Black and White Review

Posted by: Lundar

Black and White Review - 04/08/01 11:18 PM

Black and White
Released March 2001

Having played many hours in Black and White, I would love to give my impressions on it.


I will start of by saying that this game from Peter Molyneux of Dungeon Keeper fame has beautiful graphics. You get graphics depicting the environment that show detailed trees, detailed creatures, spells and all these in such detailed landscapes that will brighten and amaze your eyes. This comes at a cost, you should have a descent video card and processor to make the most use of this game. The game will not disappoint in the graphics department. A game several years in coming and through several delays is now upon us.

Your role and quests in the game:

You were sent from above, created in the cosmos from the prayers of those on the earth below. They are your people, whose faith has created you and you must ensure to sustain that faith in you by doing things for them in regards to quests. You gain spells and abilities based on the faith that your people have in you, lose their faith and you grow weaker. You can choose as the name implies to be black (evil) or White (good) depending on how you treat your villagers. Quests help you grow in power, such as villagers that may need your help in helping them survive by giving them food. In one quest, a villager may ask you to save a brother that has a sickness and has lost his way in a forest and you must do your best to save the person in a good way. You can gain a prize if you save the brother, a special stone you need in the game. By being good you can save the brother, by being bad you can forget the brother, and storm into the home that houses the stone instead. The worlds graphics will change based on your behavior, if you are evil, dark clouds, dark like landscapes will reflect your evil attitudes. If you are good, the skys will show wonderful cloudy and blue skys, and bright colors everywhere, butterflys flying in the wind, a true paradise. There are over 400 mentioned quests in the game, and you find them by locating special scrolls scattered throughout the islands you visit in the game. Gold scrolls are those needed to advance the story in the game, silver scrolls are minor quests that allow you to obtain some special items. There will also be situations in the game where you will have to convert other villages to believe in you that have no faith in you at all, the more people have faith in you, the stronger you will become. If you dont have many villages under your control as well as people strongly believing in you, you may become too weak, and an invading lord, also seeking to convert people to his side will become stronger as you become weaker. Take the time necessary to plan your course of action, by deciding the things you will need to do, to make people believe in you. You will also need to train your creature that you will control in the game to fight for you against other lords creatures who seek to take over your domain. But what are these creatures I'm talking about? Read on to find out.

Your creature:

The creatures you find in the game will become your physical presence on the earth. You can only control one of these in the game, as you train them from small baby like creatures to huge goliath sized beasts that will do as you command of them if you train them well. You can eventually change your creature into another type of creature, say from a lion to a turtle by bringing the spirit of the lion into the turtle if you desire. The choice will be yours to decide upon. You will thus have someone to control in the game in the form of a creature which you choose from many, there is a lion, a cow and other such animals that you will find throughout your journey. These start as young animals and it is through your training that they will learn. Failure to train them well and hard will cause your creature to not follow your commands or do well in the game. Patience in doing this will be needed and you will be rewarded by the time you will spend training your special creature, your physical presence on the earth. A creature that you will learn to become very close to, and form a special bond with. Special leaches that you can attach to them will help you train them from small baby like animals to huge creatures that will help to protect your villagers if you are good or kill them if you are evil. Yes, the behavior depenedent on the creatures alignment is based on what they see you do. If they see you hurting the villagers they will learn that this is good to do. If they see that you are caring to the villagers then they will try to see that they do not harm them. If you creature accidently eats a villager while he is learing, you can punish the creature by giving him a few slaps so that he can learn that this is wrong. If he has done something you like, you can pet him, and he learns by what you show him through this. There are sceens that show a few icons that tell if your creature is hungry, the punishment you gave him, or the praise you have given him. It is up to you to train your creature to do many things, and their artificial intelligence will show you how smart it is, as they will do things sometimes you dont expect. Do your best to train them and they will do their best to follow in your example. Your behaviors of evil or good will reflect on the creature, from a happy looking animal if you are good to a darker, sinister, horned creature if you are evil.

Final Words:

This is a game that introduces management through training a creature, helping your villagers through quests, and learning to ensure the faith the people have placed in you. The only thing that you may find a little confusing at first, is the control in the game, which basically uses the mouse. It may take some getting used to. You use the mouse to move through the world and interact with it. Be prepared to handle your creatures behavior and your citizens demands, failure to do this will cause a rival lord to come into your domain and defeat you easily. Be prepared to handle some hectic managing of the game as the difficulty increases as you move further into the game. But through the games superb tutorial, wonderful graphics, creature training, and many hours playing the game, you will find a game that you will enjoy and appreciate. It may not be a game for everyone who likes to rush through a game instead of thinking things through. But patience, hardwork and many hours spent playing this game, will get you prepared for many of its challenges. I have not covered everything the game has to offer, but its major components and I will leave it for you to explore its many other wonders! It is a game that allows you to have fun by asking the questions, "Who are you?" and "Are you Black or White, Good or Evil?" based on your actions to your people in the game. It is indeed a great game, that needs time to get into, but once you have given it time, you will find it enjoyable and fun.

Game Rating B+ 88%

[This message has been edited by Lundar (edited 04-09-2001).]
Posted by: gatorlaw

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 09:33 AM

When I saw that you had posted this review, I was eager to read it.

I have never played any game with RPG as the main element, but there was something early on about this game that made me interested. The screen shots, comments...I'm not sure.
There has been a tremendous amount of commentary and the game seemed long anticipated.

Thanks to your excellent review, I have a sense of what the wait was for and I am intrigued. Hopefully this won't be too difficult for someone like myself to start out on. You have given an engaging account and one that doesn't mince words on any drawbacks. Sounds like a great game!

Posted by: Lundar

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 11:27 AM

Hello gatorlaw:

There is an excellent and extensive tutorial in the game at the beginning to help you out and the first island that you come across will basically be a tutorial island to help you get ready for much more difficult challenges later on. It is a game where you do need to take your time to train your creature and help out your villagers. It is not a game that can be rushed and be finished with quickly. It is a game that some people will not like but others will love, especially training the creature in the game to suit your own agenda. The creature training is very fun to experience, as you see how far you can go with the creature as he develops into a mature fighting champion for you.

Have a wonderful day gatorlaw!

[This message has been edited by Lundar (edited 04-09-2001).]
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 11:54 AM

Is it more fun to be a good god or a bad god?
Posted by: nolalou

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 12:57 PM

Thanks for posting this review, Lundar!

As you know, I've had my share of frustrations with this game, and it should be pointed out that the minimum requirements printed on the game box (64 Mb Ram, 8 Mb video card, 300 mhz processor) are really understated! The game is barely playable with 64mb of RAM, and it my case 'locked up' several times during the initial 'training mission'. The game manual says if you have performance problems, to disable all background tasks other than those need to keep windows running (everything except the systray and explorer), and in my case, that still didn't prevent the system 'locking'.

This does look like a very detailed and involved game, but don't try in on a 'low end' system. Having said that, I agree the graphics are spectacular, and the hint system includes two 'advisors' one good and one evil . (like the angel and devil characters whispering in your ear that you see in cartoons)
Posted by: Lundar

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 01:27 PM

<font face="Arial, Verdana" size="3">Originally posted by Jenny100:
Is it more fun to be a good god or a bad god?</font>

Well it depends on your playing style, if you have time to spend on helping your villagers or training your creature, being good is the best route. But if you are not patient enough and want things to go a little quicker you can treat your villagers in an evil way to get what you want instead of helping them first to get what you want.
It all depends on your playing style and your patience in this game, that will determine whether you want to be a good or an evil person.

Nolalou is correct about system requirements for this game, as a good processor and video card are essential for this game.

Have a wonderful day Jenny100 and Nolalou.

[This message has been edited by Lundar (edited 04-09-2001).]
Posted by: Zanthia

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 03:35 PM

I would like to make a couple of points here regarding what has been previously said.

Laura: I don't know where you get the idea that B&W is an RPG. Calling B&W an RPG is like calling Quake an RPG. It is clearly a strategy/sim title. Should you decide to play B&W you will still not have played a game that is an RPG.

Nolalou and others regarding system requirements: I posted this on the other board but I will repeat it here in case you haven't seen it.

Even though you may meet the minimum requirements, that does NOT mean you should be able to play the game. For most games the minimum is a joke. And for many games, such as B&W having the recommended may not even be enough. I don't know where you get the idea that having minimum is enough to run games. I have been hesitant about buying the game because I just meet the recommended and from many reports I have read the game runs from okay to pretty bad on specs similar to what I have. As a general rule, I will not buy a game where I do not meet the recommended specs unless I hear from many sources that it plays well on less than that.

And an 8 meg video card is an ancient dinosaur. A 16 meg card is outdated. A 32 meg card is the norm today. Along with 128 ram is the minimum any gamer should have.

Maybe with adventure games you can get away with such outdated computer but if you are going to branch into other genres, you will need to get a better computer and video card along with more RAM.

Posted by: Lundar

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 04:29 PM

Hello Zanthia:

Yes, Black and White is not an RPG but more a Strategy and Simulation type of game as you mentioned, but it does contain elements of adventure and RPG games witin it.
Posted by: nolalou

Re: Black and White Review - 04/09/01 08:45 PM

Forgive me Zanthia, but if a game lists minimum requirements, I darn well do expect to be able to play the game if my computer meets those minimums. I might expect it to take longer to load, or the graphics to not look as spectacular if I barely meet the minimum, but I DO expect it to run without locking up! I don't think that's unreasonable.

Why would this not be considered 'false advertising', to claim something that's not true! Sorry to be so blunt, but when I buy a game, I do look at the requirements, and I don't by a game that I have a reasonable expectation won't run on my PC. If my PC meets the minimum, and if I decide to buy the game, I expect it to work!

"Black and White" was the exception in this regard, I can't recall having any such problem with other games I've bought who's minimum requirements are met by my PC.

[This message has been edited by nolalou (edited 04-09-2001).]
Posted by: Debra

Re: Black and White Review - 04/14/01 11:49 AM

I have never played a sim before, but after
reading your excellent review, I bought the
game and I love what I've seen. I never
realized being "god" could be so hard. It's
a little more difficult to have it your way
than you think
The graphics are beautiful and the gameplay
(controls) are part of the learning curve
problem I have when I move from point and click, but I'm sure it will resolve itself
with time.
Anyway, that's for helping me find another
game genre to delve into.