Black & White 2 Comparison

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Intro to Myself:

I would like to introduce myself as this is the first time I have written as part of the BCCHardware.com team.  This is my first article and I have another project lined up to be published in the near future.  A full introduction can be found on the contacts page.

Intro to the Game:

I'm a die-hard Black and White fan ever since I played the original back in 2000.  I couldn't wait for Black and White 2 and picked it up on release day.  It wasn't long after I started playing I was on the message board bragging about how gorgeous the graphics are.  Because of my passion for the game, Zeus recommended I write a review.  There had already been so many articles and previews published about Black and White 2, I decided to do something a little different.  Instead of a review, I've written up more of a comparison between the original Black and White, and Black and White 2.

After comparing the two games, my gripe list has grown larger than I expected.  Rather than try and separate the good from the bad, pros from the cons, I've written my mixed opinions in the order I played the game...provided you can play it.

Safedisc 4 protects Black and White 2 and seems to go a bit overkill with read errors.  I received more than one I/O error installing the game.  Installation failed the first time and I had to change optical drives half way through the second installation.  Upon running the game, it will also detect any CD emulation software such as CloneCD or Alcohol and refuse to run.  

Game Introduction:    

Less having to do with game play and more of a pet peeve, there is no way to by-pass the introductory animations from the developers and publishers.  After watching these more than ten times, every time after seems like an eternity.  Franticly pressing escape doesn’t make it go away any faster.

One of the biggest let downs of this game is the introductory movie.  After the leaps and bounds made with graphics and animation during the 1,254 days Black and White 2 was in development, I couldn't wait to see what they had come up with for an introductory movie.  But besides adding a special effect here and there and cleaning up some of the pixilation, the movies are identical!  After watching the birth of a God and flying through the universe, to the galaxy, zooming past Earth, circle around the sun, and back to Earth again I thought to myself, "This looks awfully familiar."  After loading up the original Black and White I confirmed my suspicions.  The intro movie is practically identical.  

The animated introduction after you reach Earth is where the new Black and White is different and we see a beautiful rendered land, and meet our conscience.  After selecting a creature and completing basic training, the introduction of the Aztecs invading the Greeks is very well done and establishes a solid plot to the game.

Evil Aztec Warrior The games are somewhat similar in their plot, although the plot in the sequel is a lot more solid.  In the original game you are spawned by a single prayer from the parents of a child as he is approached by sharks in the sea.  After being adopted by the tribe and training in the first land, you learn of an all powerful evil god, Nemesis.  Nemesis is the antagonist the same way the Aztecs are, only instead of banishing or releasing gods on every land to get to Nemesis, the challenge is to win over or defeat the Norse and the Japanese to get to the Aztecs. This swirl of light is an evil enemy God from the original Black & White


Belief VS. Impressiveness:



The original Black and White was developed on the principal of belief.  If a tribe believed in you enough, they followed you.  The successor partly works on a similar system called Impressiveness.  Belief could be had many different ways in the original game, from casting miracles, to moving rocks, and even your creature could score some belief just by doing a little dance.

Gained 45 impressiveness.In Black and White 2, there is no belief.  Tribes automatically believe in you.  Playing "good" is based upon impressing the enemy tribe into abandoning their leader and migrating to your town.  Impressiveness is easily gained by building a huge city.  It's not hard, it just takes a while.  Impressiveness points can be seen every time a building is built or a road is expanded, or a tree is planted in the right spot.

Black and White 2 could have still used the belief system and in my opinion, should have.  Since we are playing the role of a God, belief should be the basis upon winning over a tribe.  In the original game, you could attach your creature to the neighboring town and entertain the villagers until they believed in you.  I tried this same approach in Black and White 2 just to find that my creature simply had no effect.  The creature doesn't seem to be a thing of awe anymore, but simply a giant helper, or if you will, soldier.  Granted your creature will still entertain the villagers, but it won't gain you anything, except maybe some "good" points.
 

The People Are Robots:

BW - Cow entertaining a neighboring village.I partly think that because the belief system is gone, so is the character in every person.  After playing the original it reminded me that people interacted more with their environment.  They made more noise and chanted better at the altar.  After moving a rock, or casting a miracle, the villagers in the surrounding area would all stop what they're doing, turn their attention to you and give an, "ooooooo, ahhhhh"  Especially around the creature you'd hear "Woo hoo!" or "WOW!"  When the tribe went to chant the music would change, the villagers clapped in rhythm, and chanted, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, heeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy."  It was kinda cool.  Another tactic you could use as a God was to move a rock into your village.  The villagers would see it as a miracle having this huge rock appear in the village.  Most nights the villagers would gather around and worship a rock.  This would put energy into the rock that you could see, and eventually your symbol would appear above the rock.  So what good is this glowing rock?  Throw it into a neighboring town and the people will be see it and start believing.  Another thing the people used to do, especially at night time when there weren’t enough houses, was gather and sit in groups.  They looked like little homeless people.  It was rather quite real.

BW - Homeless people sitting around Most if not all of these elements seem to have been removed from the sequel, which was rather disappointing.  People no longer worship rocks, or the creature.  I don't think I've ever seen anybody sit either.  Just stand.  Or they never quit moving. BWII - People standing around


Armies - The Other Aspect

The option of armies is where the original Black and White suffered.  It was far easier to win a land playing good, than it was playing evil.  When you played good, the people were happy and believed enough that your influence circle grew so huge, you could case miracles in neighboring towns.  Playing the original game while evil was a different story.  While it was still possible, it was much harder to expand your influence circle being mean to your villagers, and armies would have been the ultimate evil tool.

Standing Army

Running Army

Thankfully Black and White 2 picks up the army aspect to assist the hand of evil.  The army aspect is a great and necessary element, but it also needs work.  There is no option to change an army's formation.  The bigger your army gets, the lines they march in just get bigger.  Changing the formation of giant armies, like 250 soldiers or more would be very beneficial.  I like the fact that armies can be merged together, but why can't catapults?  It would have been nice to be able to merge catapults together in the same group.  Other than that, an army can be the ultimate evil tool.  Army's also act and react to approaching enemy armies the way they should, and battles are a blast to watch.

Miracles - Food miracle?  What food miracle?

In the original Black and White, not only were miracles a beneficial tool, they were easily used to gain belief in your village, or a neighboring village.  Simply by casting food, or water, over a village would earn belief.  Of course repeated casting of the same miracle would yield less and less belief points each time until enough time passed the villagers were again impressed by the miracle.
Miracles also came in the one-shot variety.  Sometimes even picking up a tree, a one-shot miracle would be hiding underneath.  One-shot miracles came in handy, and in the third land the one-shot miracle wood generator was the best way to supply your village with wood.  The three main miracles of wood, water, and food, were always available to you.  Additional miracles were earned as a reward, or were a gift.  
There is no food miracle, no one-shot miracles, and miracles don't seem to be impressive at all to the villagers.  Casting water or heal on a group of villagers used to give big belief points.  Now they don't seem to care, although healing does give you "good" points.  Even if the villagers don't care, they used to give an, "oooooooo."   I suppose they are "miracles", but somehow casting a giant fireball on your own people doesn't seem to hurt them at all, or even catch anybody on fire.  But it was my favorite way to dispose of an enemy army.

Let's talk Creature!

I would have to agree that the learning curve of the creature has been improved.  It's easier to teach a creature what is right and wrong and your creature will remember.  However there are a few things I do miss from the original game.  Creatures used to learn how to cast miracles on their own, or rather, they'd learn it from you teaching it to them.  That was neat and the way creature learning should be.  Like a parent teaching a child.  The creature would attempt the miracle several times and learn it.  It was rather entertaining watching a creature try and cast a spell.  Now creature miracles are simply bought.  What's the fun in that?

 

I also noticed that while thirst is not a requirement, my creature did go and help himself to the water.  I guess creatures aren't thirsty in Black and White 2.  Another God-like feature that I enjoyed was changing the leash on the creature.  It used to be done by gesture.  Now it's done by a menu.  It was also very nice to be able to change the length of the leash, not something that can be done in Black and White 2.

BW - Cow is learning the 'food' miracle

BW - Creature Drinks


Creatures are no longer assisted in battles against other creatures either.  Originally creatures would create a magical arena to fight in and duke it out with or without your help.  If you wanted, you could intervene and help your creature by queuing up strike positions on the enemy.  It was also possible to make your creature block and dodge.  These features have also been removed from Black and White 2.

BW - Creature fight

BWII - Creature fight

AI - Intelligent?

Crushing an enemy catapult with a rock.With a lack of armies in the original game, there wasn't much to be said about AI.  I'd have to say that the enemy AI in Black and White 2 is somewhat lacking.  While armies patrol and for the most part attack intelligently, an entire army will stand outside your gate and wait...for a fireball.  Enemy catapults always moved too close.  Close enough to be easily wiped out by a fireball or meteor, or better yet, drop a rock on it.  Many times several armies would gather outside the wall gate with no catapult and just sit.  Easy targets that could be wiped out with a single fireball.

Other - The Small Stuff

I believe the sound effects and visual effects having to do with gestures were better in the original game.  There’s no more fishing, and there’s no temple!  On the other hand God building is a definite bonus.  I also like the fact that zooming with the mouse wheel follows your hand.  Multiple hand pick up is one of the best features you can "buy".  I never did understand the point of forcing besides solving two reward challenges, and accidentally harming your own people.  

Conclusion - And The Verdict Is


Black and White created its own genre.  It was a one of a kind unique game with aspects never before seen or thought of.  Black and White 2 tried to implement too many RTS like qualities that have taken away a lot of features that made Black and White it’s own game.  The original game was based around belief and learning.  Belief and learning could have still been used in the sequel.  I don't approve of tribute and buying upgrades.  It un-God-like to buy things.  Why not advance your civilization by nurturing your people and getting them to research new miracles, or new buildings.  On the other hand, if you're evil, force them to research!  The personal touch has been lost in this series as it seems the object is more about earning points than being a God.  The people aren't the people they used to be.

Water Effect - Eye-Candy

Gorgeous Sunrise

With all that was lost in the series I can't help but recommend this game to everyone.  Black and White 2 is one of my favorite games and I will continue to promote it.  The graphics, eye-candy, and physics are extremely realistic.  As much as I've griped about this game, I'm ready to go play it all over again.