GameOver Feature - A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

GameOver Feature - A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

A Reviewer's Diary: Black & White

Published: Thursday, April 26th, 2001
Written By: Rorschach

Day Five

I started playing The Sims recently, which probably makes me about a year behind the crowd for that game. I like the whole your-Sim-is-a-blank-slate thing, but I think my Sim is more stupid than is strictly necessary. He cut himself repeatedly while making a salad, set fire to the patio cooking on the BBQ, and flooded the kitchen doing the dishes! I would think by the time you own a house, you could handle a kitchen knife without amputating fingers. Clearly my Sim missed some life lessons along the way.

But I?m supposed to be writing about Black and White, which has really turned into a pretty good RTS, after a rather rocky start through an atrociously bad and unnecessary tutorial. Combat between me and this opposing god is not direct; it is instead a battle for worshippers. I can defeat him by converting all his worshippers to mine. He owns the villages on the border between our territories, but I can perform miracles and manipulate objects there. Stuff deep in his area, I apparently can?t touch, and vice versa. If they want wood, I bring them wood; if they want food, I bring them food. I have my monkey come in and impress them, and I can make it rain upon their crops. By fulfilling their needs, they award me with belief points - a shrine in the center of town shows me how many belief points I need to convert the village. While I?m taking his village, the other god doesn?t seem to respond, either by sending over his creature (which I caught a glimpse of once - it?s a wolf) or performing his own miracles. Perhaps he?s just going easy on me because it?s such an early level of the game.

I?m a pretty busy god, what with trying to convert new villages and trying to keep my current villages happy. My people have needs - lots of them. The biggest problem I find is wood shortages, because houses and such seem to require a very high cost of wood. My early village has completely deforested the area around it, and I have to haul wood in from other villages that have a surplus or cast wood miracles, but I?m really using all my miracles to convert the villages of the enemy so I don?t have any to spare. My people also seem to breed like frigging rabbits, so they always want more housing. Maybe I?m not moving fast enough and should have beaten this level already, so I?m having wood and overpopulation problems. I don?t know. I did find on one of the options menus that there are keys that can be used for moving around instead of the mouse. This method is way quicker, even containing some hot keys to quickly get to frequently visited locations, like my temple or my creature?s current location. I wish the tutorial had covered this as it could have saved me a lot of dragging around.

Despite the fact that I?m such a busy god, I see story scrolls scattered around, and I can?t help but click on one. A guy comes staggering out of a hut and tells me that there is a plague among the people, and can I help them. The old guy tells me that I need to find the source of the problem. I have no idea how to do that, but scroll around the island a little hoping something will jump out at me. I activate another story scroll over a nearby structure. A guy comes out of that one and tells me that his temple floods, and could I help move it to higher ground. The temple is made of staggered tiers, and I can only move one tier at a time, and I have to put smaller tiers only on larger ones or on empty ground. You get the idea; it?s a puzzle, and a pretty easy one. I solve it, and the guy thanks me and tells me that anyone I bring to his temple will now be healed. I have a means to deal with plague victims! I carry sick folk (one at a time, as that seems to be the only way to move them) to the temple. On one trip, I notice the food in the village stores is green. The old guy tells me it looks rancid, so I dump the entire contents into the sea, and replenish it from stores in other villages. I figured I?ve solved the plague. I go about my business, but then am interrupted by a short cinematic sequence in which a guy comes staggering out of a hut and tells me that the plague has decimated the people, and I didn?t do anything to help them, and the people will never forget that. Apparently I hadn?t solved the plague. I expected to lose the village, or at least take a hit in my popularity rating, but it didn?t happen. What did happen, is now I?m afraid to activate story scrolls, and will probably avoid doing so in the future. Also, the population in that village dropped, but I couldn?t manage to get enough wood to build houses for them all anyway, so big deal.

Once I have taken a village, my territory is extended, and now a new village lies on the new border between my enemy and me. I have the added power of the villagers in the one I just took to help me take the next one. They provide me with wood and food, but more importantly, they provide me with mana to cast miracles. By raising the statue in the shrine at the town center, I can control what percentage of the villagers will be called to worship and generate mana. The people worshipping at the altar need to be given food, or they will starve to death praying to me - that?s a little odd. Also, people worshipping can?t do their other jobs of farming and such, so I can?t just crank it up or my village will die out, or maybe they?ll stop worshipping me and go worship my enemy. I don?t know which - I?m trying not to let it happen. With each village I take, more and more people are there to provide mana so I can perform more miracles so I can convert more villages. It seems like my advance will gain momentum as I go. It also seems that if I ended up on the losing side, that there would be no way to turn the tide. Maybe there?s a gameplay balance problem there, but I?ll reserve judgement until I?ve played a few levels more.

Sucks to be his monkey, take me to Day Six!

[ Day One ] [ Day Two ] [ Day Three ] [ Day Four ] [ Day Five ] [ Day Six ] [ Day Seven (Final Rating) ]
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