I knew by the end of the second day of playing Black and White, and still in the tutorial, that I was in for the long haul. ?Ror,? I said to myself (as I often talk to myself when I?m alone, and frequently in my pen name), ?this could be an opportunity to write a different kind of game review - a sort of daily diary of what coming to write a review of Black and White was like.? It seemed like a good idea to me, and I agreed with me also. Besides, if it all went to hell, I could just delete it, write a normal review, and none of you would ever be the wiser of my little failed experiment. Barring that, what follows is the highs, the lows, and the creamy middles of game reviewing.
I?ve been playing a lot of Blade of Darkness. Sure, it?s repetitive as hell and the controls are clunky, but I like the architecture, and I find I?ve developed a certain fondness for lopping off heads and watching them roll away. But my next reviewing assignment has come in - Black and White - and I probably should be getting to that. I?ve somehow missed almost all the early buzz on this title, and know nothing more about it than it is supposed to be an RTS.
I blow past the opening movie and logos and whatnot and find myself watching a family (husband, wife, and son) skipping down a forest path. The graphics are pretty good - trees, dirt, sky, sunlight. The people have little bodies with disturbingly human faces. Creepy, really. The husband and wife stop to hug, and the boy wanders down to the sea which lies at the end of the path. There is a voiceover that talks about there being no need for a god in a world of complete innocence, or something like that. The parents see the boy swimming and yell for him to get out of the water, and sharks appear and start to close in. I find myself almost rooting for the sharks, as I?m sure these little troll people with their human faces are going to give me nightmares if I look at them for too long. The parents start to pray for someone to help them. Hey! I?m in the Jerry Falwell Power Hour! A meteor streaks across the sky and becomes a hand which scoops the boy out of the water, just before the sharks strike, and deposits him safely on the beach. That hand is apparently me - I?m their god. Fragments of Populous cross my mind.
Here is apparently where the tutorial begins. I?m introduced to the two sides of my conscience, represented by an old man floating on a cloud (good) and a tubby little devil (evil). I get the feeling I?ll be seeing a lot of those two. They describe to me the nuts and bolts of how to move. Move the hand into the distance with the mouse, click and hold the left mouse button, and then pull the land back towards you. It?s awkward, and I feel a lot like Thing from the Addams Family. Moving to the extreme top or bottom gets me pitch control, and the extreme left and right gets me rotation. Holding both buttons gets me a zoom control. Eh, I?ve seen better. My inner voices tell me to follow the family to their village, so I drag my way over there.
Near the village is an incomplete temple, and I?m told that the right mouse button is the action button. I can grab stuff the hand is hovering over and move it. By piling food and wood by the incomplete temple I encourage the people to finish it (interestingly, I steal that food and wood out of the village stores). Inside the temple is plush - big screen TV of the world, Laz-E-Boy recliner, nice. Though I?m encouraged by the old man to look around, most of the rooms are empty because I haven?t done anything yet.
Back outside I spend some time looking at signs that float all over the place which tell me about the buildings and people, but most of them are useless information as near as I can tell. A gold scroll floating in the air is supposed to continue the tutorial, so I click on that. I?m introduced to Sable (insert favorite WWF joke here) who tells me that I can get a creature (some sort of wizard?s familiar, I think) if I collect the three gatestones necessary to open a gate at the outskirts of town. I can?t just smash the gate? Some god I turned out to be. The first stone is just lying in a field, and though it takes some scrolling around to find it, I do. The second is being kept in some woman?s house. She?ll give it to me if I find her husband who is lost and sick in the woods. The old man tells me the guy is lost down a pass between two mountains in the distance. The devil guy wonders out loud if it wouldn?t be easier to just smash her house with a rock. This is clearly one of those good/evil decisions I have to make. The woman?s request sounds suspiciously like blackmail to me; who is she to demand things of her god? Syonara, household. Smash-o. I try smashing the gate with a rock, but can?t. The woman cries and gives me the stone, then pleads with me to find her husband for her. I figure it?s good for a god to be arbitrary, violent, and unpredictable, so I decide to find the guy. That also takes a lot of scrolling around, but I find him, grab him, and bring him back to drop at her feet. I?m rewarded with the computer rebooting, coming up with a corrupted registry, and rebooting again. I?ve been playing over an hour and have had enough. Tomorrow is another day.
What happened on Day Two?