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    Black & White
    Personality on analysis

    Black&White (B&W) is simply divine. It's a bit hard for me to come up with a better expression to define Peter Molyneux's first title since he left Electronic Arts and Bullfrog, and founded Lionhead Studios. After games like Populous or Dungeon Keeper, which had Molyneux's genius touch, B&W stands up to be considered the most ambitious project in his career.

    With the designation of a Strategy/God-game (still we can dig up influences from several genres), we are standing before something completely different from anything else in the gaming industry, even if there's a possible analogy to "The Sims". With no doubt, this first project by Lionhead Studios created an expectation never seen before.

    Choosing between Good and Evil

    The story takes place in the paradisiacal island of Eden. Here, the utopian ideal is a reality for all its inhabitants. Peace and harmony is everywhere and life is good for the several civilizations (African, Japanese, Norse, Celtic, etc.) Click To Enlargescattered all over the beautiful landscape in various settlements.

    In B&W we are a God, and we must impress the small mortals so that they believe in our power and worship us. We may do this by two means: One - help and be kind, gaining the "little people's" respect and worship; or Two - be cruel and heartless, gaining believers through fear. It's up to each one of us to follow our own path.
    Our power (manna), which we need to cast spells, is generated by our worshipers at worshiping sites. The more people we have dancing at the worship sites, the more quickly the spells become charged and thus ready to cast.

    There are two curious characters, ("Good and Evil", "Yin and Yang", "Black and White", as they call themselves) which represent our conscience. They're the ones that advise us, and in the first stage the ones that help us starting out; usually their advices are opposite and contradictory. This is most amusing, and isn't hard to notice the (black) humor behind the answers our Evil conscience gives to our Good conscience.

    After completing the first Gold Story Scroll we choose our creature (Cow, Ape and Tiger, at first), and we're off to cover the hard grounds of parenthood. Our creature is like a child. Frightened at first, then curious and receptive, he(she) will tend to imitate our actions. Also like any good parent we must stroke him if we think he's doing somethingClick To Enlarge right or punish him if he's messing things up. However the concepts of right/wrong, good/evil are very subjective. It's also important that your creature learn how to fight and cast miracles and spells, so that he can aid us in our quests and duels with other gods and creatures. We will succeed when we become the only god worshiped in all Eden.

    "The Hand of God"

    Click To EnlargeOne of the most incredible aspects of the game is the interface... which simply doesn't exist! Let me explain. When I say this, I mean the typical Graphic User Interface (GUI) is not present. Black and White has the most well designed interface ever seen in a game, which allows us to move around freely and interact with the game world by grabbing, dragging, tapping, throwing, well it's simply amazing. The same goes for spells and miracles that with the Gesture Recognition system we can draw the spell symbol on the ground, and according with the better or worst execution of the gesture, it will be, or not, recognized.

    Dynamics, Physics, Zoom, AI

    Click To EnlargeThe world of Eden is a dynamic world. The real-time morphing that reflects our actions is extraordinary and this also applies to our creature appearance.
    Also, the game engine presents a physics system according to Newton's laws that assures the interactions between objects look real… or better, believable.
    And because we are speaking about Newton, that reminds me of his little episode were he gets an apple on the head :)... and talking about apples we get to the zooming feature. Very well designed, this feature allows us to be watching ourClick To Enlarge realm from the skies, and in the next second, a worm in an apple by the Storage Pit, has proudly shown by Molyneux in the several presentations of the game.
    The AI is the most complex ever, even with the flaws it has/may have. No game has tried to achieve what B&W experiments. Some might say the AI in Black&White is not qualified as "intelligence", however note that no one has tried this before, but Lionhead Studios people dared to enter unknown ground… and I congratulate them for this.


    In a multiplayer game we can face up to 7 players, through internet or LAN. Our creature takes to a multiplayer game what has learnt in a single-player game. Also, everything our creature learns in multiplayer will be acquired and available in single-player. Currently, playing a multiplayer game in B&W isn't much different from Skirmish, and there are only three maps to play in :(… However, with the Gamespy support and the community growing and coming up with maps, mods and utilities, hopefully, and with a patch already announced, the online feature of this great game should heat up and become what we expected… much more active.

    Moral lesson

    Click To EnlargeB&W is a personality test where we can see who we are or who we thought we were. It's thrilling to take any path without fear, to do whatever we like, I mean, we are a god. However, what definitly impressed me more was the dynamics of Eden's universe, the way everything changes according to our actions. Very much like the real world, after all, the world is what we make of it…



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