Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: 3/21/2001
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I remember hearing about B&W back in the day but I didn’t have the machine to run it. Now, seven years later, I’ve played it and walked away about underwhelmed. First off the game is butt ugly, but that is expected for a seven-year-old game. The textures are blurry and washed out and the character models are downright laughable. No matter though B&W delivers a great style that hasn’t been in any other RTS. While the story is paper-thin there really isn’t any need for one. You are a God who is just a floating hand and you take control of creatures. These Creatures can help your villagers either farm grain for good, chop down wood for…erm…wood, and you can pet it, slap it around to tell if it’s bad, or encourage it to do bad things such as even eating the villagers!
The whole premise of B&W is the “good or evil” premise that Peter Molyneux oh so loves. The whole concept of the game is to influence other villages by performing God-like tasks such as supplying them with food, or wood. You can use your Creature to impress them or you can do evil things to impress them such as picking up the villagers and throwing them around, smashing their buildings, etc. When you get a village the people will have needs. These are noted with flags around the building. Some may want more houses to breed children. Some may want a wonder, some people may even want more trees or rocks in their village. When you start running out of resources you can perform miracles by having your villagers chant at your temple. You can then use “gestures” to use wood miracles, food miracles, fire, or shields to attack or protect villages, etc.
The game plays out in missions via silver scrolls that require you to help (or hurt) people. When you get the God Stones you unlock the next door to pick your next Creature. While all this sounds astounding (and it is) the game is very hard and gets old really quick. After the first land which is the tutorial land, you’ll pretty much have seen what the game has to offer. What makes the game so hard is that you will never have enough resources and the resources are very limited, and buildings require too much wood to build. While taking your Creature out on walks using a leash (use the good or bad collar to have the Creature act accordingly) sounds neat it is but not for long. Back in 2001, this kind of thing was like finding a Martian…it didn’t exist. In 2008 we’ve seen this many times before and it’s nothing new. If you really dig this kind of thing I recommend it, but if you’ve played other great RTS games you won’t see anything new here.