a bird's eye view of the entire island, down to an individual toiling away in the fields. Then in the sound department, there is nothing spectacular. The sounds are localized, and that is nice, but not that impressive. There's a wonderful clicking sound when you try to capture another city and the "Capture City" counter starts. It won't take long before that will grow to annoy the hell out of you.
The artificial intelligence is revolutionary, but only in how appallingly bad it is. Your pet, in theory, should become better at what you train him to do. Your pet actually is just a huge gimmick and serves little point in having him in the game. When he does things you want him to continue to do, you lovingly stroke him, but when he screws up, you can smack the living crap out of him. He'll attempt to do these things or not do these things depending on how you've trained him. However, when it comes to combat, your creature can actually cause more harm than good. I've watched as my creature (after the combat upgrades I purchased for him) run at enemy troops, watch as the enemy troops just run past him and into my archers, watch as my creature stands there looking stupid for a second, before rushing into the middle of my troops and casting a lightning spell, decimating my only platoon. Your enemy never really does anything exciting either though. Sometimes they implore the time-honored technique of just walking around your walls without attacking. And even after you destroy your own walls by throwing boulders at them so that your enemy can rush forwards and be burned to death by your fireballs, they still just run around, same as ever. And other times, they'll use the time-honored technique of rushing across an open field towards your platoon of archers that outnumber them two to one, straight through the gauntlet of deadly arrows raining from the sky. Maybe one enemy soldier will reach your archers, if he's really lucky.
If you want to avoid the retardation that is combat, you can build cities. This is easy, because your villagers tell you exactly what to build next and the game has icons that tell you how to lay out your city so everyone is happiest. On top of that, there is no resource management in this game. Fields just need water to always grow food, mines just need miners to always get ore, and forests just need water to always have trees. Plus, even if your people aren't gathering wood, food, or ore, you can do it for them. You can also build their houses for them. Sometimes it is best to just tell all of your villagers to breed so that you can just do all of the resource gathering yourself.
Looks pretty, is from a rare genre;
Shallow, repetitive, boring.